The Council of the European Union approved conclusions on a European Union strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to “reinforce its strategic focus, presence and actions” in this region with the aim to contribute to “regional stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development,” at a time of “rising challenges and tensions in the region.”
GS-II: International Relations (International Groupings, Foreign Policies and Developments affecting India’s Interests)
Dimensions of the Article:
- European Union (EU)
- Council of the European Union
- What is the Indo-Pacific Region?
- Significance of Indo-Pacific for India
European Union (EU)
- The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
- The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardized system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one.
EU policies aim to
- Ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market;
- Enact legislation in justice and home affairs;
- Maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development.
A monetary union was established in 1999, coming into full force in 2002, and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.
In January 2020, the United Kingdom became the first member state ever to leave the EU.
Note: United Kingdom is not a part of the EU now.
Council of the European Union
- The Council of the European Union is one of three legislative bodies and together with the European Parliament serves to amend and approve the proposals of the European Commission, which holds legislative initiative.
- The Council of the European Union and the European Council are the only EU institutions that are explicitly intergovernmental, that is forums whose attendees express and represent the position of their member state’s executive, be they ambassadors, ministers or heads of state/government.
- The Presidency of the Council rotates every six months among the governments of EU member states, with the relevant ministers of the respective country holding the Presidency at any given time ensuring the smooth running of the meetings and setting the daily agenda.
- Its decisions are made by qualified majority voting in most areas, unanimity in others, or just simple majority for procedural issues.
What is the Indo-Pacific Region?
The “Indo-Pacific” idea was originally conceived in 2006- 07. The term ‘IndoPacific’ combines the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Western Pacific Region (WP) – inclusive of the contiguous seas off East Asia and Southeast Asia – into a singular regional construct.
The idea has gained eminence in recent times due to:
- Increasing geopolitical connect between the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific in both the geo-economics
- Eastward shift of the world’s economic “centre of gravity” towards the Asian continent .
- Growing Eminence of India
- Politico-military aggressiveness of China.
Indo Pacific is an inclusive and representative term that reflects the contemporary interconnectedness of trade, technology and supply chains in a wider region.
- Moreover, the Indo-Pacific is being redefined, ironically, by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), debt-trap diplomacy, fictional territorial claims and a divide-and-rule strategy.
- Indo Pacific is wider than the “Asia-Pacific” which represented the trans-Pacific strategic and economic impulses after World War II, and was confined to East and South-east Asia.
Significance of Indo-Pacific for India
- Greater Role in the Region- This concept is a shift from the Asia-Pacific (included North-east Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania), where India did not have a major role to play. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) launched in 1989 did not include India, as did the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) launched in 1996, though India was admitted into ASEM in 2006. India still remains outside APEC despite stated US support for its inclusion. However, India is a key player in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Play the Role of a Net Security Provider where India is expected to assume the responsibility for stability in the region by following capacity building, military diplomacy, military assistance and direct deployment.
- Ensure Freedom of Navigation– as the region includes some vital trade routes and world’s vital choke points for global commerce, including the Straits of Malacca. Around 95% of India’s foreign trade comes by the Indian Ocean.
- Develop a Security Architecture– as there are issues like territorial and water disputes between countries, piracy concerns, North Korean nuclear capability and greater militarization in the region.
- Containment of China– In the backdrop of China’s aggressive expansionists tendencies including Belt and Road Initiative, String Of Pearls Theory, Indo-Pacific presents an opportunity to capitalise on China’s key strategic vulnerability, viz., its energy lifelines transiting the Indian Ocean and to showcase Indian Navy’s capability to moderate China’s behaviour, thereby dissuading its future aggressiveness.
- Help achieve Strategic Objectives
- Gives an extension to India’s ‘Act East Policy’
- Entry in multilateral groupings– such as Nuclear Supplier’s Group and permanent seat in UN Security Council.
- Create alliances with smaller powers– as it would entail continued engagement with China while simultaneously developing strong economic and security alliances in East and South East Asia and across the Indian Ocean region
- Increasing role of ports– where different countries are trying to setup their bases in different ports of the region. E.g., India has secured access to Duqm port in Oman for military use and develop the Agalega Island in Mauritius. The Indian Navy has secured a logistics facility in Singapore that will allow it to refuel and rearm and has similar facilities in Vietnam.
- Help achieve Economic Potential- India is targeting a sustained 7.5-8% economic growth and aims to be a $5 trillion economy by 2025. The Indo-Pacific can aid this as there is
- Presence of natural resources– like oil and hydrocarbons in South China sea, which can help India diversify its import basket.
- Presence of high market potential for Indian exports such as engineering services, ICT services etc.
- Development of North Eastern States- that can become a gateway for India to integrate with this region.
- Integration of Blue Economy Aspirations– where, ocean ecosystems bring economic and social benefits that are efficient, equitable and sustainable for the entire region.
-Source: The Hindu