What role should Europe play in the Indo-Pacific? The EU strategy for the region outlines interests and policies. This new HCSS report by Paul van Hooft, Benedetta Girardi and Tim Sweijs makes these explicit and offers concrete levers for action.
The European role in the Indo-Pacific has grown over the past years, as part of Europe’s slow geopolitical reawakening, evidenced by increased European naval visits to the region and national and EU policy statements focusing on the Indo-Pacific. What the implications are of this growing role is not yet clear.
The report “Guarding the Maritime Commons: What role for Europe in the Indo-Pacific” examines what that European role should and could feasibly be.
The report highlights several key lessons.
- The first is that a free and open Indo-Pacific is a core strategic interest to Europe, given the importance of seaborne trade between Europe and Asia, and the consequences of a potential escalation of the Sino-American rivalry.
- The second is that European naval capacity is extremely limited.
- The third is that Europeans should accept that their increasing role in the region is likely to further unsettle relations with China.
- The fourth is that Europeans, however, have opportunities based on their institutional and diplomatic strengths to reinforce the multilateral frameworks that focus on maritime security and would bind the regions closer together.
- The fifth and final lesson is that Europeans will not be taken seriously without a naval presence. To achieve this with their limited capacity, they need to be smarter about sharing and pooling resources, as well as rotating forces into specified zones on a multinational basis.
This report is the first core research publication of the HCSS Europe and the Indo-Pacific Hub (EIPH).
Guarding The Commons – Paper Series
The EIPH project also included a workshop with experts from Asia and Europe. Their essays were bundled into a paper series.
Read the complete paper series here:
- Thucydides Lives in Asia: Power Transition Traps Are Real, by Patrick Porter (University of Birmingham)
- Between AUKUS and the Quad: Scaling European Interest in the Indo-Pacific, by Jagannath Panda (Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses)
- European Engagement in the Maritime Security in Indo-Pacific: a Japanese Perspective, by Yuki Tatsumi (The Stimson Center)
- Getting Real about the Indo-Pacific: Redefining European Approach to Maritime Security, by Frédéric Grare (European Council on Foreign Affairs – ECFR) and Mélissa Levaillant (Institute of Higher National Defence Studies)
- Multilateralizing Maritime Cooperation in East Asia: South Korea’s Cautious but Delayed Response, by Kuyoun Chung (Kangwon National University)
- It started with a ship… What role for Germany in the Indo Pacific’s security architecture?, by Johannes Peters (Head of Center for Maritime Strategy & Security at the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK))
- Multilateralizing Maritime Security in the Indo-Pacific: How Europe can contribute to regional deterrence, by Stephan Frühling (Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University)