EAST ASIA FORUM – 10 June 2021 – Author: Shada Islam, College of Europe
mplementing Europe’s strategy for a stronger ‘strategic focus, presence and action’ in the Indo-Pacific will be difficult. EU policymakers face the herculean task of identifying core areas where the bloc can make a difference in the region while avoiding those where EU engagement would do more harm than good.
Germany, France and the Netherlands already have their own national Indo-Pacific strategies. As does the United Kingdom, now outside the European Union. Policymakers in Brussels hope that a collective EU strategy can augment national ones, and help the bloc strengthen its profile in the Indo-Pacific amid changing global power balances. The European Union is not content to watch great power politics from the sidelines.
Fleshing out the details of a more wholistic EU strategy for the Indo-Pacific will be difficult. Reconciling conflicting interests and ensuring coordination among EU member states to implement it will be even more challenging. A key issue will be finding a balance between the EU’s interest in expanding its economic presence in the region and its desire to support global democracy and human rights. In the interest of both Europe and Asia, EU engagement must avoid certain strategic pitfalls.
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