The European Union in the Indo-Pacific


EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

The European Union is intensifying its strategic engagement with the crucial Indo-Pacific region. The region’s growing economic, demographic and political importance makes it a key actor when it comes to shaping a rules-based international order and addressing global challenges. With this new strategy and the Global Gateway, the EU aims to contribute to stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development in the Indo-Pacific, fostering the principles of democracy, rule of law, human rights and international law.

The EU and the Indo-Pacific

The Indo-Pacific:

  • produces 60% of global GDP;
  • represents 2/3 of global growth;
  • will be home to 90% of the 2.4 billion new members of the middle class by 2030;
  • encompasses 3 of the 4 largest non-EU economies (China, India and Japan);
  • is a leader in the digital economy and technological progress;
  • is central to global value chains, international trade and investment flows.

The EU is the leading investor and development assistance donor, and one of the region’s major trading partners.

The EU is already very present in the region

Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific is crucial for the implementation of the global agenda, including the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Europe and the Indo-Pacific now need to work together to promote a green and sustainable socio-economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, to foster the wellbeing of our people.

The EU has constantly made significant contributions in the region over the years, in key fields including:

  • development cooperation and humanitarian assistance;
  • fighting climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution;
  • partnership and free trade agreements;
  • disaster risk reduction;
  • respect for international law, including human rights and freedom of navigation.

The stability and posperity of the Indo-Pacific matters for the EU and the world

The futures of the EU and the Indo-Pacific are inextricably linked given the interdependence of the economiesand the common global challenges. Around 40% of the EU’s foreign trade passes through the South China Sea, making stability in the region a shared concern and area of cooperation.

Geopolitical competition is intensifying in the Indo-Pacific, creating significant strains on trade and supply chains as well as in technological, political and security areas.

The EU’s enhanced engagement in the region aims at maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific for all while building strong and lasting partnerships

The EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific will allow the EU to enhance cooperation in the following priority areas.

Sustainable and inclusive prosperity

  • Work with Indo-Pacific partners to reinforce value chains, strengthen and diversify trade relations, implement existing trade agreements, finalise ongoing trade negotiations and develop cooperation in strategic sectors.
  • Strengthen rules to protect international trade against unfair practices, such as industrial subsidies, economic coercion, forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft.

Green transition

Work with partners to fight, mitigate and adapt to climate change and to counter biodiversity loss, pollution and other forms of environmental degradation.

Ocean governance

  • Strengthen ocean governance in the region in full compliance with international law, in particular UNCLOS.
  • Continue to support partners in the region to fight against IUU fishing and to implement Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements.

More information on the CRIMARIO project for promotion of maritime domaine awareness (MDA) in the Indian Ocean.

Digital governance and partnerships

  • Expand the network of digital partnerships with Indo-Pacific partners, and explore potential new Digital Partnership Agreements.
  • Strengthen cooperation on research and innovation with like-minded regional partners under the ‘Horizon Europe’ programme.

Digital connectivity

  • The EU will strengthen connections between Europe and the Indo-Pacific and help partner countries address the digital divide and further integrate into the global digital ecosystem.
  • Support partners to establish a good regulatory environment and facilitate funding to improve connectivity on the ground between Europe and the Indo-Pacific.

Security and defence

  • Promote an open and rules-based regional security architecture, including secure sea lines of communication, capacity-building and enhanced naval presence in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Explore ways to ensure enhanced naval deployments by EU Member States in the region.
  • Support Indo-Pacific partners’ capacity to ensure maritime security.
  • Facilitate capacity-building for partners to tackle cybercrime.

More information on the Enhancing Security Cooperation in and with Asia (ESIWA) project.

Human security

  • Support healthcare systems and pandemic preparedness for the least-developed countries in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Reinforce the EU’s disaster risk reduction and preparedness engagement in the Indo-Pacific.

Read the Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council

Updated: February 2023