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Getting Them On Board

20 Feb 2024 - 11:21
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Series: Guarding the Maritime Commons

Partners and Avenues for European Engagement in Indo-Pacific Maritime Security

How should Europe strengthen its engagement with the Indo-Pacific? While the continent is highly dependent on trade from the region, it has limited capabilities to protect its interests in the face of growing Sino-American competition. This new HCSS report examines how European states can engage in the Indo-Pacific by deepening cooperation with regional powers.

The Indo-Pacific comprises many actors, which are positioned along key chokepoints and share geopolitical and geoeconomic interests in protecting crucial sea lines of communication with Europe. This report does two things to establish pathways for deeper European engagement with Indo-Pacific states:

  • Based on relevance for maritime security and political affinity with European countries, it assesses the suitability of regional states as partners. Besides the usual suspects Australia, Japan and South Korea, it identifies an “inbetweener” group of countries, with whom cooperation can be fruitful but is not guaranteed, and states with whom engagement is unlikely to yield beneficial results.
  • It then zooms in on the “inbetweeners” to determine pathways for deepening ties. By comparing bilateral relations between different European and Indo-Pacific states along security, trade and investment, and capacity-building and infrastructure, the authors identify relative strengths and weaknesses of European states. Finally, they also contrast Europe’s involvement with that of China and the United States.

Based on the analysis, the report recommends to strengthen European collaboration with more ambivalent Indo-Pacific states, with a focus on trade and investment and capacity-building in the short- to medium-term.


Paul van Hooft, Benedetta Girardi and Alisa Hoenig - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies: Europe and the Indo-Pacific Hub (EIPH)

Other contributors: 

Giovanni Cisco