The Council of the European Union emphasized the importance of the Indo-Pacific region in its statement, stating that “the Indo-Pacific region is the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity. It owns 60% of the world’s population, creates 60% of global GDP, and contributes to two thirds of the current global economic growth. The statement also mentioned that “60% of the world’s maritime trade passes through the seas of the Indo-Pacific region, one third of it through the South China Sea”. “The maritime channels in the Indo-Pacific region must remain free and open”.
The statement also expressed concern about the current situation in the Indo-Pacific region and emphasized the need to cooperate with like-minded partners. “The European Union has important interests in the Indo-Pacific region. It is in the interest of the European Union to maintain an open and rule-based structure in the region,” the statement said. “However, the current situation in the Indo-Pacific region has triggered fierce geopolitical competition and pressures on the supply chain have also exacerbated tensions in the fields of technology, politics and security. Human rights have also been challenged”.
The statement stated that the EU will strengthen cooperation in many areas such as ocean governance, health, research and technology, security and defense, and connectivity, and strengthen joint efforts to address global challenges such as climate change, and deal with the destructive effects of the new corona pneumonia epidemic on humanity and the economy, in order to ensure a sustainable and inclusive green socioeconomic recovery, and build a more resilient health system.
According to Reuters, the EU Foreign Ministers agreed to launch a more detailed strategy in September. Although the details need to be approved, the strategy may mean that the EU will adopt a higher-profile diplomatic stance on the Indo-Pacific issues and invest more manpower in the region, strengthen investment and may step up its security presence, such as sending ships through the South China Sea, or sending personnel to participate in patrols in Australia. The report believes that although China is not explicitly mentioned, the EU’s statement can be seen as a signal of solidarity with the US Biden Administration.
However, the Foreign Ministers of EU member states stated at the meeting that the new strategy is not aimed at China. German News Television reported that the concerned strategic documents of the EU announced at this time had highlighted the word “cooperation”. This was to reduce confrontation. Moreover, the EU will continue to explore the signing of a trade and investment agreement with the Indo-Pacific region, and also made it clear that it will take further measures to realise the China-EU Comprehensive Investment Agreement. The Foreign Ministers of the EU member states also emphasized that countries in the Indo-Pacific region hope that the EU will play a more active role in keeping trade open in the region and ensure that they will not need to choose between Beijing and Washington.
Recently, European countries including Germany, France and the United Kingdom have mentioned their own “Indo-Pacific strategy” and formulated plans to deepen relations with countries such as India, Japan, and Australia. Analysis believes that the actions of all parties are aimed at coping with “China’s growing influence”.