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Business News/ News / India/  EU, India to ramp up defence and security cooperation: EU special envoy

EU, India to ramp up defence and security cooperation: EU special envoy

As the world is facing major geopolitical inflection points, EU see India as a key partner in implementing its strategy for the Indo-Pacific, said Richard Tibbels, EU Special Envoy for the region.

Richard Tibbels, EU's special envoy for the Indo-Pacific.Premium
Richard Tibbels, EU's special envoy for the Indo-Pacific.

Brussels: The European Union’s defence and security cooperation with India in the Indo-Pacific is expected to increase amid a worsening of the security environment in the region, said Richard Tibbels, the grouping's special envoy for the Indo-Pacific.

“The EU has a clear interest in an Indo-Pacific region where sovereign, independent countries have the strength to protect their national interests, free of coercion," Tibbels told Mint.

“As the world is facing major geopolitical inflection points, we see India as a key partner in implementing EU’s Strategy for the Indo-Pacific. This is reflected also in the 2022 EU’s Strategic Compass, where India is specifically mentioned. 

We have already stepped up our security cooperation in recent years with a first joint naval exercise in the Gulf of Guinea and India has also participated in an exercise with EU Operation Atalanta in the North-West Indian Ocean," Tibbels added.

Over the last few years, India and the EU have launched joint maritime exercises, including in the Gulf of Guinea and the Northwest Indian Ocean. The two sides have set up a number of dialogues on defence and security.

The 27-nation grouping has also launched a number of projects aimed at improving security cooperation with Indo-Pacific countries. The EU’s CRIMARIO project focuses on improving maritime domain awareness capabilities for Indo-Pacific countries. 

The EU-funded Enhancing Security in and with Asia (ESIWA) programme builds cooperation on cyber security, counter-terrorism and maritime security. India works with the EU on the programme.

“You are likely to see an increase in the EU’s security and defence cooperation with India and greater engagement across the Indo-Pacific," Tibbels said. A key aspect of this cooperation will be in the domain of space security.

“Cooperation on space security issues should also certainly be explored between India and the EU as we both have high stakes in the space domain," he added. The EU launched a strategy on space for security and defence in 2023.

India and the EU raised their relations to the level of a strategic partnership in 2004. Defence and security have only recently become a key part of the agenda.

For example, the EU and India released a joint roadmap to 2025 during a meeting in 2020. The roadmap commits to strengthen military to military relations, cooperation on cyber-security, counter-piracy, peacekeeping, nuclear proliferation and disarmament.

This has become particularly important as the regional security order in the Indo-Pacific has begun to unravel.

“The Indo-Pacific is seeing intense geo-political competition and increasing tensions in the South and East China Seas, the Taiwan Strait, not to mention the actions of the DPRK (North Korea) undermining the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and the border disputes between India and China. The stability of the region is also threatened by attempts at economic coercion, disinformation and malevolent actions in the cyber field," Tibbels said.

“What is important for the EU is that there must be a level-playing field for economic relations and aggressive military rhetoric and exercises must be avoided and the UN Charter and international law, notably UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), must be respected," he added.

Also Read | India-EU FTA next round to start in early May

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Published: 17 Apr 2024, 05:41 PM IST
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