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SOUTH ASIA DISCUSSION PAPERS
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EUROPE IN THE INDO-PACIFIC:
MOVING FROM PERIPHERY TO THE CENTRE?

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About the Institute of South Asian Studies
The Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) is dedicated to research on contemporary South Asia.
It was established in July 2004 as an autonomous research institute at the National University of Singapore (NUS).The establishment of ISAS reflects the increasing economic and political importance of South Asia, and the strong historical links between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
The Institute seeks to promote understanding of this vital region of the world, and to communicate knowledge and insights about it to policymakers, the business community, academia and civil society, in Singapore and beyond.
Joint symposium by the Institute of South Asian Studies; the European Union Centre in Singapore; the Swedish Institute of International Affairs; Swedish South Asian Studies Network, Lund University; Embassy of Sweden, Singapore; and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Singapore. Europe in the Indo-Pacific: Moving from the Periphery to the Centre? 3 June 2019 © 2019 Institute of South Asian Studies. All Rights Reserved
Cover photograph courtesy of New York Public Library Public Domain Archive

SOUTH ASIA DISCUSSION PAPERS
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Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore
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SOUTH ASIA DISCUSSION PAPERS

EUROPE IN THE INDO-PACIFIC: MOVING FROM PERIPHERY TO THE CENTRE?

CONTENTS

Introduction

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C. Raja Mohan and John J. Vater

The European Union’s Strategic View toward the Indo-Pacific

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Patryk Kugiel

Connecting Asia and Europe – The European Union’s Vision and Strategy

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Jivanta Schottli

Europe and Indo-Pacific Connectivity

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Dhruva Jaishankar

Japan’s Inclusive Indo-Pacific Vision – Seeking Multi-layered Security Cooperation

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Shutaro Sano

India and Europe: Middle Power Collaborations in the Indo-Pacific

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Darshana M. Baruah

High Hanging and Bitter: Aligning the EU with ASEAN-led Security Forums

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Malcolm Cook

Defining New Grounds for Cooperation between the EU and ASEAN

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Frederic Grare

About the Authors

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About the Partner Organisations

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SOUTH ASIA DISCUSSION PAPERS

EUROPE IN THE INDO-PACIFIC: MOVING FROM PERIPHERY TO THE CENTRE?

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SOUTH ASIA DISCUSSION PAPERS

EUROPE IN THE INDO-PACIFIC: MOVING FROM PERIPHERY TO THE CENTRE?

INTRODUCTION
C. Raja Mohan &
John J. Vater

The rise of China and the economic ascent of Asia, more generally, are redrawing the world’s geopolitical map. The emerging rivalry between China and the United States (US) has begun to transform the Indo-Pacific into a major site of strategic contestation. Despite wide disagreement on the nature, scope and motivations behind the promotion of the Indo-Pacific, the new geographic construct is beginning to gain traction. The Indo-Pacific may or may not substitute the earlier inventions like the Asia-Pacific, but it will capture some key elements of the changing regional geography and shape the regional discourse. The nature of the political, economic and security architecture for the region will continue to animate the US, China, Japan, India and other regional actors. Europe, it has been widely assumed, will have no interest in the Indo-Pacific. That presumption is rooted in two important trends. In post-colonial Asia, there was inevitable diminution of Europe’s historic political weight in the region as the US took up the burden of securing the region. Since the end of the Cold War, Europe has been preoccupied with the reshaping of its own structures of integration and had little time for Asian geopolitics.

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EUROPE IN THE INDO-PACIFIC: MOVING FROM PERIPHERY TO THE CENTRE?

The uncertain trajectory of US foreign policy in recent years as well as the rapid rise of China and its expansive Belt and Road Initiative are nudging Europe to pay greater attention. After all, Europe has huge stakes in the economic stability of Asia as well as the sea lines of communication connecting Europe and Asia through the Indo-Pacific. Europe, which had played a decisive role in the construction of transregional infrastructure in an earlier era of globalisation, can contribute to the new debates on regional connectivity. And as the integration between Europe and Asia accelerates and the threat of US retrenchment from Eurasia looms, Europe will also have to ponder over its security role in the east especially amidst the new Cold War in the region.
To discuss Europe’s potential role in the emerging turbulence of the Indo-Pacific, the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) at the National University of Singapore organised a symposium on 3 June 2019 in Singapore. Our partners in this enterprise were the European Union (EU) Centre in Singapore; the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI), Stockholm; Swedish South Asian Studies Network (SASNET), Lund University,

Lund; Embassy of Sweden, Singapore; and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Singapore.
Symposium participants included scholars from SASNET; UI; the European Union External Action Service, Brussels; the Polish Institute of International Affairs, Warsaw; Brookings-India and CarnegieIndia, New Delhi; the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC; the Perth US-Asia Centre, University of Western Australia, Crawley; the Centre for International Exchange, National Defence Academy of Japan, Yokosuka; the Institute for Strategic and International Studies, London; ISAS; the EU Centre in Singapore; the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University; and ISEASYusof Ishak Institute, Singapore.
The symposium addressed the prospect for a renewed European role in Asia and aimed at generating an Asian appreciation of the possibilities and limitations of the European role on connectivity and security in the Indo-Pacific. The panellists examined emerging European perspectives on the Indo-Pacific, Europe and Indo-Pacific connectivity, the interdependent needs of

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EUROPE IN THE INDO-PACIFIC: MOVING FROM PERIPHERY TO THE CENTRE?

Europe and the Asian Middle Powers and aligning the EU with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) security forums. The following is the collection of papers presented at the symposium. This introduction is a brief reflection on the issues debated there.
The first paper in the collection reaffirms the vital political, economic and strategic interests the EU has in the Indo-Pacific and explains why the EU has failed to formulate an Indo-Pacific strategy thus far. Patryk Kugiel outlines why the Indo-Pacific has played a marginal role in discussions of EU foreign policy despite the rise of Asia. Among the reasons cited by him are the EU’s limited maritime presence in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the continuing lack of conceptual clarity around this regional concept and fears of alienating China through perceptions of containment. Nevertheless, Kugiel emphasises the EU’s clear need to formulate a firm response to this geopolitical situation, especially given the EU’s preference for a multipolar, multilateral world order, and the obvious connections between European prosperity and Asian security.

One observation that emerged from the discussion following the first session was how the EU’s foreign policy can sometimes appear opaque to outside actors unfamiliar with the EU’s internal workings. This produces uncertainties about whether the EU is actually ‘one player’ or ‘multiple agendas’. Many agreed that the EU’s principles of international law, open markets and partnerships across and between regions, however, have much in common with the framework and values envisioned for the Indo-Pacific, and thus provide an avenue for the EU to assist in developing the region’s new security architecture.
The EU realises that hard security is perhaps not its best added value; but other aspects of security and non-traditional security (such as cyber security and migration) as well as connectivity (which may reflect geostrategic as well as sociological and maritime dimensions) are becoming increasingly important. The relationship between geostrategy and connectivity is the issue explored in the next two papers. Jivanta Schottli writes on the EU’s emerging realpolitik vision of connectivity and Dhruva Jaishankar elaborates on how connectivity is

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fast becoming a primary site of geopolitical struggle.
Both papers highlight how the EU’s foreign policy is taking a more pragmatic turn in its recognition that the EU must combine economic objectives with political goals, and leverage its multilateral financial instruments, standards and knowledge to make a place for itself and its businesses on the world stage. Articulating a global connectivity strategy is a tightrope the EU must walk between the US and China, the latter of which exists pervasively for the EU as partner, competitor and provider. The need for the EU to communicate and develop a consensus about what its vision of connectivity intends for the international order is pivotal, because the EU will be competing with China and Russia as a primary connectivity provider and influencer of global norms.
The Indo-Pacific countries are like the EU in that they prefer a multipolar world in which they do not have to pick sides. The next set of papers identifies the shared interests of the middle powers. Shutaro Sano examines how Japan is deepening and strengthening connectivity with regional and external partners. India, for its part, is eager to

escape its confining neighbourhood and a defunct South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and seeks new friendships elsewhere. Within this context, Darshana M. Baruah draws attention to the wide scope for collaboration for countries in building a security architecture in the Indo-Pacific at bilateral, trilateral and multilateral levels. She argues that burden sharing is a must, especially when considering the capacity constraints of India, Japan, Australia and France that limit activity to their respective oceanic sub regions.
Gordon Flake, the moderator of the session and Chief Executive Officer of the Perth USAsia Centre, endorsed the Indo-Pacific as a geographical descriptor for policy making, as it captures the rise of India, Indonesia, Vietnam and ASEAN, and resonates with Australia’s outlook as a two-ocean nation. He offered his vision of the Indo-Pacific as a ‘wide open field’, whereby expanding the region to outside partners might dilute the relative concentration of Chinese influence, and he welcomed the roles of the United Kingdom and France as Indo-Pacific powers.
The final set of papers examines opportunities for EU collaboration through

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