The rising centrality of the Indo-Pacific is self-evident. What remains to be defined is the potential role the EU could play, notably as a security actor. Given capacity constraints, the EU’s objectives in the region should focus on credibility and on safeguarding shared interests – for example securing sea lines of communication, an objective also shared by Japan.
Hard power remains the preferred language in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia unceremoniously dumping the French contract over US nuclear technology in the AUKUS affair, as well as India’s reluctance to take a position against Russia, a major provider of defence equipment, over its full-blown invasion of Ukraine demonstrate that being able to speak the language of power in a credible and reliable way takes precedence.
While the EU will unlikely become a defence security provider à la the United States, it is now clear that it must evolve its global stance. The adoption of the EU Indo-Pacific Strategy and cross-references to it in the EU’s Strategic Compass represent an important milestone for bolstering its security and defence posture. The EU would do well to support its efforts to be a more credible security and defence actor in the Indo-Pacific by upgrading relations with its strategic partners, Japan in primis. Further operational, capabilities development, and industrial cooperation with Japan must be considered and reinforced by triangulation with other strategic partners in the region.