Is the EU turning towards the Indo-Pacific?

Berlin is preparing to send 240 armed troops to Australia to attend joint military exercises Down Under. It’s the latest signal that Germany is turning its foreign policy focus to the Indo-Pacific after it also pledged to deploy two warships to the region in 2024.

Chief of the German Army Alfons Mais said joining the exercises was necessary considering “the economic interdependencies” between Berlin and the region.

Over 30,000 troops from 12 countries will be participating in the biannual joint drills, so while Germany’s participation is noteworthy, the exercises aren’t exactly exclusive.

Of course, Germany isn’t the only European country that has shifted its focus eastward lately:

  1. 🇬🇧 The UKis poised to officially join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) free trade agreement.
  2. 🇮🇹 Italy has promised to send a patrol vessel to Southeast Asia to engage in exercises with “friendly navies”.
  3. 🇱🇹 Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Poland recently published new Indo-Pacific strategies.

Intrigue’s take: The EU has considerable economic interests in the Indo-Pacific – it is the region’s top investor, leading development partner, and critical trading partner.

There are also ~1.65 million French citizens living in French territories throughout the region, which gives one of the EU’s most influential members a territorial interest in the Indo-Pacific as well.

The problem for Europe is that it must pursue all these interests without upsetting an increasingly assertive China, something French President Emmanuel Macron would tell you is far easier said than done.

Also worth noting:

  • Germany confirmed it will purchase 100 Australian military vehicles as part of a $1B military deal announced yesterday.
  • In April 2021, the EU published its first Indo-Pacific policy, outlining its commitments to the region and affirming its intention to grow its involvement.
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