On 19 April 2021, the Council announced that conclusions on an EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and Sahel, setting out the EU’s intention to reinforce itsstrategic focus, presence and actions in this region of prime strategic importance for EU interests was approved. The aim is to contribute to regional stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development, at a time of rising challenges and tensions in the region.
The renewed EU commitment to the Indo-Pacific, a region spanning from the east coast of Africa to the Pacific island states, will have a long-term focus and will be based on upholding democracy, human rights, the rule of law and respect for international law.
Since 2012 the Sahel has faced a profound security crisis that has hampered its development and, together with other long-term trends such as climate change, demographic pressure, the access to natural resources and epidemic risks, risks wiping out the progress made in recent decades.
During the period of the previous EU Sahel strategy (2011-2020), the EU has mobilised all instruments at its disposal, from humanitarian aid to security forces, to support the Sahel populations, and now intends to intensify its political efforts through a new, ambitious, inclusive and flexible strategy based on the principle of mutual accountability with Sahel partner authorities. Recognizing past as well as emerging trends, the EU will continue to support Sahel partners in fighting terrorist armed groups, and support their efforts in the field of security sector reform.
Current dynamics in the Indo-Pacific have given rise to intense geopolitical competition adding to increasing tensions on trade and supply chains as well as in technological, political and security areas. Human rights are also being challenged. These developments increasingly threaten the stability and security of the region and beyond, directly impacting on the EU’s interests.
Consequently, the EU’s approach and engagement will look to foster a rules-based international order, a level playing field, as well as an open and fair environment for trade and investment, reciprocity, the strengthening of resilience, tackling climate change and supporting connectivity with the EU. Free and open maritime supply routes in full compliance with international law remain crucial. The EU will look to work together with its partners in the Indo-Pacific on these issues of common interest.
As it was stated in the Council conclusions, the EU will cooperate with Indo-Pacific partners in the protection and promotion of human rights, including raising the issue of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as well as tackling climate change and biodiversity loss. We, ECOPNET (European Cooperation & Partnership Network) also would like to emphasize that the participation of civil societies is crucial to enhance bilateral and multilateral dialogues and build sustainable dialogues.
The EU will continue to develop partnerships in the areas of security and defence, including to address maritime security, malicious cyber activities, disinformation, emerging technologies, terrorism, and organised crime. The EU and its regional partners will also work together in order to mitigate the economic and human effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and work towards ensuring an inclusive and sustainable socio-economic recovery.
The Council tasked the High Representative and the Commission with putting forward a Joint Communication on cooperation in the Indo-Pacific by September 2021.
Source: European Council Press Releases