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Indo-Pacific: Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP plenary

EEAS Press Team

Speech delivered by Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi 

Mr President, Honourable Members [of the European Parliament], 

I replace High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell for this debate and make the following statement on his behalf. 

Let me thank Rapporteur [David] McAllister and all MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] who have contributed to this report. 

I fully share the views expressed in the report that the EU has a vital geopolitical and economic interest in the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.  

Europe and the Indo-Pacific are highly interconnected. What happens in the Indo-Pacific has important implications for Europe, and vice versa. The region produces 60% of global GDP and is the second largest destination of EU exports. Together, the Indo-Pacific and Europe account for over 70% of [the] global trade in goods and services, and over 60% of foreign direct investment flows. 

At the same time, a new centre of global competition has emerged in the Indo-Pacific adding to increasing tensions on trade and supply chains. 

We live in an era of strategic rivalries and complex security threats. Military spending in the region has risen like nowhere else in the world. The display of force and increasing tensions in regional hotspots, such as in the South and East China Sea and in the Taiwan Strait, may have a direct impact on Europe’s security and prosperity. 

Today, the EU and its Indo-Pacific partners are facing similar challenges: hybrid and cyber security threats, disinformation and [the] weaponisation of economic interdependence. 

The EU’s values-driven approach, seeking cooperation beyond geopolitical divides and great power rivalries, makes us a reliable partner, including with the ASEAN, in navigating and supporting regional stability in the Indo-Pacific. 

Through its Indo-Pacific Strategy, the EU will seek to enhance regional security that is open and based on the rule-of-law, including secure sea routes and enhanced naval presence in the Indo-Pacific.  

In February [2022], we announced the extension of the concept of a coordinated maritime presence, so-called CMP, to the North-West Indian Ocean. This extension would allow the optimisation of the use of assets that EU Member States are deploying in the region. 

In line with the EU Indo-Pacific Strategy, the Strategic Compass is very clear about our willingness to build sustainable and proactive partnerships to enhance our presence in this region. 

The war in Ukraine has also redefined the EU’s global geopolitical role, including in this region. As your report highlighted, in the wake of the Ukraine war, the EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy is more relevant than ever. It is also more relevant than ever to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, while building strong and lasting partnerships. Our approach is one of cooperation not confrontation.  

Our commitment to the Indo-Pacific region is inclusive of all partners wishing to cooperate with the EU. We will deepen our engagement with like-minded partners that already have Indo-Pacific approaches of their own. 

Let me conclude by welcoming the Prague High-Level Dialogue on the Indo-Pacific that will be organised on 13-14 June [2022] by the upcoming Czech Presidency of the Council.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Link to the video (starting at 4:04): 


Closing remarks 

Mr President, Honourable Members, 

Today’s discussions have reiterated our willingness to contribute to the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region, in full respect of international law.  

Growing global challenges call for more multilateral governance and rules-based international cooperation, not less. 

What happens in Ukraine will have an impact on the Indo-Pacific region. For the Indo-Pacific region, it is therefore important, as it is for Europe, that international law and territorial integrity are respected. 

Thank you very much for your attention. 

Link to the video:  

Nabila Massrali
Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
+32 (0) 2 29 88093
+32 (0) 460 79 52 44
Xavier Cifre Quatresols
Press Officer for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
+32 (0)2 29 73582
+32 (0)460 75 51 56