September 1, 2019

Europe and Indo-Pacific Connectivity

The following discussion paper was published by the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) in Singapore in September 2019. The introduction is below and the full text can be accessed here.

When political leaders, security officials and economic policymakers look at maps today, their eyes are as likely to look beyond boundaries to new kinds of lines being drawn: maritime trading routes, railway lines, transcontinental highways pipelines and energy transmission networks. Connectivity is becoming one of the primary arenas of geopolitical competition in the early 21st century. Nowhere is this more important than in the Indo-Pacific – a vast region extending from East Africa to the west coast of the Americas – a region that is experiencing both dynamic economic growth and intensifying security competition.

While in a narrow sense not ‘of the region’, Europe will be tremendously affected by these developments in the Indo-Pacific and will have a decisive role to play in shaping the emerging connectivity picture. As a collective entity, Europe remains – along with the United States (US) and China – one of the major poles of the global economy. It boasts considerable financial resources, high-quality governance standards and technical and technological expertise. However, the ability to harness these capabilities for geopolitical ends will require greater conceptual clarity on the part of European leaders about regional dynamics, better coordination within, and targeted interventions to shape outcomes in Europe’s favour. This would allow Europe to use its comparative advantages – money, norms and knowledge – most effectively.

Read the full report here.