Author : Gitanjali Sinha Roy, In the last two years, there has been immense development in the domain of Indo-Pacific. Earlier, the Indo-Pacific was seen as a construct and now, it has become a full-fledged strategy for many countries. India and European Union (EU) have also been actively involved in building their Indo-Pacific strategies as both have realized that there is a strong and sustainable partnership which can be developed in the domain of maritime security in the Indian Ocean. EU understands the value of the Indo-Pacific as it covers the multiple realms of the global supply chain, international trade and commerce and investments in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea and so, the safety and security of the Indo-Pacific is of vital importance to EU. Keeping these developments in mind, on 19 April 2021, EU Member States agreed for a Joint Communication which set the way for EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. The Joint Communication agreed on four key points which were a)strengthening EU’s efforts in the Indo-Pacific b) engaging in the Indo-Pacific c)imbibing principles of partnership and cooperation in EU and d) extending EU’s vision with other partners.[i] The aim of EU was not only to strengthen its presence but also contribute in the stability, security and prosperity in the region. India-EU Maritime Security Cooperation On 20 January 2021, the first maritime security dialogue between India and EU was held virtually and it was chaired by Director Joanneke Balfoort from EEAS and Joint Secretary, Mr. Sandeep Arya from the Indian side.[ii] They focused on the maritime security and put greater emphasis on regional cooperation between India and EU.[iii] Further, on 8 May 2021, a Joint Statement between Indian and EU leaders was held where they inaugurated the maritime security dialogue and looked toward enhancing cooperation between Indian Navy and EU Naval Force Somalia– Operation(EUNAVFOR) ATALANTA in the region of the Indo-Pacific.[iv] The leaders also emphasized on the enhancement of dialogue in the domain of security and defence which would include joint initiatives and explore negotiations based on partnership agreement.[v] Later on 18 and 19 June 2021, the Indian Navy and the European Union’s Naval Force conducted a joint maritime exercise ‘Operation Atalanta’ in the Gulf of Aden aimed at anti-piracy operation.[vi] During this joint maritime exercise, there were activities like cross-deck helicopter landings, boarding operations, tactical maneuvers, search and rescue operations, simulated replenishment at sea and joint night-time patrol and naval parade.[vii]Also, there was a virtual information sharing exercise between India’s Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) and Atalanta’s Maritime Operations Centre and exchanging information through the Indian Ocean Region Information Sharing exercise.[viii] They also exchanged information through the Indian Ocean Region Information Sharing (IORIS) platform which helped them gain access to real time information.[ix] It has to be understood that the June meeting was a grand success as it not only represented significant cooperation in the domain of maritime security but they also agreed to further strengthen their relations to promote freedom of navigation, adhere to the rules-based order, maritime multilateralism and respecting the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. On 8 December 2021, a joint India-EU MDA and interoperability workshop was hosted by Critical Maritime Route Wider Indian Ocean (CRIMARIO) and IFC-IOR and they focused on how to develop interoperability in the region of Indo-Pacific.[x] They focused on strengthening regional security along with looking at a multidimensional approach towards interoperability.[xi] Recently, the Second Maritime Security Dialogue was held virtually on 1 February 2022 between India and EU where they focused on the developments and policies in the maritime security domain and this meeting highlighted India-EU maritime cooperation with special emphasis on India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and the EU’s strategy and addressed regional as well international maritime security issues.[xii] One has to understand that the efforts made by EU to work closely with India needs to be seen from their perspective of gaining access to the Indian Ocean sea routes which is vital for the EU economies as 80 percent of their trade and commerce functions from there.[xiii] Way Ahead India and EU in the future should work together by sharing common values of democracy and rule of law. There is a major potential for joint naval exercises and port calls which would benefit the maritime domain awareness along with sharing information. By cooperating with one another, India and EU can share data-driven innovations and help create a proper network of data between them. This data-driven innovation should be seen from the perspective of working on critical and new emerging technologies like the Internet of Things, industrial data, advanced manufacturing, robotics, 3D printing, blockchain technologies and artificial intelligence. They can also cooperate with the other QUAD members who would help strengthen the efforts in the domain of data strategy and security. Further, the countries could work on building stronger logistical services where they can cooperate in aiming for a sustainable and energy-efficient environment. They can also work on a policy of multimodality by ensuring integrated transport modes and also establish interoperability at all levels in the transport system. This would inevitably help create a reliable supply chain interaction between the countries. Further, in the realm of environment, both the countries can look at ways to protect the marine life in the Indian Ocean and also pave the way for conservation of the flora and fauna. Another issue that must be dealt with is the need to protect the coastal communities and their food security. Thereby, it can be said that India and EU have greater potential and will steadily grow in the Indo-Pacific region. End Notes [i] Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council.(2021).The EU Strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, Brussels,16 September 2021. [ii] Ministry of External Affairs. 2021.Inaugural India-EU Maritime Security Dialogue, January 20,2021. [iii] Ibid. [iv] Ministry of External Affairs.2021. Joint Statement  EU-India Leaders Meeting, 8 May 2021. [v] Ibid. [vi] Benoit Semur.2021. EU and India Strengthen Cooperation on Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean, India Strategic, August 2021. [vii] Ibid. [viii] Ibid. [ix] Ibid. [x] Isabelle Gachie Vinson. 2022. India-EU Workshop on MDA and Interoperability, The EU CRIMARIO Project, 22 January 2022. [xi] Ibid. [xii] Ibid. [xiii] European Union Maritime Security Strategy,Maritime Cyprus, June 23, 2017. Gitanjali Sinha Roy is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Strategic Studies and Simulation (CS3), United Service Institution of India (USI), New Delhi, India. Previously, she worked at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi, India as Research Assistant. Her area of interest is mainly India-Japan foreign and security policy. Uploaded on : 07-04-2022 Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation that he/she belongs to or of the USI of India.