This chapter argues that the European Union as the largest trading bloc in the world has a fundamental interest in maintaining open, free trading, rule and law governed and sustainable regimes in the Indian Ocean, South Asian and Pacific regions. France and the United Kingdom have their historical and present day maritime and security presence there, bolstered by their role in the United Nations Security Council. The EU’s roles and policies in Asia are classically concerned with economic, political and cultural links and development policies rather than on security.

China’s emergence as a major power creates a need to respond across the board to its ambitious policy outreach. The EU-Japan trade agreement deals with 40 percent of global trade. India’s central role in developing the Indo-Pacific concept along with Japan, the US and Australia raises a real challenge for the EU in this changing setting. The EU’s strong relationship with ASEAN finds the two regional organisations agreeing on multilateralism, good and sustainable governance and maintaining a balance between regional partners and competitors.

The chapter concludes by stating that if the Indo-Pacific concept is intended to contain China, it cuts across these shared values, can force an undesired binary choice on ASEAN and the EU and brings geopolitical competition to the region. The EU is facing strong calls to strengthen its security sovereignty in response to the US unilateralism. This contribution explores how that relates to its developing policy on the Indo-Pacific construct.

Keywords: ASEAN; Belt and Road Initiative; China; EU; India; Indo-Pacific; Multilateralism; Regionalism