In the month of October alone, India hosted an in-person summit with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, welcomed the UK’s new foreign secretary, Elizabeth Truss, held the first-ever India-UK maritime dialogue, and held wide-ranging foreign and security policy consultations with the European Union, as well as a strategic partnership review. Observers of Indian foreign policy will notice that the country’s interest in engaging European countries, large and small, is unprecedented. While these meetings do not often make the news, Europe continues to play a significant role in New Delhi’s diplomatic agenda.
In many ways, India and Europe appear to have come to terms with each other’s strategic importance. From New Delhi’s perspective, the one major stumbling block is Europe’s approach to and evaluation of the China problem. Similarly, European debates have progressed far more than the Delhi foreign policy establishment recognizes. For example, the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy describes a “multifaceted approach” to China that includes both cooperation and pushback when fundamental conflicts exist. When dealing with China-related concerns, it even leaves the door open to cooperating with other partners and coalitions, such as the Quad.
In New Delhi, a stronger European interest and presence in the Indo-Pacific region is welcomed. Europe has the economic and technological heft to be an essential partner for India in fighting China’s economic and political dominance in the region. While India’s outreach to Europe has not always been a smooth or perfect process, the foreign policy establishment in New Delhi is beginning to recognize that Europe can be a valuable partner in developing India’s domestic capacities and resilience, as well as helping India achieve its foreign policy objectives.
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