The new EU kid on geopolitical block

The Western Alliance is reconfiguring, and India must strengthen its political engagement with Europe. This is the clear lesson from the carving out of a new Anglosphere, Aukus, within the Western Alliance, to France’s consternation and general European annoyance. Formation of a new Australia, Britain and US grouping only strengthens the Quad and its purpose of keeping the Indo-Pacific free and open. In other words, India stands only to gain from the so-called Aukus. But India has to be alive to the shifts in geopolitical alignments and rebalance its own priorities.

Speaking to the European parliament, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged the creation of European defence capability. When, smarting from Donald Trump’s insular unilateralism, French President Emmanuel Macron had talked of the need for Europe to redefine its strategic capability outside US-led Nato, he had not found much uptake for his thesis. Now, in the wake of Joe Biden’s decision to leave Afghanistan before the end of August, announced without consulting his European allies, and the mess that it has created, European receptivity to the need for Europe to carve out its own geopolitical identity increases. And this is what von der Leyen had in mind. If – more likely, when – Macron wins a second term, European defence coherence will get fresh wind in its sails. Germany gave up its post-World War 2 extraterritorial abstinence in Kosovo, in the 1990s. With two decades of Afghanistan in its belly, Germany is now a ready foreign legionnaire. But prolonged dependence on the US for geopolitical leadership has left Europe inert in the face of challenges that trouble the US relatively less, such as when Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ‘diverted’ a Ryanair flight to an unscheduled stop in his country to arrest a dissident.

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India is conditioned to think privacy regulation and trade talks, when it comes to the EU. The EU is more than its individual members, with most of whom India has excellent ties. Time for Indo-EU political engagement.



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