As geopolitical power shifts from the Atlantic to the Pacific, policy-makers in the European Union (EU) ought to pay closer attention to the vast maritime region that lies in between: the Indian Ocean.

Actors such as the EU and its member states, China, India, the United States, Japan and Australia are steadily increasing their naval presence and their military capabilities in the Indian Ocean and in various strategic positions along its rim. Smaller naval powers such as Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea are also expanding their activities in the region. The absence of a comprehensive multilateral agreement on maritime security in the Indian Ocean makes this force projection dynamic highly problematic.

“There is at present no effective mechanism for multilateral cooperation on maritime security in the Indian Ocean”

The European Union needs to pay close attention to the risks and the potential benefits of a greater engagement in maritime security in the Indian Ocean. Against the backdrop of a crowded, unstable and increasingly militarized maritime space, this Policy Brief provides an overview of the main aspects that future EU policy planning on maritime security in the Indian Ocean must address.