Between Economic Security and Indo-Pacific Security: Prospects for Japan-India-EU Cooperation

Friday 27 October 2023 / 08:00 - 11:10 / Microsoft Teams

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Did you miss this webinar? The full recording is available on ISDP’s YouTube channel.

In recent years, the Indo-Pacific region has become the epicenter of not only global trade and economic growth but also fragile hotspots and geopolitical tensions. Moreover, the intensifying geopolitical competition between the two hegemons of today’s era, the U.S. and China, has led to increased economic insecurity and deteriorating international environment including territorial disputes.

To make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic has monumentally disrupted the supply chain networks, and the ongoing Ukraine war has weaponized food and energy security. Importantly, the ramifications of these catastrophes have not only increased economic and humanitarian suffering but also concretized the political divisions which were already taking shape. China’s coercive actions – militarily in its neighborhood and economically against its trade partners – and attempts to upturn the existing liberal world order in favor of a Sino-centric order have added to the regional instability fears.

As a result, major Indo-Pacific states that have been hedging their bets thus far are now beginning to show a new assertiveness in their search for security, inter-regional connectivity, bigger global profile, and strategic autonomy – be it India, the European Union (EU), Japan, or South Korea. One of the main challenges for major Indo-Pacific stakeholders has been to reduce the risks of over-dependence on China, as well as to redouble efforts toward traditional and non-traditional security cooperation mechanisms, including minilaterals, via like-minded partnerships.

In this context, the EU, India, and Japan are reliable, long-standing strategic bilateral partners that support an equitable multipolar world order. Notably, their well-aligned, inclusive regional visions – Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) and India’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), and the EU’s Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific – that embrace the centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have the potential to strengthen the rules-based, free, open international order and reinvigorate multilateralism.

But what would be the roadmap of such a collective cooperation approach?

This webinar aims to look into the prospects of EU-India-Japan cooperation through the lens of economic and regional security. It aims to address the following questions:

  1. In what ways can economic security be a driver to reduce geopolitical risks and enhanced cooperation between the EU, India, and Japan?
  2. What has been their (collective, bilateral, or individual) trajectory for creating regional economic security thus far?
  3. How can economic security be achieved in the Indo-Pacific? What role(s) can Europe play?
  4. How can the EU, India, and Japan strike a balance between pursuing economic growth and ensuring economic security in the Indo-Pacific?
  5. What can the three partners do to strengthen supply chain network, as well as sustainable infrastructure connectivity, in the Indo-Pacific?
  6. Are the new initiatives like the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) a tick-in-the-box or true game changers? What would be Japan’s role in the IMEC, as a valuable participant in the launch event but a non-signatory to the memorandum of understanding (MoU)?
  7. Can the EU, India, and Japan balance economic regional engagement with China while safeguarding their security and economic interests? In what ways?
  8. Can they bring about effective multilateralism while pursuing economic security ambitions?


Alfred Gerstl is an Associate Professor (International Studies) at the Department of Asian Studies at Palacký University Olomouc (Czech Republic) where he leads the EU-funded project “The EU in the volatile Indo-Pacific region” (2023–2025). Moreover, he is President of the Central European Institute of Asian Studies (CEIAS), a transnational think tank based in Bratislava (Slovakia). His research interests include international relations in the Indo-Pacific, ASEAN’s regional centrality, the South China Sea dispute, hedging strategies in Southeast Asia, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and the EU’s Global Gateway Initiative.

Ujal Singh Bhatia was appointed Member of the Appellate Body of the WTO in November 2011 and served in the Body till March 2020, including as its Chairman for two years. Prior to that he was India’s Ambassador to the WTO between 2004-2010. Mr. Bhatia joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1974 and served in various capacities in the state of Odisha as well as in the central government in Delhi. He spent two decades in Odisha in various positions, 6 years as District Magistrate of 3 districts in succession. In Delhi, he served in the Commerce Ministry for 5 years, and briefly in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, before moving to Geneva as Ambassador of India to the WTO. He has wide experience of trade policy issues at various levels – domestic, bilateral, regional and multilateral, and writes and speaks on trade and development issues frequently. He has published numerous papers and articles in Indian and foreign journals on a range of trade and economic issues. He is presently Honorary Professor at the National Law University, Delhi.



Dr. Swasti Rao is an Associate Fellow at the Europe and Eurasia Center, Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, India’s premier think tank under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence. She has a master’s in politics (spl’n. IR) and an M.Phil. from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has completed her PhD in Advanced Comparative International Politics from Tsukuba University, Japan. She holds an adjunct position at the Tokai University, Japan, in the capacity of a foreign collaborator for the Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) funded research project on “Civil Society and Urban Governance in Asia, 2020-2025” Her current research project at IDSA is on Conflicts in Europe amidst shifting Global Power Structures: Geometries of Deterrence and Europe’s Indo Pacific outreach as strategies for Threat Balancing. Her other work and research interests explore dimensions of the securitization debate in Europe, the Migrant Crisis, Europe’s Outreach to Indo -Indo-Pacific, Defence Cooperation between India and Major European Players, Multilateral Cooperation for Space Situational awareness and Maritime Domain Awareness. She also explores Europe-China and Europe-Japan relations and their global implications.

Julie Yu-Wen Chen is a Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Chen serves as one of the Editors of the Journal of Chinese Political Science. From 2023-2025, she is in the EU twinning project “The EU in the Volatile Indo-Pacific Region” where she leads the preparatory research and provides supervision and counseling to the junior researchers. Chen’s research and teaching are multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, spanning Political Sciences, International Relations, ethnic studies, sociology, and Chinese studies. She formerly held academic positions at Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan), University College Cork (Ireland), and Academia Sinica (Taiwan).


Moderated by:

Jagannath Panda, ISDPDr. Jagannath Panda is the Head of the Stockholm Center for South Asian and Indo-Pacific Affairs at the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Sweden. He is also a Senior Fellow at The Hague Center for Strategic Studies, The Netherlands, and an International Research Fellow at the Canon Institute for Global Studies in Japan. Dr. Panda has testified to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission at the US Congress. He is also the Series Editor for Routledge Studies on Think Asia. As a senior expert on China, East Asia, and the Indo-Pacific affairs, Dr. Panda’s research focuses primarily on India’s relations with Indo-Pacific powers (China, Japan, Korea, USA); China-India Relations, EU-India Relations; and EU’s infrastructure, connectivity and maritime initiatives in Indo-Pacific. Dr. Ahn is the principal investigator of the Korea Foundation-funded ISDP project “Framing an India-South Korea Connect in Indo-Pacific: Minilateralism to Multilateralism”.


This event is held and based on a collaboration between the SCSA-IPA of the Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP) in Sweden and the Kajima Institute for International Peace (KIIP) in Japan.