Maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region has been identified as a key topic to be developed through a new track 1,5 dialogue conducted between the European Union and India, with the National Maritime Foundation acting as the leading interlocutor on the Indian side.
With this mechanism, the European Union is exploring ways to build on its existing maritime security engagements, Operation Atalanta, the Critical maritime Routes for Indian Ocean, CRIMARIO, and the MASE programme, as well as developing new initiatives focused on port security in the region.
Among a myriad of topics identified as being of specific relevance and worth exploring further, Maritime Domain Awareness was identified by both sides. Following this, CRIMARIO was invited for the first workshop ‘Securing the Maritime Commons: India, the European Union and the Indian Ocean Maritime Security’ that was held in New Delhi on 7-8 February 2019. The current state of the project and its foremost achievement in terms of enhancing information sharing and contributing to regional capacity building needs was presented to the audience with a strong emphasis on the concept of IORIS.
IORIS as a maritime information sharing platform designed to respond to the aspiration of the IOR, attracted a great amount of interest from the part of the Indian Navy. Discussions are currently progressing to grant the the newly established Indian Information Fusion Center- Indian Ocean Region, IFC-IOR access to the platform.
In order to further the dialogue launched early 2019, a second session of the EU-India workshop on maritime security was held on 18-19 September 2019, in Brussels. Six main topics were explored :
* Strategic developments in Indian Ocean maritime security;
* Maritime security in the Western and Southern Indian Ocean : traditional and non-traditional maritime security threats in the Western and Southern Indian Ocean, including the possibility of developing third country cooperation;
* Building Maritime Domain Awareness: existing MDA tools/centres and steps to strengthen their interlinkage;
* Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR): opportunities for EU-India cooperation to improve anticipation of humanitarian crises and disasters, to enhance cooperation on preparedness, response strategies and regional emergency response frameworks;
* Enhancing connectivity: opportunities for the EU and India to enhance maritime security through cooperation on the connectivity agenda;
* Strengthening ocean governance and regional organisations: EU and Indian perspectives on how to enhance ocean governance in the IOR to strengthen maritime security.
Apart from fruitful exchanges on the above topics, the workshop provided an excellent opportunity to announce the expansion of CRIMARIO, with the forthcoming launch of CRIMARIO 2 from 2020 to 2024. With this project, the EU aims to expand the use of IORIS to the whole Indian Ocean rim with a focus on Asian coastal countries.
No doubt that this new perspective of enhancing the scope of the regional MDA across a wider horizon will be at the centre of the forthcoming discussions at the third EU-India workshop to be held in 2020.