India and the EU intend to strengthen their operational cooperation at sea, including joint naval exercises and port calls, and protect the sea-lanes of communication.
They also intend to boost maritime domain awareness in the Indo-Pacific through mutual coordination and exchanges, the two sides said on Monday, reaffirming their interest to enhance cooperation in the field of maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region.
The statement of intent came after India and the EU conducted a joint naval exercise in the Gulf of Aden for the first time on June 18-19.
“The EU and India are committed to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region, underpinned by respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, democracy, rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, and peaceful resolution of disputes,” said the joint statement.
‘They reaffirm the primacy of international law, including the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”
The Gulf of Aden exercise involved Indian Navy frigate Trikand, EU NAVFOR assets, including Italian, Spanish, and French frigates, and French amphibious assault helicopter carrier Tonnerre.
The exercise was based on the scenario of an anti-piracy operation. It included cross-deck helicopter landings, complex tactical evolutions at sea, live firing, a night-time joint patrol and a naval parade in the high seas off the coast of Somalia, said the statement.
In January 2021, the EU and India launched a dialogue on maritime security and agreed to deepen their dialogue and cooperation in this domain.
The Indian Navy has been providing escort to World Food Programme chartered vessels, coordinated by EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta.
The Indian Navy has previously participated in the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) conference, co-hosted by Operation Atalanta, whose assets conducted several joint exercises with Indian vessels in the past.