United Kingdom
Britain’s Missed Opportunities in the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor

The India-Middle East Europe Corridor (IMEC) was announced at the G20 summit in September 2023 by the United States, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The corridor aims to reshape power dynamics in Eurasia and bridge the middle geo-economic and geopolitical space between the Indo-Pacific and Europe, with a focus on West Asia.

Despite facing challenges such as geography, logistics, geopolitics, competition, and regional security, IMEC remains a priority for President Joe Biden, who highlighted its strategic importance in promoting stability, creating jobs, and reducing conflicts. However, the United Kingdom, America’s closest geopolitical ally, does not appear to be participating in IMEC. London stands out in the war in Gaza, and Washington should invite London to the IMEC to improve Britain’s standing and harmonize UK interests with those of the United States and the European Union in a changing global environment.

The US needs a robust British presence globally, particularly in the UK, due to its involvement in the AUKUS security pact, support for Ukraine, and involvement in the UK-Japan-Italy project, and to promote a strategic UK-EU relationship post-Brexit. Although the United Kingdom is not seeking re-entry into the EU single market or customs union anytime soon, IMEC could facilitate closer ties.

Global Britain has the potential to strengthen its post-Brexit relationships with India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates through IMEC. The economic growth of these West Asian nations has increased political influence over Britain, as seen in the recent visit of then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. However, the UK attaches more value to its ties with Abu Dhabi and Riyadh than to London. India, the world’s fifth-largest economy, has become the West’s preferred player in Eurasia, with deep strategic partnerships with the European Union and the United States. Delhi, with its demographic size, geography, and ambitions, is one of the most influential players in Eurasia.

British policymakers should actively seek entry into the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor, leveraging their historical role in shaping the Eurasian rimland trajectory. Lobbying the US and IMEC nations, the UK’s value proposition for joining the corridor is based on its unique insights.

The United Kingdom, with its territories and bases in Cyprus, has chosen a diplomatic approach to address rising tensions involving Egypt, Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. Unlike Paris, which has adopted a more aggressive stance, London has pursued a more measured response. Building on its good relations with Egypt and Turkey, the UK could potentially serve as a stabilizing factor for the Mediterranean component of the IMEC corridor.

As the world’s geopolitical and economic center shifts eastward, the UK must actively seek its place in this evolving multipolar world, particularly as the United States increasingly pivots to Asia. Participation in the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor offers London the potential to foster economic growth and contribute to the development of this ambitious transcontinental corridor. After Brexit, IMEC offers a platform for exploring alternative infrastructure projects and economic ventures that align with London’s strategic interests and global positioning.

BritainBritain's Missed Opportunities in the India-Middle East-Europe Corridorcorridore United StatesFranceG20 SummitGermanyIndiaIndia-Middle East-Europe CorridorIndia-Middle East-Europe Corridor (IMEC)ItalySaudi Arabiathe European UnionUKUnited Arab Emirates