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India-EU ties

  • IASbaba
  • August 17, 2022
  • 0
International Relations
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Context: While India celebrates its 75th year of Independence, it also celebrates 60 years of diplomatic relations with the European Union (EU).

Evolution

  • A cooperation agreement signed in 1994 took the bilateral relationship beyond trade and economic cooperation.
  • The first India-EU Summit, in June 2000, marked a watershed in the evolution of the relationship.
  • At the fifth India-EU Summit in 2004, the relationship was upgraded to a ‘Strategic Partnership’.
  • The two sides adopted a Joint Action Plan in 2005 towards strengthening dialogue and consultation mechanisms in the political and economic spheres, enhancing trade and investment, and bringing peoples and cultures together.
  • The 15th India-EU Summit, in July 2020, provided a common road map to guide joint action and further strengthen the partnership over the next five years.
  • The road map highlights engagement across five domains: foreign policy and security cooperation; trade and economy; sustainable modernisation partnership; global governance; and people-to-people relations.

Areas of cooperation

  • The India-EU partnership has grown rapidly ever since.

Economic Partnership

  • Bilateral trade between the two surpassed $116 billion in 2021-22.
  • The EU is India’s second largest trading partner after the U.S., and the second largest destination for Indian exports.
  • There are 6,000 European companies in the country that directly and indirectly create 6.7 million jobs.

Climate Partnership

  • India and the EU have several avenues of collaboration.
  • For example, the ‘green strategic partnership’ between India and Denmark aims to address climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, and the India-Nordic Summit in May focused on green technologies and industry transformation that are vital for sustainable and inclusive growth.
  • All this will act as a catalyst for enhanced cooperation between the two regions.

Defence Partnership

  • Cooperation with the EU in the defence sector has also increased substantially.
  • India and the EU regularly conduct joint military and naval exercises which reflects on their commitment to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The first maritime security dialogue between the two in 2021 focused on cooperation in maritime domain awareness, capacity-building, and joint naval activities.
  • France’s on-time delivery of 36 Rafale fighter jets and willingness to offer Barracuda nuclear attack submarines to the Indian Navy reflects the growing level of trust in their relationships.
  • Leading European defence equipment manufacturers are willing to partner with Indian companies for defence projects aligned with the ‘Make in India’ programme.

Innovation Ecosystem

  • Another rapidly growing area of engagement is the start-up and innovation ecosystem across India and Europe.
  • Furthermore, the Science and Technology Joint Steering Committee between the two focus on areas such as healthcare, Artificial Intelligence, and earth sciences.
  • In 2020, there was an agreement for research and development cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy between the European Atomic Energy Community and the Government of India.

Challenges

  • Both have differing opinions and divergent interests in some areas.
  • India’s reluctance to explicitly condemn Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, and the country’s increasing economic cooperation with Russia, has been one area of disagreement.
  • India has called out the EU’s double standards on the same, for the EU purchases 45% of its gas imports from Russia in 2021.
  • There is also ambiguity on the EU’s strategy in tackling the rise of China.
  • Its muted response during the Galwan clash is a case in point.
  • India’s economic, political and demographic weight could be deftly leveraged by the EU to counterbalance China’s influence across the region. But there seems to be some hesitancy about this.

Way forward

  • India and the EU should not let such divergences of views overwhelm the many areas of convergence among them.
  • The proactive resumption of the ambitious India-EU free trade and investment agreement in 2021 is a step in the right direction.
  • European partners acknowledge India as an important pillar in ensuring stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The EU wants to be more than just a trading bloc and is seeking alliances with like-minded countries like India.

India and the EU are political and economic poles in an increasingly multi-polar world. Our ability to work together, therefore, can shape global outcomes.

Source: The Hindu

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