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EU – India Partnership to Achieve Common Strategic Goals
15th European Union(EU)-India summit is being held virtually to strengthen the relationship between the traditional partners. This is being held in midst of COVID 19 pandemic and at a time of increasing antagonism of both the EU and India towards China.
For tackling China and achieving strategic goals, EU and India can be crucial partners for each other.
EU’s Chinese dilemma:
EU was a strong partner to Chinese economically since the early 2000’s. It championed the entry of China into WTO(World Trade Organization). EU investments in China are significant with its industrial development linked to supply chains in China.
Yet Chinese expansionist moves since 2013 have raised apprehension.
- 16+1 mechanism of China with central and eastern european countries is threatening the unity of European Union.
- Chinese acquisition of strategic ports(Piraeus in Greece) and technologies have raised red flags.
- Joint military exercises in baltic sea with Russia; misinformation campaigns of China and naval forays in South China sea and Indian ocean are raising security concerns
This was reflected in the recent EU-China summit which didn’t have a joint statement. EU is looking for ways to reduce its economic dependence on China and also protect its strategic interests.
In this context, EU views India as a strategic partner in realising a multipolar Asia to maintain balance of power in the region. This was reflected in EU Strategy document on India, 2018 and EU-India Agenda for Action, 2020.
Converging interests of India and EU:
Along with tackling China, interests converge in a range of areas including economy, infrastructure, technology, security and global multilateralism. Major areas of cooperation are:
- Economic cooperation:
- EU is 2nd largest destination of India’s exports as well as source of investments. Hence it is economically beneficial for early conclusion of an FTA(Free Trade agreement) and Investment treaty can benefit India economically. In the context of European supply chains mulling moving away from China, India must move fast to attract them.
- EU too will benefit economically from closer ties as it awaits a future without Britain. India’s large market presents the EU an economic opportunity. Hence it needs to address India’s concerns on movement of people and opening up of european markets for India’s goods and services.
- Technology: In 5G, IT, artificial intelligence(AI), space etc, India – EU are natural partners. With concerns on Chinese equipment and technologies being a common security concern, both can collaborate to develop technologies.
- Infrastructure: India needs investments in infrastructure development domestically to the tune of 102 lakh crore(National Infrastructure pipeline). EU can be a credible investor which brings in technology, expertise.
- Countering BRI(Belt and Road Initiative): Chinese strategy is increasing influence through debt trap diplomacy and BRI. This is being used in South Asia as well as Europe. Hence this is a common concern for both EU and India. To counter the same there is a need for collaboration to present alternatives. A common partnership of India, EU, Japan, USA can provide such alternatives. It serves India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
- Multilateral cooperation:
- Increasing Chinese influence in multilateral organizations is evident due to COVID 19 pandemic. EU – India cooperation is vital to check such institutional capture.
- Ensuring relevance of institutions like WTO, WHO in the context of USA’s exit needs collaboration of EU and India.
- Further, India’s strategic goals in counter-terrorism, UNSC(Security council) reforms need EU support.
- Security cooperation:
- Indo-pacific collaborationto ensure freedom of navigation and overflight. This needs cooperation in maritime domain awareness, information sharing in Indian ocean. Further joint naval exercises need to be increased along with japan, Australia and USA to counter Chinese naval forays into Indian Ocean
- Terrorism and radicalizationis a common concern for both nations.
- Combating misinformation campaigns as seen from China during COVID 19 regarding origin and response to virus
- Cyber securityand telecommunications security are potential areas of collaboration.
As EU and India become more assertive against China to protect economic, technological and strategic interests, India-EU collaboration can become pivotal. A comprehensive vision of close collaboration is needed to strengthen the partnership.
- India – EU collaboration serves the interests of both especially in the context of Chinese assertiveness. Discuss? [15 marks, 250 words]