7 PM |India and EU have accomplished much. There is more to be done|21st January 2020

Context:India and EU relations.

More in news:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Brussels in March for the next India-European Union summit. 

European Union:

  • The European Union is a group of 28 countries that operate as a cohesive economic and political block.
  • The Treaty of Maastricht was signed in 1992 that laid the foundations for further cooperation in other aspects such as defense and foreign policy, internal affairs, judicial affairs, and in the development of a monetary and economic union which includes the adoption of a common currency. This enhanced integration led to the formation of the European Union (EU). 
  • The EU is run by five main bodies: European Parliament, Council of the Union, European Commission, Court of Justice, and the Court of Auditors.
  • 19 of these countries use EURO as their official currency. 9 EU members (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) do not use the euro.

India-European Union relations:

  • India-European Union relations started way back in the early 1960s, when India pursued diplomatic relations with the European Economic Community.
  • The signing of a cooperation agreement in 1994 broadened the scope for bilateral relationship beyond trade and economic cooperation.
  • India-EU Summit:
  • The first India-EU Summit took place in Lisbon on 28th June 2000 and marked a watershed in the evolution of the relationship.  
  • At the 5th India-EU Summit held at the Hague in 2004, the relationship was upgraded to a ‘Strategic Partnership’.
  • The two sides adopted a Joint Action Plan in 2005 (which was reviewed in 2008). This Joint Action Plan provided for strengthening dialogue and consultation mechanisms in the political and economic spheres, enhancing trade and investment, and bringing peoples and cultures together.
  • India-EU relations received another boost with the 13th India-EU Summit at Brussels in March 2016 adopting the India-EU Agenda 2020, which lays down a road map for cooperation on a wide range of issues including nuclear cooperation, investments, Internet Governance, climate change, 5G communications etc.
  • The 14th EU-India Summit in October 2017 in Delhi showed that the process of regular consultations and dialogue is back on track. It specified and deepened many areas of cooperation that were identified at the previous summit. Three Joint Statements were agreed upon: “cooperation in  combatting  terrorism”, “clean  energy  and  climate  change”  and  a “partnership for smart and sustainable urbanization.”
  • An impetuous for further strengthening EU-India relations came with the EU’s Strategy on India adopted in December 2018. The strategy was well-received in India. It underlines that the EU prioritises a long-term engagement with India with joint efforts on issues such as cyber and maritime security, energy and climate, as well as defending the rules-based global order that facilitates security, stability and predictable trade. 

Trade Relations:

  • The EU is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for €92 billion worth of trade in goods in 2018 or 12.9% of total Indian trade, ahead of China (10.9%) and the USA (10.1%).
  • The EU is the leading destination for Indian exports (almost 18% of the total).
  • India is the EU’s 9th largest trading partner, accounting for 2.3% of EU’s total trade in goods in 2018, well behind the USA (16.9%) and China (15.3%).
  • Trade in goods between the EU and India increased by 72% in the last decade.
  • Trade in services between the EU and India increased from €23 billion in 2010 to €29 billion in 2016. India is now the 4th largest service exporter to the EU and the 6th largest destination for EU services exports.
  • The EU’s share in foreign investment inflows to India more than doubled from 8% to 18% in the last decade, making the EU the first foreign investor in India.
  • EU foreign direct investment stocks in India amounted to €73 billion in 2016, which is significant but way below EU foreign investment stocks in China (€178 billion).
  • Some 6,000 EU companies are present in India, providing directly 1.7 million jobs and indirectly 5 million jobs in a broad range of sectors.
  • Indian companies invested over €50 billion in Europe since 2000.

Areas of cooperation:

  • Economic ties:
  • The India-EU FTA called the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) has been deadlocked since 2007. The two sides need to find a common ground to agree upon and then implement BTIA to further bolster their bilateral trade.
  • It is important for India to overcome its siege mentality, commit to institutional reform, and confront domestic vested interests. Reaching an agreement that will bring mutual benefit to both the EU and India will be a long journey, but, despite several missed deadlines, it is not out of reach.
  • Cooperation in the arena of Counter-terrorism:
  • India and the EU are committed to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation, as formulated in the 2005 Joint Action Plan, the 2009 Summit Declaration, and particularly the Joint Declaration on International Terrorism of 10th December 2010. 
  • India and the EU should work together on the completion of the comprehensive convention on international terrorism (CCIT), showing commitment to an international order based on legal rules and the conviction that the solution to terrorism lies in a well-functioning domestic and international judicial system.
  • Environment and Climate Change:
  • The India-EU Joint Working Group on Environment has met annually since 2007. The EU-India Action Plan Support Facility Programme (APSF) provides technical assistance in five priority sectors: waste, water, climate change, air pollution and chemicals.
  • In 2016 Prime Minister Narendra Modi and European leaders agreed on an EU-India Clean Energy and Climate Partnership (CECP).
  • In 2018, the EU joined efforts with the International Solar Alliance, headquartered in India. 
  • World Trade:
  • Both India and EU agree on the vital role of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the need to overcome the crisis of the dispute settlement system.
  • The EU has a strong record on liberalising trade.
  • Security:
  • The interest of both India and the EU (90 percent of whose external trade is seaborne) is paramount in going for maritime cooperation.
  • In the field of security, our cooperation is increasing, to bring further stability to regions of common interest for the EU and India, notably the Indian Ocean. Indian Navy vessels are now escorting World Food Programme ships in the framework of the EU Atalanta operation against piracy off the coast of Somalia.
  • Technology Transfer:
  • The EU is also one of the major sources of technology transfer to India. 
  • Germany has emerged as a clear leader in technical collaboration from the EU. Germany has a lead role to play in helping out India in terms of renewable energy projects and other green energy options for a de-carbonised development path.
  • The field of digital economy and cyber:

EU and India should deepen cooperation to protect fundamental freedoms in cyber space and the free flow of data — and counter the drift towards high-tech “de-coupling”

  • Global order:

As an emerging global power, India plays a key role in the current multipolar world. To maintain the rules-based global order, therefore, it is vital that the EU and India implement effective multilateralism and global economic governance. 


Both the European Union (EU) and India find themselves in the midst of a changing world order with ambiguous US priorities, increasing Chinese activity across continents, and numerous global challenges. The EU and India share common values and promote international peace and stability. Over the years, both India and EU have accomplished much and there is even more to be done to further strengthen our dynamic dialogue and cooperation in all areas of mutual interest and as players on the world stage.


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