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India, EU Virtual Summit (17 July 2020)

India, EU Virtual Summit

Context

Recently, a virtual summit was held between the leaders of the EU and India. They adopted a joint declaration on moving towards a more circular economic model that provides for a reduction in primary resource consumption and enhances the use of secondary raw materials.

Background

  • The 27-nation EU is India's largest trading partner for goods with trade exceeding 100 billion dollars.
  • The bloc is one of the largest investors in India with a cumulative investment of over 91 billion dollars.
  • The EU is also an important source for technology, innovation, and best practices for India.

Summary of the Debate

Key Takeaways from the Summit

  • Inclusion of maritime cooperation: India and the European Union (EU) have decided to launch a dialogue on maritime security and consultations and enhance naval cooperation, emphasizing the need to preserve safety and stability in the Indian Ocean.
  • Civil Nuclear Deal between India and EU: European Atomic Energy Community or Euratom and Department of Atomic Energy, India signed this agreement which will boost cooperation on research and development for peaceful nuclear energy.
  • They discussed their strong commitment to global peace and security disarmament and non-proliferation and to combat terrorism in all its forms.
    • There were dialogues on organized crimes, terrorism, and cooperation between Europol and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to combat this.
  • The digital economy and connectivity, based on human-centric and extensive digitalization and sustainable, rules-based outlook to connectivity were also discussed.
  • The India-EU Strategic Partnership: Roadmap to 2025 summarizes cooperation in wide-ranging areas including foreign and security policy, trade & investment, modernization, sustainable development, research and innovation, education and exchange of scholars, migration, and mobility, and global governance.

Bilateral Relation Between India and the EU

  • Trade and Investment: The EU was India’s largest trading partner while India was the EU’s 9th largest trading partner in 2018.
    • India’s bilateral trade with the EU in 2018-19 stood at $ 115.6 billion.
    • India’s exports to EU valued at $ 57.17 billion and India’s imports from the EU totaled $ 58.42 billion.
    • EU is the largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India. Over the period April 2000 to June 2018, EU countries Investment into India was totaled $ 90.7 billion.  Indian investments in the EU are estimated at Euro 50 billion.
    • India and the EU have unsuccessfully negotiated a bilateral Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) in the past. But in the future new FTA can be signed between the two sides.
  • Science, Research, and Innovation: There was a co-funding mechanism (CFM) established by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and the European Commission (EC) to support joint research projects.
    • India and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) signed a cooperation agreement in the field of fusion energy research in 2009.
  • Culture & Education: India-EU Joint Declarations of 2010 cover cooperation in the fields of education & training, and multilingualism. Indian students have facilities of Erasmus+ scholarship for studies in EU countries.
    • Festivals of culture (e.g. Europalia-India festival), exchanges on heritage such as yoga & ayurveda, and other activities are taken up between the two sides.

India and EU: In Present Context

  • In Covid-19 period, the equations of geopolitics are changing and countries are looking for new avenues for their growth.
  • China factor: No one can deny that in the past few months the reputation of China has been degraded. It works secretively and is not open to the world.
    • There are humanitarian issues in China and a Multilateral block like the EU never felt comfortable with this.
    • Chinese aggressive policy with India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan etc, and its propagandas are forcing other powers of the world to shake hands on common grounds.
  • India’s moment: It is a reality that China is a super economic power and it is not easy for any bloc or country to break its all economic ties with China.
    • India cannot replace the giant manufacturer all of a sudden but India is a primary candidate where other powers are seeing a reliable partner.
  • Why India-EU: India and the EU have a common value, common interest, strategic convergence, and common grounds for work. Both share the value of democracy, rule of law, plurality, and humanitarian issues.
    • Fundamentally India is emotionally comfortable with the EU, its successive generations have gone for education in Europe, and it has a long history with Europe.
    • EU sees India as a very important significant market and India sees the EU a source of finance and technology.
    • The EU’s concept of GDPR (Data regulatory Framework) is much more suitable for India as compared to Chinese and US models.
    • EU is a technological hub comparing to the US, India’s access to technology from the EU is relatively easier.
    • In a post-COVID-19 world, India and the EU can help each other in the diagnostic diseases and manufacturing vaccines.
  • Challenges: There are some areas of concerns as far as India-EU relationship is concerned:
  • EU is not happy with the conservatism policy of India in trade. The protectionist policy of India is one of the challenges.
  • EU has some concerns on the present human rights situation in India and Indian labour-environmental standards.

Way Forward

  • In a multi polar world, the EU is one of the most important roles, and having good relations with such block is in the interest of any country.
  • EU can play an active role in the post-Covid world and India must seize this opportunity as quickly as possible.
  • India and EU are natural partners and share a very special relationship of mutual respect.
  • There are certain irritants as far as relationship is concerned but nothing is serious and needs to be discussed and sorted out.

European Union (EU)

  • It is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
  • The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardized system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one.
  • Nineteen of the countries use the euro as their official currency.
  • EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market; enact legislation in justice and home affairs; and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development.

Main Points made by the Guests

1. Elisabeth Braw, Senior Research Fellow, Royal United Services Institute:

  • It is India’s moment, china‘s reputation is degrading and the USA’s power is declining.
  • India-Eu is can play an active role in post COVID world.

2.  Mohan Kumar, Former Ambassador 

  • India and the European Union (EU) have decided to launch a dialogue on maritime security.
  • European Atomic Energy Community or Euratom and Department of Atomic Energy, India signed this agreement which will boost cooperation on research and development for peaceful nuclear energy.
  • India and EU has common value common interest, strategic convergence and common grounds for work. Both share the value of democracy, rule of law, plurality, and humanitarian issues.

3.  Prof. Swaran Singh, Chairperson, Centre for International Politics, JNU

  • In a multipolar world, EU is one of the most important poles and having good relations with such block is in the interest of any country.
  • India must seize this opportunity as quick as possible.
  • EU is not happy with the conservatism policy of India in trade. The protectionist policy of India is one of the challenges.
  • EU has some concerns on present human rights situation in India and Indian labour-environmental standards.

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