EU-India Strategic Partnership
The Communication identifies the issues, opportunities and expectations in the field of international, economic and development policies between the EU and India. It suggests areas for future strategic cooperation and a streamlining of the institutional architecture.
Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee of 16 June 2004: An EU-India Strategic Partnership [COM(2004) 430) final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The EU and India already enjoy a close relationship based on shared values and mutual respect. In recent years, the relationship has developed exponentially in terms of shared vision, goals and challenges. Against this background the Commission proposes a new strategy based on the following objectives:
- international cooperation through multilateralism, including promoting peace, combating terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and human rights;
- enhanced commercial and economic interaction, in particular through sectoral dialogue and dialogue on regulatory and industrial policy;
- cooperation on sustainable development, protecting the environment, mitigating climate change and combating poverty;
- continuous improvement of mutual understanding and contacts between the EU's and India's civil society.
Since the EU and India are seen as forces for global stability, the focus of relations has shifted from trade to wider political issues. The Commission proposes a strategic alliance to enhance relations with India and promote an effective multilateral approach.
India is an important partner in conflict prevention. The EU should therefore explore means of formalising regular cooperation with India in this area. The Commission wishes to step up political dialogue on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and proposes setting up dialogue on export control measures.
Real cooperation should be established on combating terrorism and organised crime.
The EU is strongly committed to peace and stability in South Asia and encourages dialogue between India and Pakistan.
The EU is India's largest trading partner and main source of foreign inward investment, whereas India is only the EU's 14th trading partner. India needs to further open up its market and accelerate market reform to realise the potential of its market. It must address such matters as customs tariffs and the many non-tariff trade barriers, as well as considerably improving its infrastructure.
The strategic dialogue should address regulatory and industrial policy to improve business competitiveness on both sides. India and the EU should also promote cooperation on the world's major environmental challenges such as biodiversity, climate change and the depletion of the ozone layer.
In many areas, dialogue with India has already made considerable progress. Strategic sectoral dialogues should be developed in the following areas:
- the information society;
- the Galileo programme (the European global satellite navigation system);
- a space partnership.
The EU and India must start dialogue on investment, intellectual property rights and trade defence instruments. The EU has an interest in enhancing cooperation with India on technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary issues. The EU-India customs cooperation agreement should also be exploited and sustainable development and South Asian regional cooperation should be promoted.
There is enormous potential for EU-India collaboration in science and technology. Indian researchers should be encouraged to participate in the EU's 6th Framework Programme.
The EU should invite India to regularly attend ministerial level consultations on subjects of mutual interest in the field of monetary and financial policy.
The EU must help India to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Coordination with other EU donors needs to be improved. The EU could also share its experience of social security systems.
The European and Indian Parliaments are considering organising regular, institutionalised parliamentary exchanges. In terms of culture, cooperation in all disciplines should be reinforced. All Member States and institutions should cooperate and coordinate their activities to inform Indian public opinion. The Government of India should be encouraged to visit EU institutions as often as possible and devise its own communications strategy.
EU-Indian partnership is based on the 1994 Cooperation Agreement and the Joint Political Declaration of 1993. The first Lisbon summit of 2000 was also key to the development of bilateral relations. The Commission proposes a number of initiatives to streamline the structure of the partnership.
Implementation and follow-up
The Commission hopes that this Communication will be a starting point for collective reflection on how to improve EU-India relations. The proposals emerging from such reflection could serve as the basis for an action plan and a new EU-Indian joint political declaration. Both could be endorsed at the Sixth EU-India Summit in 2005.
India is an increasingly important international player and regional power with an impressive economic growth rate. Since the first EU-India summit held in Lisbon in 2000, EU relations with India have progressed in political, geopolitical, economic and trade terms.
For more information about relations between the EC and India, see the website of the Directorate-General for External Relations.