Political Dialogue between India and EU
India has traditionally had a multi-dimensional relationship with the EU, which is our largest trading partner, with annual bilateral trade exceeding Euro 60 billion. The EU is one of the biggest sources of Foreign Direct Investment, important source of technology and home to a large and influential Indian diaspora. India was one of the first Asian nations to accord recognition to the European Community in 1962. Since then, the EU has grown from a common market to a common currency, and from a Community to a Union, with increasing political and economic weight in the world. It was natural, therefore, that the growth of bilateral relations between India and the Members of the EU also evolved into an institutionalised dialogue with the EU itself. Our multi-faceted relationship with the European Union has deepened and matured in the past few years. As an important pillar in the multipolar world, an enlarged EU with a common market of 550 million people, and a GDP greater than that of USA, will become an important interlocutor for India for addressing both bilateral and international challenges. The institutionalisation of Summit-level interaction with this powerful grouping is, therefore, of great importance to India.
The Annual Summits have been an important and effective forum to discuss all issues arising out of our multi-dimension relationship with the EU. These have been held alternately in the country holding the Presidency of the EU and New Delhi since 2000. However, since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, future India-EU Summits will be alternately held in Brussels and India.
First India-EU Summit
The first India-EU Summit, held in Lisbon on June 28, 2000, resolved that India and EU would build a new strategic partnership in the political and economic areas and also specified an Agenda for Action to realise this objective. “The India-EU Partnership in the 21st Century” recognised the need to build a coalition of interests in order to meet the challenges of the 21st Century, and emphasised the importance of this partnership in the shaping of the emerging multi-polar world.
Second India-EU Summit
The Second India EU Summit, held in New Delhi on November 23, 2001, reinforced the strategic depth of Indo-EU relations through the adoption of a Joint Communiqué, a Declaration against Terrorism, IT Vision Statement and the signing of agreements on S&T and the universalisation of elementary education under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The conclusion of a Declaration against Terrorism with the EU was extremely significant and important. It emphasises the responsibility of all States to refrain from providing moral, material and/or diplomatic support to acts of terrorism, and to prevent the use of their territory for sponsoring terrorist acts against other States. The Declaration states, “There can be no religious, ethnic, ideological or any other justification of terrorism”. It supports the fight against terrorism, wherever it occurs and regardless of its motives.
Third India-EU Summit
The Third India-EU Summit was held in Copenhagen on October 10, 2002. The Joint Statement issued at the conclusion of the meeting expressed satisfaction with the positive results of the Summit and its contribution to the consolidation of the comprehensive relationship between India and the EU, and reiterated the determination of the two sides to expand and deepen their cooperation in all areas. The statement reaffirmed the commitment of India and the EU to the shared values of democracy, pluralism and multilateralism. India and the EU also reiterated their determination to continue to combat terrorism, and expressed support to the new Transitional Authority in Afghanistan. There was a renewed commitment to intensify the high-level economic dialogue and to strengthen the multilateral trade regime of WTO.
Fourth India-EU Summit
November 29, 2003 witnessed the convening of the Fourth India-EU Summit in New Delhi. The two sides renewed their commitment to democracy, pluralism, the protection and promotion of human rights and the strengthening of multilateral institutions, as embodied by the UN in particular. They also reiterated their determination to fight terrorism in all its manifestations, and called upon all nations to fulfil their commitments under UNSC Resolution 1373. Measures to further enhance trade and investment flows between the two sides were discussed, and their commitment to further strengthen the multilateral trading regime under the WTO was underlined. Among the concrete achievements of the Summit were: the signing of a Customs Cooperation Agreement; a Financing Agreement for the India-EU trade and Investment Programme (TIPP);
the decision to commence negotiations on a Maritime Agreement; and, an Agreement to formalise India’s equitable participation in the Galileo Joint Undertaking.
5th India-EU Summit
The 5th Summit between the EU and India was held in The Hague, The Netherlands, on November 8, 2004. The Summit highlighted the considerable progress made in strengthening the EU-India relationship since the first Summit in 2000. India and EU agreed to take forward the implementation of key actions in the following areas:
- to jointly elaborate a comprehensive EU-India Action Plan for a strategic Partnership and a new Joint Political Declaration;
- to encourage the holding of regular, institutionalised parliamentary exchanges between the Indian Parliament and the European Parliament;
- to install a dialogue on disarmament and non-proliferation;
- to consider regular exchange of views on possibilities for cooperation on themes like resolution of conflicts, peace operations and reconstruction;
- to strengthen the flow of students and scholars between the EU and India through the funding of an India-specific scholarship programme under Erasmus Mundus;
- to set up an Energy panel to coordinate joint efforts;
- to organise joint workshops on automotive engineering, genomics and life sciences, and nanotechnology;
- to organise an EU-India environment forum to exchange views and information on issues of mutual interest, knowhow, technologies and on research and analyses of specific themes.
6th India-EU Summit
The 6th Summit held in New Delhi on September 7, 2005 endorsed a comprehensive Joint Action Plan setting out a road map for India-EU interactions in diverse sectors. The Summit focused on concrete steps to put meat to the bone of the Strategic Partnership. Besides approving the ambitious Joint Action Plan, the Summit also issued an updated Political Declaration on India-EU Strategic Partnership. The two sides decided to set up a High Level Trade Group (HLTG), headed by Commerce Secretary in India and DG Trade in the European Commission to look at a range of economic issues to further enhance bilateral ties. It was also decided to substantially increase EU involvement and funding in social sectors, particularly National Rural Health Programme and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The Framework Agreement to formalise India’s participation in the Galileo satellite navigation project was signed on the margins of the Summit. India reiterated its desire to participate in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) Project for generating energy from nuclear fusion.
7th India-EU Summit
The 7th India-EU Summit was held in Helsinki on October 13, 2006. The areas of primary focus included India-EU relationship, cooperation in counter-terrorism, and energy. A Joint Statement and the Joint Action Plan Implementation Report were issued at the Summit. The highlight of the 7th Summit was the acceptance, by the leadership of both sides, of the recommendations of the HLTG to launch negotiations on a broad-based trade and investment agreement with the maximum coverage possible, and to work towards conclusion of this agreement.
8th India-EU Summit
The 8th Summit meeting was held in New Delhi on November 30, 2007. A Joint Statement and a JAP Implementation Report were issued. At the Summit, both sides expressed their determination to further strengthen the Strategic Partnership and to cooperate at a global level for the cause of peace, security and sustainable development for all. The two sides also took note of the work of the High Level Trade Group since the last Summit, when it was decided to work towards concluding a broad-based trade and investment agreement. At the Summit, the importance of EU-India cooperation in S&T was also highlighted.
9th India-EU Summit
The 9th India-EU Summit was held in Marseilles on September 29, 2008. The leaders discussed regional and global issues and the strengthening of India-EU relations. India and the EU recognised the importance of the early conclusion of the broad-based trade and investment agreement, the need to fulfil the expectations of businesses on both sides, and to further strengthen the bilateral economic relationship. Towards this end, India and the EU expressed their commitment to achieve a balanced and ambitious outcome. While welcoming the signing of a horizontal civil aviation agreement, they encouraged the conclusion of a mutually beneficial maritime transport agreement. They also noted that joint cooperation within the framework of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) Agreement remains a priority, which will be further enhanced through the conclusion of a bilateral agreement between Euratom and India in the field of fusion energy research, for which negotiations are being finalised. India and the EU also announced their intention to promote dialogue and cooperation in education and culture. The summit approved the following:
- a revised Joint Action Plan extending the strategic partnership of 2005 to new areas;
- a joint work programme on energy, clean development and climate change;
- horizontal civil aviation agreement;
- the launch of a European Business and Technology Centre in India, to support business-to-business and research cooperation between the EU and India.
10th India-EU Summit
The 10th India-EU Summit was held in New Delhi on November 6, 2009. India was represented by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the EU by Mr. Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. The Summit reviewed India-EU relations and exchanged views on developments in India and EU; recognised the need to pursue the reform of the main UN bodies with a view to enhancing the representativeness, transparency and effectiveness of the system; resolved to jointly fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations; took note of the signing of the India-EU agreement in the field of nuclear fusion energy research, underlining the importance of energy security and clean energy; agreed to work towards early conclusion of the broad-based trade and investment agreement and the Maritime Transport Agreement. The leaders also identified trade and investment, energy, counter-terrorism, science and technology, climate change, and the movement of peoples as priority areas of cooperation.
11th India-EU Summit
The 11th India-EU Summit was held in Brussels on December 10, 2010. This was the first Summit after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. India was represented by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the EU by Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. From the EU side, this was the first time that the President of European Council participated in the meeting, and not the head of the state or government of the rotating Presidency of the EU, reflecting the changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty.
The Summit reviewed India-EU relations; stressed the importance of an ambitious and balanced conclusion of the India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) in the spring of 2011; welcomed the increasing cooperation in the field of security and defence; and issued a Joint Declaration on International Terrorism. An India-EU Joint Declaration on Culture was also signed during the Summit. In the Joint Statement issued by the leaders, it was agreed to present the results of the 2008 Joint Work Programme on Energy, Clean Development and Climate Change at the next India-EU summit in 2011. The Joint Statement also called for an early conclusion of the India-EU Agreement for Research and Development Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy; a swift finalisation of the agreement on satellite navigation initialled in 2005; and an early implementation of the civil aviation agreement.
The Summit also witnessed exchange of views on regional and global issues covering Afghanistan, Pakistan, G-20, climate change and disarmament. An India-EU Business Summit was held on the sidelines of the Summit, and was attended by Commerce and Industry Minister Mr. Anand Sharma and Mr. Karel De Gucht, EU’s Trade Commissioner.
The European Parliament in its plenary session in September 2009 approved the establishment of an India Delegation in the European Parliament, and formally constituted it on September 30, 2009. There are 20 members and 20 substitutes in the delegation. Mr. Graham Watson, British Member of the European Parliament, was elected the Chairperson.
India-EU Ministerial and Senior Officials Meeting
The 21st India-EU Ministerial meeting took place in New Delhi on June 22, 2010. External Affairs Minister Shri SM Krishna led the Indian delegation. For the first time, the EU side was led by its High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ms. Catherine Ashton. She was accompanied by Mr. Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter Terrorism Coordinator, and Lt. Gen. Ton Van Osch, Director General of EU Military Staff. India-EU relations, regional issues and global issues including climate change, terrorism, global financial crisis, non-proliferation and energy security were discussed at the Ministerial Meeting.
There is a regular mechanism of Senior Officials Meetings (SOM) between India and the EU. The last meeting was held on October 21, 2010 in Brussels.
India and EU have instituted Foreign Policy Consultations at the level of Secretaries. The first meeting took place in New Delhi on November 15, 2011.