India-EU: Enhancing Strategic Partnerships



RATIONALE

The India-EU Agenda for Action 2020 which was endorsed by Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council and Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission at the 13thIndia-EU Summit in March 2016 delineates the areas of cooperation between India and the European Union.

The recently concluded 14th India-EU Summit builds on the outcomes of the previous summit and provides further momentum to the strategic partnerships that the two sides have agreed to consider taking forward.

Under the aegis of the Symbiosis International University (SIU), the Symbiosis School of International Studies (SSIS) will be organizing its fifth International Relations Conference (IRC) on 2-3 December, 2017 titled "India-EU: Enhancing Strategic Partnerships", in Pune.

The conference will bring together ministers, diplomats, corporate leaders, academics, members of civil society organizations, NGOs and media professionals from India and the EU, to deliberate on the myriad aspects of India's foreign policy which includes issues related to trade and investments, security cooperation, clean and renewable energy, education and cultural cooperation, amongst others, vis-à-vis the EU.

Deliberations at this conference will be oriented around the four following sessions:

1. Partnerships for Security

At the 21st IISS Fullerton Lecture in Singapore in 2015, Foreign Secretary, Dr. S. Jaishankar, stated that ‘India welcomes the growing reality of a multi-polar world, as it does, of a multi-polar Asia. We, therefore, want to build our bilateral relationships with all major players, confident that progress in one account opens up possibilities in others.’ This statement reflects the BJP-led government’s commitment to widen India’s diplomatic footprint on the global stage and engage with a wide range of issues which includes security cooperation.

Although India’s strategic security partnership with the EU dates back to 2004, it was only after the India-EU Summit in March 2016 that the partnership has shown signs of moving forward. Other than mutually agreeing on issues like nuclear non-proliferation, counter-terrorism and maritime security, both, India and the EU shares concerns over countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and regions like West Asia. In this regard, the topics that would be elaborated under this session are:

1.1. Maritime security

The opportunities for cooperation vis-à-vis maritime security between the EU and India are manifold, especially in the Indian Ocean region. Piracy, human and drug trafficking and maritime terrorism are some of the non-conventional security challenges that both sides are grappling with in the Indian Ocean region. Between 2008 and 2012, scores of cargo vessels carrying chemicals, oil and military equipment were attacked by Somalian pirates off the Horn of Africa. This strategic area which includes the Gulf of Aden, the Western Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea makes for an important commercial route for over 20,000 cargo vessels every year.

About 30 percent of European and $110 billion worth of Indian trade transits annually through the Gulf of Aden. Moreover, the Gulf region remains a vital source of oil and gas imports for India and the EU. It is therefore very important for both sides to maintain and secure these crucial Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs). The European Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR), which was launched in 2008, has been successful in curbing the growing menace of piracy in the region. EUCAP Somalia and EU CRIMARIO are the other EU led and financed security initiatives in the Indian Ocean region.

India’s growing strategic geo-political role, both regionally and globally, finds resonance in its revised 2015 Maritime Doctrine-Ensuring Secure Seas: Indian Maritime Security Strategy. India sees itself as a “net security provider” in the region. In this regard, the strategy addresses the evolving security dynamics in the Indian Ocean region and clearly delineates the role of the Indian Navy. The Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman and their littoral regions, South West Indian Ocean including IOR nations therein and East Coast of Africa littoral regions are now of primary interest for India’s maritime security.

Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and Search and Rescue (SAR) are other areas for more active cooperation between India and the EU. Disaster preparedness, particularly with regard to advanced early warning systems for tsunamis and cyclones and infrastructure that is created for disaster-prone zones, is an area for enhanced partnership between the two sides.

Synergies between the EU-led “Blue Growth Strategy” and the Indian “Blue Revolution” initiative could be pursued to curb illegal fishing and promote coastal economies based on principles of sustainable development.

The apparent synergies between the two actors could be brought together through various multilateral fora like the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a multilateral forum that was established in 2012 at the initiative of the Indian Navy, and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), among others.

1.2. Counter-terrorism and cyber-security

India and the EU have both been subject to violent terrorist attacks. The joint declaration that resulted from the 2016 India-EU Summit clearly delineates potential areas of cooperation between the two sides with regard to countering terrorism. While the two sides already cooperate on issues like terror-financing and designating terror groups, there are areas that they could work together on. In the recent past, the EU, particularly countries like France, Belgium and Germany, have had to grapple with the challenge of Islamic militancy and the rise of radicalization. Albeit limited at present, there are valid concerns about growing radicalization in India as well.

The statement issued from the recently concluded India-EU Dialogue on Counter-Terrorism in New Delhi reiterated the benefits for both sides from information- and intelligence-sharing as well as cooperation to counter the menace of on-line recruitment of youth by terrorist organizations. Devising new methods and technologies would bolster the larger effort of ensuring cyber-security.

Both India and the EU lend support to UN-led initiatives and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

1.3. Energy security

In 2004, the India-EU Energy Panel was established to address challenges that both the sides face with regard to energy security. The panel has been mandated to promote cooperation between the two sides to ensure the security of petrochemical supplies and to maintain the stability of oil prices. West Asia, particularly Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar, remains the major supplier of oil and gas for both India and the EU. In this regard, political stability in the region is crucial for both sides. Apart from strengthening cooperation to promote the development of connectivity- infrastructure and the security of sea lines of communication, India and the EU could also explore possibilities to jointly develop mechanisms for dialogue and confidence-building measures among the principal regional players to promote security and stability in the West Asian region.

1.4. Non proliferation

The European response to India’s nuclear tests in 1998 was not homogenous. While countries like Germany, Denmark and Sweden suspended development assistance programmes, others like France and Spain abstained from taking any concrete measures against India. The EU had, then, urged both India and Pakistan to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In 2003 the EU had stated that weapons of mass destruction are ‘potentially the greatest threat to our security’ and had called for the management of issues related to nuclear proliferation within its multilateral security governance framework.

In the context of the rising threat of weapons of mass destruction and its linkages with global terrorism, India and the EU would need to work together to address proliferation challenges while ensuring seamless international cooperation vis-à-vis issues related to materials, technology and equipment for peaceful purposes. India has subscribed to the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC) and has demonstrated deep engagement with the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

Against the backdrop of changing global and regional, particularly South Asian, geopolitics and India’s growing importance on the world stage, cooperation with regard to proliferation-related issues becomes all the more significant.

2. Expanding Trade and Economic Ties

The European Union is India’s largest regional trade and investment partner. In 2016, bilateral trade in goods between the two sides stood at $ 88 billion. In the period 2000-2017, India has received approximately USD 83 billion as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from the EU, which constituted 24 percent of total FDI inflows to the country. Since 2007, India and the EU have been negotiating the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) which includes issues related to trade in goods and services, sanitary & phyto-sanitary measures, intellectual property rights, technical barriers to trade, dispute settlement, customs and trade facilitation and procurement among others. While both sides have demonstrated the will to strengthen bilateral trade and investment ties, they have diverging views and interests with regard to the BTIA.

Given the changing global scenario, resuming the BTIA would be beneficial for both sides. The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which was considered to be one of the major trade partnerships between the EU and the USA and a companion agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was stalled after President Trump assumed office in November 2016. India on its part is pursuing Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations (RCEP), involving sixteen countries with diverse expectations and interests.

Against the backdrop of these developments, the resolution of the BTIA could prove to be advantageous for both sides. For India, the EU ranks first amongst its trading partners. European banks and insurance agencies are well established in India; there are also a number of joint ventures in the defense sector as well burgeoning partnerships in the automotive sector. The EU, on the other hand, would have a lot to benefit from the opportunities that India’s large market offers.

3. Partnering for Clean Energy and Climate Change Mitigation

At the 13th India-EU Summit, both sides adopted a joint declaration on clean energy and climate partnership which outlines their commitment to dialogue and cooperation on clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate action.

According to the International Energy Agency, India is already the single largest contributor – about 25percent – to growth in energy demand globally and steep rises in power production and consumption are expected to accompany India's economic growth.

Both India and the EU have ambitious plans for their energy transition as a means to combat climate change. A policy-level dialogue on energy between the two sides, which was put in place a few years ago, explores opportunities to cooperate in the areas of energy efficiency, development of renewable energy resources including solar, offshore and wind energy research and innovation. In fact, India and the EU have committed to collaborate to further the objectives of the International Solar Alliance.

In 2016, India and the EU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Water Partnership for clean-up operations of Indian rivers. Under this MoU, the EU will extend technical support to India for river protection and water management. At the14th India-EU Summit held in October 2017, both sides have committed to pursue constructive collaboration on the implementation of India’s national climate plan

Europe has dramatically cut down its energy consumption and is moving towards a new energy regime with decreased dependence on hydrocarbons. Energy technology is an important issue in bilateral relations between India and the EU. India is very keen to access European technology to promote clean energy in the country.

Despite the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, India, and the EU have reconfirmed their commitments under the accord and have agreed to step up cooperation to enhance its implementation and meet its ambitious goals.

At the recently concluded Summit, both sides have endorsed cooperation to combat climate change mitigation. This cooperation is further strengthened by the robust involvement of the European Investment Bank in India in a wide range of key sectors, particularly climate action and renewable energy.

4. Cooperation in Higher Education and Skills Development

Enhanced cooperation in higher education, including India’s Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) programme and EU’s Erasmus+ programme, is an important part of the India-EU Agenda 2020. There is strong will on both sides to strengthen cooperation and increase student and faculty exchanges between the two sides.

Delhi and Brussels are already cooperating in several areas, including vocational and educational training, lifelong learning, transparency, quality and equity in education, recognition of qualifications, and modernization of higher education, academic excellence, and faculty and student mobility.

The Erasmus+ programme, which was launched in 2014, has recently celebrated its 5000th Indian alumni and has extended financing opportunities to many Indian universities through joint-Masters’ programmes, short-term mobility, Jean Monnet initiatives for EU studies and capacity-building projects. India ranks first on Erasmus mobility in the world since its inception in 1987.

With the Trump administration’s call for strict visa regulations, the demand from Indian students for educational opportunities in higher education within the EU could witness an upswing.

Cooperation between India and the EU with regard to skills development could also be further strengthened. There is a need to find complementarities and synergies between India's Skill India initiative and the EU's New Skills Agenda for Europe; this cooperation could prove to be mutually beneficial.


The International Relations Conference- India-EU: Enhancing Strategic Partnerships comes in close on the heels of the 14th India-EU Summit which was held in New Delhi on 6th October 2017. The outcomes of the Summit have been informed this concept paper. The IRC 2017 could serve as a platform to further deliberate on the issues delineated in the summit declarations and outcome documents.