The situation is starting to change between the EU and India, but the relationship between the two was not previously being taken seriously by either side, writes Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform (CER).
Grant’s June/July 2008 paper calls on the EU to “pay more attention to its still under-developed political relationship with India,” for it could play a major role in achieving the bloc’s primary objectives, such as climate change mitigation.
Indeed, the author says EU countries require Indian cooperation if they are to reach their goals in the priority area of climate change. Currently, India and the EU are engaging in talks on “a broad-based trade and investment agreement,” reports the author, expected to be concluded next year.
The bloc expects India to reduce tariffs and let its companies invest “more freely” in telecoms, insurance and legal services for example, while India hopes the EU will grant its citizens access to the European labour market, says the paper. Next September an India-EU summit will be held in Toulouse to launch a “strategic partnership”, suggests the paper.
These dialogues will tackle themes that are of great significance for both India and the Union, such as climate change, post-conflict reconstruction, Africa and counter-terrorism.
Outlining European and Indian perceptions of one another, Grant claims Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief, does not consider India to be a priority, while Indians “dislike having to deal with the EU’s institutions and member states at the same time”.
The author concludes that the EU’s external representation is at the heart of the problem. He quotes a Delhi official who said “if you want us to take the EU seriously, please appoint a president we have heard of”.