EU – India Relations and the Emerging World Order: Strengthening Ties for Common Interest

EU – India Relations and the Emerging World Order: Strengthening Ties for Common Interest

On October 9th the Europe India Chamber of Commerce (EICC) and the European Policy Centre (EPC) jointly conducted a high-level conference – EU – India Relations and the Emerging World Order: Strengthening Ties for Common Interest – at the EPC Brussels auditorium.

Pankaj Saran

Pankaj Saran is a former Deputy National Security Adviser of India and now covener of Natstrat India, an independent, not-for-profit centre for research on strategic and security issues.

He highlighted the fact that India, the world’s 5th largest economy, is currently going through a period of change: he foresees his country as a partner in developing Africa economically and politically.

He also pointed out that tensions between India and China have had the effect of pushing India towards the west, adding that the EU is now emerging as a major partner to India, and as such asked for EU commitment in the Indo-Pacific region “not just in words, but also in deeds.”

Christophe Kiener, EU Chief Negotiator for the Free Trade Agreement with India – the negotiations were launched in June 2022 – suggested that no concrete progress is likely until after the next Indian general election, expected to be held between April and May of next year.

Christophe Kiener

He admitted the need for more investment in bilateral relations for both EU and India.

He also pointed out that despite being third largest trading partner of India, accounting for €88 billion worth of trade in goods in 2021, the EU accounts for just 2% of exports to India.

He also emphasised that EU policy requires all 27 member states to be in agreement in order for the FTA between India and EU to be finalised, and that the EU seeks a more comprehensive agreement than those recently reached between India and Australia, and also with the United Arab Emirates.

Amaia Sanchez-Caciedo

Associate Analyst in charge of the South Asia portfolio at European Union Institute of Security Studies (EUISS), Amaia Sanchez-Caciedo urged the EU to co-operate with India as it is not only a counterbalance to China but also is an important player in the changing world order.

She added that India is a trusted synergy partner in the Indian Ocean Region. She underscored India’s achievements being member of QUAD, SCO, BRICS and urged EU to capitalise on this aspect not just bilaterally but also geopolitically.

German Marshall Fund (GMF) Senior Fellow, Garima Mohan focused on three key areas: Trade and Technology Council, Connectivity Partnership and NATO partnership.

Garima Mohan

She also appreciated India’s diversifying partnership and issue based multi-coalitions.

She acknowledged that the political will on both sides exists to carry on the partnership to take it to the next level. She also stated that success or failure of FTA negotiations should not have a bearing on EU-India strategic partnerships.

Unlike most critics, she does not feel that China is the driving factor behind the proximity of EU and India.

Dominic Boucsein

Head of International Trade and Foreign Policy at Eurochambres, Dominic Boucsein, stated that India and EU should both look to boost to investor confidence.

He highlighted that the success of G20 summit in India indicates that India is fast becoming an emerging power in global geopolitics.

He further stated that China is a factor in the EU-India strategic partnership as the EU emphasises de-risking initiatives with China, but concluded that in bilateral context or in FTA negotiations, China did not matter.

H.E. Santosh Jha

H.E. Santosh Jha, Ambassador of India to Belgium, EU and Luxembourg, in his address stressed on the aspects of Security and Defence and urged for more co-operation and collaboration with NATO.

The Ambassador also stressed the need for dialogue in areas of mutual interest such as cyber security, counter terrorism, maritime security and disarmament.

He also referred to connectivity partnership, global gateway program and green hydrogen deal.

He also touched upon the topic of ambitious India-Middle East-Europe Corridor (IMEC). which would be mutually beneficial to Europe, India and the whole region.

Dr. Ravi K. Mehrotra

Chairman of Europe India Chamber of Commerce (EICC), Dr. Ravi K. Mehrotra, in his address likened IMEC to BRI saying that IMEC may succeed whereas BRI has failed and urged EU to grab the opportunity to collaborate with India as it is the fastest growing economy that could become 3rd largest economy very soon.

Also present were:

Associate Director and Head of the Europe in the World Programme at the European Policy Centre, Ricardo Borges De Castro.

Researcher in the Foreign Policy Unit at Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Fanny Sanvignon.

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