India–European Union relations
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Bilateral relations between the European Union (EU) and the Republic of India date back to the 1960s, when India was one of the first countries to establish relations with what is now the European Union. The two signed bilateral agreements in 1973, when the United Kingdom joined. The most recent co-operation agreement was signed in 1994 and an action plan was signed in 2005. As of April 2007 the Commission is pursuing a free trade agreement with India.
The EU is India's largest trading partner, accounting for 20% of Indian trade. However India accounts for only 1.8% of the EU's trade and attracts only 0.3% of European Foreign Direct Investment, although still provides India's largest source of investment. During 2005 EU-India trade grew by 20.3%.
Trade between the two has more than doubled from €25.6 billion (US$36.7 billion) in 2000 to 55.6 billion euros in 2007, with further expansion to be seen. "We have agreed to achieve an annual bilateral trade turnover of €100 billion within the next five years," Singh told reporters. A joint statement issued at the end of the summit said the EU and India would work to reach an agreement on climate change by the end of 2009.
There was controversy in 2006 when the Indian Mittal Steel Company sought to take-over the Luxembourg based steel company, Arcelor. The approach met with opposition from France and Luxembourg but was passed by the Commission who stated that they were judging it on competition grounds only.
The EU and India agreed on September 29, 2008 at the EU-India summit in Marseille, France's largest commercial port, to expand their co-operation in the fields of nuclear energy and environmental protection and deepen their strategic partnership. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the EU's rotating president, said at a joint press conference at the summit that "EU welcomes India, as a large country, to engage in developing nuclear energy, adding that this clean energy will be helpful for the world to deal with the global climate change." Sarkozy also said the EU and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan pledged to accelerate talks on a free trade deal and expected to finish the deal by 2009. The Indian prime minister was also cautiously optimistic about co-operation on nuclear energy. "Tomorrow we have a bilateral summit with France. This matter will come up and I hope some good results will emerge out of that meeting," Singh said when asked about the issue. Singh said that he was "very satisfied" with the results of the summit. He added that EU and India have "common values" and the two economies are complementary to each other.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, also speaking at Monday's press conference, expounded the joint action plan on adjustments of EU's strategic partnership with India, saying the two sides will strengthen co-operation on world peace and safety, sustainable development, co-operation in science and technology and cultural exchanges.
Reviewing the two sides' efforts in developing the bilateral strategic partnership, the joint action plan reckoned that in politics, dialogue and co-operation have enhanced through regular summits and exchanges of visits and that in economy, mutual investments have increased dramatically in recent years, dialogue in macro economic policies and financial services has established and co-operation in energy, science and technology and environment has been launched. Under the joint action plan, EU and Indian would enhance consultation and dialogue on human rights within the UN framework, strengthen co-operation in world peacekeeping mission, fight against terror and non-proliferation of arms, promote co-operation and exchange in developing civil nuclear energy and strike a free trade deal as soon as possible. France, which relies heavily on nuclear power and is a major exporter of nuclear technology, is expected to sign a deal that would allow it to provide nuclear fuel to India.
India has also contributed towards the EU's satellite navigation system.
12th EU-India Summit
On the eve of the Summit President Van Rompuy stated: "The 12th EU-India summit will confirm that EU and India are strengthening and rebalancing their partnership in its political dimension, thus bringing our relationship to new heights. It will demonstrate that increased co-operation between India and the EU can make a difference for the security and the prosperity of our continents." Although there were some apprehensions regarding the EU-enforced carbon tax on all fliers landing or passing through European skies that was opposed by many other countries, including India, China, the US and Russia, the European Union and India held their twelfth annual summit in New Delhi on February 10, 2012. Various EU representatives were present such as President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. The EU Trade commissioner, Karel De Gucht also attended the summit. The Republic of India was represented by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna, Trade Minister A. Sharma and National Security Adviser, S.S. Menon.
The summit agenda covered bilateral, regional and global issues.
The Leaders emphasised the importance of the EU-India Strategic Partnership. They endeavoured to reinforce co-operation in security, in particular counter-terrorism, cyber-security and counter-piracy, as well as trade, energy, research and innovation.
- EU sees talks with ASEAN, India, SKorea on free-trade pacts in months eubusiness.com
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- PDF, Factsheet: EU-INDIA SUMMIT, 10 February 2012 - New Delhi, contains current status of EU relations with India summarised on two pages
- Comment: EU-India relations: from blind spot to strategic engagement, EU Observer