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A road map for India-EU ties

GS paper 2

Syllabus: Bilateral, regional and global grouping and agreements, India-EU relations etc


Source: The Hindu

Direction: If you don’t have India- EU notes ready, can take a few points from the article.

Context: While India celebrates its 75th year of Independence, it also celebrates 60 years of diplomatic relations with the European Union (EU).

Significant milestone in India-EU relations:

  • 1960s: India was one of the first to establish relations with the European economic community.
  • Cooperation agreement (1994): It defined the relationship between India and the EU.
  • First India-EU Summit (2000): It marked a watershed in the evolution of the relationship.
  • 2004: Strategic partnership
  • Joint Action Plan (2005): to enhance trade and investment and bring peoples and cultures together.
  • 15th India-EU Summit (2020): It highlighted engagement across these areas:
    • Foreign policy and security cooperation
    • Trade and economy
    • Sustainable modernisation partnership
    • Global governance
    • People-to-people relations.

Areas of cooperation:

  • Bilateral trade: Bilateral trade between the two surpassed $116 billion in 2021-22.
    • The EU is India’s second-largest trading partner after the U.S
  • Avenues of collaboration:
    • For example, the ‘green strategic partnership’ between India and Denmark aims to address climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution
    • India-Nordic Summit focused on green technologies
  • Defence Cooperation:
    • India and the EU regularly conduct joint military and naval exercises which reflects their commitment to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.
    • France’s on-time delivery of 36 Rafale fighter jets and willingness to offer Barracuda nuclear attack submarines to the Indian Navy
    • Leading European defence equipment manufacturers are willing to partner with Indian companies aligned with the ‘Make in India’ programme.
  • Free-Trade Agreement: India and the EU had launched talks for Free Trade Agreement (FTA), officially called broad-based BTIA, in 2007.
  • Start-up and innovation ecosystem:
    • Science and Technology Joint Steering Committee between the two focuses on areas such as healthcare, Artificial Intelligence, and earth sciences.
    • In 2020, there was an agreement for research and development cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy between the European Atomic Energy Community and the Government of India.


Challenges: Both have differing opinions and divergent interests in some areas.

  • Russian intervention in Ukraine: India’s reluctance to explicitly condemn Russia’s intervention in Ukraine
  • Double standard on gas imports from Russia: India has called out the EU’s double standards on the same, for the EU purchases 45% of its gas imports from Russia in 2021.
  • Rise of China: There is also ambiguity on the EU’s strategy in tackling the rise of China.
    • Its muted response during the Galwan clash is a case in point.
  • Hesitancy: India’s economic, political and demographic weight could be deftly leveraged by the EU to counterbalance China’s influence across the region. But there seems to be some hesitancy about this.



  • Divergence and convergence: India and the EU should not let divergences of views overwhelm the many areas of convergence among them.
  • India-EU free trade: The proactive resumption of the ambitious India-EU free trade and investment agreement in 2021 is a step in the right direction.
  • Indo-Pacific partnership: European partners acknowledge India as an important pillar in ensuring stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
    • The EU wants to be more than just a trading bloc and is seeking alliances with like-minded countries like India.
  • Political and economic poles: Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar rightly said, “ India and the EU are each political and economic poles in an increasingly multi-polar world.
    • The ability to work together, therefore, can shape global outcomes.”


Insta Links:

India-EU relations


Practice Questions:

Q. Indian diaspora has a decisive role to play in the politics and economy of America and European Countries”. Comment with examples.(UPSC 2020)

    1. With reference to IN-EUNAVFOR, consider the following statements:
    2. It is the first naval exercise between India and the EU.
    3. It was conducted in the Bay of Bengal.

Which of the statements given above is/are not correct?

a. 1 only

b. 2 only

c. Both 1 and 2

d. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (b)


  • The maiden Indian Navy – European Union Naval Force (IN-EUNAVFOR) Exercise was conducted in the Gulf Of Aden.
  • Along with the Indian Navy, other naval forces are from Italy, Spain and France.