The list of bilateral agreements signed between India-EU are as follows:

    • Over the years, India and the EU have signed a number of bilateral agreements and MoUs. The notable ones are as follows:
      • Science & Technology Agreement (2001, renewed in 2007)
      • Joint Vision Statement for promoting Cooperation in the field of Information and Communications Technology (2001)
      • Customs Cooperation Agreement (2004)
      • Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Employment and Social Affairs (2006)
      • Horizontal Civil Aviation Agreement (2008)
      • Joint Declaration in the field of Education & Training (2008)
      • Joint Declaration on Multilingualism (2009)
      • Agreement in the field of Nuclear Fusion Energy Research (2009)
      • Joint Declaration on Culture (2010)
      • MoU on Statistics (2012)
      • Joint Declaration on Research and Innovation Cooperation (2012) and
      • Joint Declaration on Enhanced Cooperation in Energy (2012)

Areas and Instruments of Cooperation

1. Trade

    • Relevant Facts
      • The EU is India’s third largest trading partner, accounting for €62.8 billion worth of trade in goods in 2020 or 1% of total Indian trade, after China (12%) and the US (11.7%)
      • The EU is the second-largest destination for Indian exports (14% of the total) after the USA.
      • India is the EU’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for 1.8% of EU total trade in goods in 2020, well behind China (16.1%), the USA (15.2%), and the UK (12.2%).
      • The largest sectors of India’s Exports to the EU are engineering goods, pharmaceuticals, gems and jewellery, other manufactured goods and chemicals
      • Additionally, over 6,000 European Union companies are said to operate in India, providing direct and indirect employment to over six million people
    • Free Trade
      • Since the 1970s, India has been a beneficiary of preferential tariffs for its exports under the EU’s Generalised system of preferences(GSP), which reduces import duties for almost 66 percent of product tariff lines with an aim to support various industrial sectors in the developing countries
Did you know?
    • EU’s GSP removes import duties from products coming into the EU market from vulnerable developing countries.
    • This helps developing countries to alleviate poverty and create jobs based on international values and principles, including labour and human rights
      • With the establishment of an Investment facilitation mechanism for EU investments in India in 2017, there is a renewed focus on facilitating ease of doing business norms for EU investors in India.
        • This mechanism allows for close coordination between the Indian government and the EU to formulate solutions to the issues and problems faced by EU investors in operating in India
      • Also, India and the EU have been working on a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) since 2007, but India’s trade regime and regulatory environment remains comparatively restrictive
Did you know
  • In 2007, India-EU began negotiations on a broad-based Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement(BTIA) in Brussels, Belgium
  • India and the EU expect to promote bilateral trade by removing barriers to trade in goods and services and investment across all sectors of the economy. Both parties believe that a comprehensive and ambitious agreement that is consistent with WTO rules and principles would open new markets and would expand opportunities for Indian and EU businesses
  • The negotiations cover Trade in Goods, Trade in Services, Investment, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade, Trade Remedies, Rules of Origin, Customs and Trade Facilitation, Competition, Trade Defence, Government Procurement, Dispute Settlement, Intellectual Property Rights & Geographical Indications, Sustainable Development

2.Political Cooperation

    • Over the years, a multi-tiered institutional architecture for cooperation with the EU has been created with the Summit at its apex
      • The first India-EU Summit was held in 2000 which marked a watershed in the development of the relationship
      • The relationship was upgraded to a ‘Strategic Partnership’ during the 5th India-EU Summit held in 2004
    • In 2018, EU’s strategy on India entitled “A Partnership for Sustainable Modernization and Rules-based Global Order” was issued by the European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
      • It views India as an emerging global power that plays a key role in the current multipolar world and a factor of stability in a complex region and calls for greater India-EU political, security and defence cooperation
    • India-EU Agenda for Action 2020 endorsed by the 13th India-EU Summit in
    • 2016 serves as a framework for exchanges and cooperation between India and EU in various sectors
    • Further, the bilateral Strategic Partnership encompasses thirty one dialogue mechanisms covering a wide range of issues including trade, energy security, science & research, non-proliferation and disarmament, counter terrorism, cyber security, counter-piracy, migration and mobility, etc.

3.Development Partnership

    • India-EU development cooperation spans several decades and encompasses issues like health, education, poverty reduction, water and sanitation
    • The 2005 JAP highlighted that since 1976, the European Commission has committed 2 billion euro (US$ 2.4 billion) in development cooperation to India
      • Also, the Indian government’s decision to limit the number of international donors marked a concrete step towards changing the dynamics of development cooperation with the EU.
    • In 2014, the EU ended its Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) with India; between 2007 and 2013, the total EU assistance to India through the DCI was 450 million euro (US$ 545 million)
    • 2014 onwards: changing contours from the donor-recipient paradigm to that of cooperation through several instruments
      • The first is the combining of loans from international financial institutions and EU grants for developmental needs with the combined DCI and Asian Investment Facility portfolio of 180 million euros (US$ 218 million) in commitments over 2014-2020 for investment in the health sector, smart cities initiative, sustainable urban development and mobility
      • The second key development cooperation instrument is the European Investment Bank (EIB), which has provided loans for three different metro projects in India – Lucknow, Pune and Bengaluru
      • Third, the education and science and technology sectors have emerged as key areas of development cooperation. India is the largest recipient of Erasmus Mundus funding for higher education

4.Defence and Security

    • The 6th India-EU Foreign Policy and Security Consultations were held in 2018 to review the ways and means of strengthening India-EU Strategic Partnership
    • A bilateral dialogue on counter-terrorism meets from time to time to discuss cooperation in the area of countering terrorism, violent extremism and related areas
    • India and EU have gradually enhanced bilateral exchanges and cooperationin the field of defence & security.
      • This includes mutual ship visits, collaboration in escorting humanitarian aid ships and exchanges among military officials, including the EU Military Committee.
    • The new Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region in New Delhi (IFC-IOR) has recently been linked-up with the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) established by the EU Naval Force (NAVFOR)

5.Science, Research and Innovation

    • India-EU Science & Technology Steering Committee meets annually to review scientific cooperation
    • The committee identified a number of areas for collaboration such as smart grids, bio-economy, health research, polar science and cyber systems
    • ISRO has a long standing cooperation with the European Union, since 1970s
      • ISRO and the European Space Agency are working towards enhancing cooperation in earth observation.
      • A Joint Working Group (JWG) identifies cooperation opportunities in areas such as earth science, space science, space technology and integrated applications.
      • A Cooperation Arrangement between the European Commission and the Department of Space pertaining to the Copernicus programme signed in 2018 provides a framework for the exchange of data and wider cooperation in the space sector
    • Further, India and the EU are working closely on several fronts that cover the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — such as the smart cities initiative (SDG 11), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) and climate action (SDG 13)
      • The two have become key stakeholders in global efforts to combat climate change through the framework of Clean Energy and Climate Change Partnership, 2017

6.Maritime Cooperation

    • The Joint Action Plan adopted in 2005, highlighted and emphasized on maritime cooperation.
    • In the past few decades, both India and the EU have stressed on the idea of freedom of navigation, maritime piracy, and adherence to United Nation Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the development of the blue economy and maritime infrastructure.
    • Both have identified the Indo-Pacific as the new avenue for maritime cooperation.
    • In January 2021, India and the EU hosted the first Maritime security dialogue in a virtual format

7.Climate Change

    • India-EU relations have witnessed a commitment of international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris agreement
    • Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and the European Commission (EC) have established a co-funding mechanism (CFM) to support joint research projects selected under European Research & Innovation Framework Program ‘Horizon 2020’ related to climate change and polar research
    • The EU has also invested in numerous programmes such as India-EU water partnership, solar park programme, and Facilitating Offshore Wind in India (FOWIND).
      • The major investments was the signing of the 200 million EUR loan agreement between the EIB and the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency

8.Data Protection and Regulation

    • The Roadmap 2025 document for the first time reflected the need to build effective cooperation on data protection and regulation
    • During the 15th India-EU Summit, both sides agreed for greater convergence of the regulatory frameworks through data adequacy decision for the facilitation of cross-border data flow as well as engaging in dialogue regarding safe and ethical usage of AI and 5G

Roadblocks in negotiations

    • Political
      • The BTIA is nowhere near finalisation despite 16 rounds of discussions due to several contentious issues, including the trade in services and goods, intellectual property rights (IPR) and data security
      • Issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights(IPR)
        • Indian legislation bans both “ever-greening of patents (extending the time coverage of patents just before they expire, through minor changes to the product) and the exclusivity of test data (protection of clinical trial data), saying they jeopardise the sale of low-priced generic drugs and chemicals”
          • In this perspective, the EU expects India to strengthen its IPR regime
        • Another contentious aspect is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism in which EU wants detailed provisions while India is reluctant to accept this provision
    • Trade related
      • In trade in services, the areas of disagreement are in Mode 1, 3 and 4, as defined under the General Agreement on Trade and Services
        • While India has demanded greater access to the European market under Mode 1 and 4, the EU has demanded increased access to the Indian economy under Mode 3
      • When it comes to trade in goods, the EU has demanded the lowering of tariffs on wines, spirits, dairy and automobiles, but India has raised concerns that this could result in European imports flooding the market without any reciprocal access to the European market
      • India has demanded the lowering of non-tariff barriers in the sanitary and Phyto-sanitary sectors, and technical barriers imposed by the EU.
        • The strict labelling and trademarking norm imposed by the EU has led to the reduction of Indian exports to the European market

Way forward

  • The global geopolitical scenario has changed over the past few years.
    • The uncertain US policy outlook, the upending of the liberal multilateral order and the rise of an assertive China has led both India and EU to realise that a substantive engagement was imperative
  • Also, Given India’s growing regional and international relevance, it is crucial for the EU to renew its focus on developing the economic, political and defence partnership.
  • Thus, negotiators from both sides must look beyond the multiple differences to focus on the complementarities
  • Overall, Intensified dialogue and deliberations, a realignment of trade policies and emerging prospects of collaboration in the post-pandemic world provide India and the EU, an opportunity to transform their economic ties into a robust strategic partnership