Home World Towards a Stronger EU-India Partnership: A Visit of Members of the European...

Towards a Stronger EU-India Partnership: A Visit of Members of the European Parliament to India

A delegation of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) visited India from December 18–20, 2023. Members from two committees of the European Parliament comprised the delegation: first, the Delegation for Relations with India (D-IN), and second, the Sub-Committee on Security and Defence (SEDE). The D-IN was headed by Mr. Morten Lokkegaard and had eleven MEPs as its representatives. On the other hand, the SEDE comprised six MEPs and was led by Ms. Nathalie Loiseau. During this two-day visit, the delegations met several dignitaries and ministers to discuss and review the ongoing partnership between the European Union (EU) and India in multiple sectors.

Towards a Stable International Order

The External Affairs Minister (EAM), Dr. S. Jaishankar, met the delegates of the European Parliament on December 18 and spoke at length on the EU-India partnership. Both parties stressed how the partnership has been built upon shared values of democracy, multilateralism, respect for the rule of law, rules-based trade, and rules-based international order. Their discussions also revolved around the areas of supply chain security, geopolitical convergences, digital sensitivities, maritime security, and AI. Both delegations also met the Speaker of Lok Sabha, Shri Om Birla, on December 19 and held discussions on similar lines. Additionally, there were also talks on strengthening parliamentary exchange and cooperation.

Strengthening Economic Ties

On December 18, the D-IN delegation met the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal. They reviewed the progress of the India-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that is currently under process. Adding to it, they also discussed possible avenues to enhance economic ties. Both parties exchanged ideas on building self-reliance and open strategic autonomy to keep the respective economies prepared for any unforeseen crisis. For that, it was suggested to strengthen European and Indian domestic supply chains.

Defense and Security

The SEDE delegation called on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence to discuss the state of India-EU security cooperation. The role of parliamentarians in fostering partnerships among partners was also highlighted. In this regard, the SEDE also met the Chief of Defence Staff and the Defence Secretary. Some of the key takeaways from the meeting were building strategic security, enhancing defence cooperation, enhancing cooperation and synergy in the defence industry and manufacturing, and working towards better collaboration in the Indo-Pacific region. The EU has already taken up several initiatives through its Coordinated Maritime Presences, ESIWA (Enhancing Security Cooperation in and with Asia), and CRIMARIO (Critical Maritime Routes Indo-Pacific) projects, which would ease the free navigation of both parties. The delegation also visited and met with members of the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA), Bharat Electronics Limited, the Society of Defence Industry Manufacturers, the Western Naval Command and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited.

The visit by the MEPs to India holds great significance in the current geopolitical scenario where there is a great necessity to strengthen ties and build multilateral relations between nations. The shared common values of both partners—cooperation in the defense areas, especially the naval sector—would surely help enhance relations between the EU and India in the days to come.