From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- India's engagement with Europe and factors shaping it
The re-election of Emmanuel Macron as the president of France on Sunday has sent a sigh of relief across Europe and North America. Delhi too is pleased with the return of Macron, who laid a strong foundation for India’s strategic partnership with France.
Why France election matters to the regional and domestic order in Europe
- Unlike the Soviet Union, which sought to shape European politics though left-wing parties, Russia today influences European politics through right-wing parties.
- Victory for Marine Le Pen, Macron’s opponent, would have dramatically complicated the geopolitics of Europe.
- Le Pen, like so many other right-wing leaders in Europe, has close ties to Vladimir Putin.
- Le Pen’s victory would have not only altered France’s international trajectory, but also shaken the EU to its political core.
Three factors shaping the transformation of India’s ties with Europe
- Russia’s threat to the regional and domestic order in Europe is among multiple factors shaping Delhi’s intensifying engagement with Brussels.
- Three major external factors are facilitating the transformation of India’s ties with Europe.
1] Russian Question
- For India, a normal relationship between Russia and the West would have been ideal.
- But Russia’s confrontation with the West comes during India’s rapidly expanding economic and political ties to Europe and America.
- Delhi might be sentimental about India’s historic Russian connection but it is not going to sacrifice its growing ties to the West on that altar.
- Russia’s declining economic weight and growing international isolation begins to simplify India’s choices.
- During the last few weeks, Delhi has insisted that its silence is not an endorsement of Russian aggression.
- India’s position has continued to evolve.
- Delhi’s repeated emphasis on respecting the territorial integrity of states is a repudiation of Russia’s unacceptable aggression.
- Meanwhile, geographic proximity and economic complementarity have tied Europe even more deeply to Russia.
- The EU’s annual trade with Russia at around $260 billion is massive in comparison to India’s $10 billion.
- Putin’s reckless invasion of Ukraine has compelled Europe to embark on a costly effort to disconnect from Russia.
- The war in Ukraine has certainly presented a major near-term problem that needs to be managed by Delhi and Brussels.
2] China Question
- Moscow has been deepening ties with Beijing for more than two decades triggering many anxieties in Delhi.
- In February, Putin travelled to Beijing to announce a partnership “without limits”.
- India has no option but to manage the consequences of the Russian decision.
- In the last two decades, China has emerged as a great power and now presents a generational challenge for Indian policymakers.
- That challenge has been made harder by Putin’s alliance with Xi Jinping.
- As Delhi strives to retain a reasonable relationship with Moscow, Europe emerges as an important partner in letting India cope with the China challenge.
- Thanks to the growing problems of doing business with Xi’s China, Beijing’s geopolitical alliance with Moscow, and the rapid deterioration of Sino-US relations, Brussels is ready to invest serious political capital in building purposeful strategic ties with India.
3] American Question
- Until recently it appeared that Europe’s calls for “strategic autonomy” from the US were in sync with India’s own worldview.
- But the Ukraine crisis has underlined the US’s centrality in securing Europe against Russia.
- In Asia, Chinese assertiveness has brought back the US as a critical factor in shaping peace and security.
- Washington wants a strong Europe taking greater responsibility for its own security; it would like Delhi to play a larger role in Asia and become a credible provider of regional security.
- Above all, America wants India and Europe to build stronger ties with each other.
For the first time since independence, India’s interests are now aligning with those of Europe. Together, Delhi and Brussels can help reshape Eurasia as well as the Indo-Pacific.