Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Expert Explains: What European Parliament election results signify, with the rise of right-wing parties?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Impacts of election result

Why in the News?

The outcomes of the June 6-9 European Parliament elections, where approximately 51% of over 370 million eligible voters across 27 EU nations participated, indicated an increase in support for right-wing and far-right parties, resulting in losses for predominantly left-leaning and liberal parties.

What is the European Parliament?

  • The European Parliament is one of the core institutions of the European Union (EU), where Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by citizens of the 27 member states.
  • It provides democratic legitimacy to EU activities and consists of 720 seats allocated based on degressive proportionality, meaning smaller states elect more MEPs than their populations would warrant.

Functions of the European Parliament:

  • The Parliament has three main functions: adopting and amending EU legislation along with the Council of the EU, supervising the functioning of other EU institutions (especially the European Commission), and sharing authority over the EU budget with the Council.
  • It also ratifies international agreements and plays a crucial role in shaping the EU’s direction on various issues such as climate change, migration, and international relations.

Major Players in the New European Parliament:

  • MEPs are affiliated with Europe-wide political groups based on commonalities in ideology. Major groups include the European People’s Party (EPP), Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), Renew Europe, Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA), European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), Identity and Democracy (ID), and the Left Group (GUE/NGL).
  • The EPP and S&D have traditionally been the two major groups, but the Parliament has become more fragmented over time, leading to issue-based coalitions.
  • In the latest elections, the EPP emerged as the largest group, but right-wing and far-right parties made significant gains.

Impact on EU’s Position on Hot-Button Issues like Immigration:

  • The European Parliament reflects broader political trends across Europe, with right-wing parties gaining traction from issues such as increased immigration, national identity, and scepticism towards certain EU policies.
  • This shift towards the Right has pressured many centre-right parties to adopt harder positions on immigration, likely leading to increased support for tighter border controls and stricter immigration and asylum rules.

Impacts of election result:

  • The election results may influence the EU’s direction on key issues like climate change, migration, and international relations.
  • The rise of right-wing and far-right parties could lead to shifts in policy priorities and a more conservative stance on certain issues.
  • In national politics, the results may impact the stability of governments and the position of leaders like Emmanuel Macron, who called for snap polls in response to his party’s poor performance in the European elections.

Conclusion: The European Parliament election results signal a rise in right-wing parties, impacting EU policies on immigration and other key issues. National politics may also face repercussions, affecting leadership stability.

Mains PYQ:

Q Critically examine the procedures through which the Presidents of India and France are elected.(UPSC IAS/2022)

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

In a tough world, the beacon of U.K.-India strategic ties

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: na

Mains level: Strengthening defense ties and collaborative efforts in maritime security

 

India to England Distance | Medium

Central Idea:

The article emphasizes the deepening partnership between the United Kingdom and India, highlighting their shared interests in maritime security, global trade, and defense cooperation. It underscores the importance of strategic relationships, particularly in the face of global challenges such as maritime threats and conflicts like the Ukraine crisis. The piece celebrates the growing ties between the two nations and their collaborative efforts towards peace, prosperity, and upholding the rules-based International Order.

Key Highlights:

  • Mutual reliance on maritime trade and the significance of securing global sea routes.
  • Collaboration in Operation Prosperity Guardian to protect commercial shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
  • Support for Ukraine against Russian aggression, including substantial military aid and ongoing assistance.
  • Recognition of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region’s growing economic importance and the establishment of the U.K. tilt towards it.
  • Strengthening defense ties between the UK and India, with increased military interactions, joint exercises, and defense industrial partnerships.

Key Challenges:

  • Threats to maritime security, including aggression from groups like the Houthis and conflicts like the Ukraine crisis.
  • Balancing national interests with international cooperation in addressing global challenges.
  • Navigating geopolitical complexities and maintaining alliances amidst shifting power dynamics.
  • Ensuring sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the face of global uncertainties.

Main Terms:

  • Maritime security
  • Global trade
  • Defense partnership
  • Operation Prosperity Guardian
  • Indo-Asia-Pacific region
  • Rules-based International Order

India-UK - INSIGHTSIAS

Important Phrases for mains answer writing:

  • “The global lifelines of goods and resource”
  • “Wanton violence and disregard for international law”
  • “Strategies of isolationism or coercion”
  • “Rules-based International Order”
  • “Shared operational capabilities”

Quotes that can add value to to your arguments in mains answers:

  • “Our nations need to secure, and make free from aggression and exploitation, the global lifelines of goods and resource that flow across the seas.”
  • “The U.K., India, and the world have a common interest in ensuring this wanton violence and disregard for international law are not allowed to become normalised.”
  • “The possibilities for global prosperity cannot be understated, and the importance of the Indo-Asia Pacific, not just to the United Kingdom, but to the world, has never been clearer.”

Anecdotes:

  • Highlighting the successful efforts of Ukraine’s armed forces in resisting Russian aggression and reopening maritime corridors for grain exports.
  • The positive reception of the UK Carrier Strike Group during its visit to India and the hospitality extended by Indian authorities.

Useful Statements for mains answer writing:

  • “In this ever more unstable world, the U.K. is fortunate to have India as a good friend.”
  • “History teaches us that strategies of isolationism or coercion have rarely produced strong coalitions.”

Examples and References:

  • Mention of Operation Prosperity Guardian and the joint efforts to protect maritime trade routes.
  • Ukraine’s resilience against Russian aggression and the support provided by the UK.
  • Increased military interactions and defense collaborations between the UK and India.

Facts and Data for credibility in your answer:

  • £2.5 billion in military aid provided by the UK to Ukraine in 2024-25, totaling almost £12 billion since 2022.
  • Record numbers of UK ship visits to India and the deepening defense partnership between the two nations.
  • The shift of the global economic center of gravity towards the Indo-Asia-Pacific region by 2050.

Critical Analysis:

The article provides a comprehensive overview of the strategic partnership between the UK and India, emphasizing shared interests in maritime security, global trade, and defense cooperation. It effectively highlights the challenges posed by maritime threats and conflicts like the Ukraine crisis while advocating for continued international cooperation and upholding the rules-based International Order. The piece demonstrates the importance of strategic alliances in navigating global uncertainties and promoting peace and prosperity.

Way Forward:

  • Strengthening defense ties and collaborative efforts in maritime security.
  • Continued support for Ukraine and other nations facing security threats.
  • Enhancing economic cooperation and leveraging the opportunities in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
  • Advocating for the rules-based International Order and promoting stability through diplomatic engagement and multilateral cooperation.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Greece’s gateway to Asia, India’s gateway to Europe

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC)

Mains level: deeper collaboration between Greece and India

 

India, Greece Agree To Elevate Relations To Level Of Strategic Partnership

Central Idea:

The article discusses the growing strategic relationship between Greece and India, emphasizing the importance of deepening bilateral ties across various sectors. It highlights the mutual benefits of collaboration, the significance of security and stability in their respective regions, and the potential for economic cooperation through initiatives like the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC).

Key Highlights:

  • The visit of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to India signifies the momentum in strengthening bilateral relations initiated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Greece.
  • Both countries recognize the strategic importance of their geographical locations and the need for cooperation to ensure security, stability, and prosperity.
  • Collaboration extends across strategic, military, and business sectors, with examples such as joint military exercises and investment partnerships.
  • Economic reforms in Greece under the Mitsotakis government aim to boost sustainable growth and position the country as a reliable partner in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • The concept of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC) emerges as a promising avenue for enhancing economic ties between India and Greece.
  • Emphasis is placed on fostering people-to-people ties through cultural exchanges, education programs, and media cooperation.

India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor: A passage of possibilities -  Frontline

Key Challenges:

  • The pace of bilateral cooperation has been slow, indicating a need for greater momentum.
  • Despite existing collaborations, there is room for further expansion and diversification of partnerships.
  • Ensuring sustained commitment from both governments and businesses to deepen ties amidst global uncertainties.

Main Terms:

  • Strategic relationship
  • Geopolitical volatility
  • Bilateral cooperation
  • Economic reforms
  • India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC)
  • People-to-people ties

Important Phrases:

  • “No better gateway to Europe than Greece”
  • “Prisoners of geography”
  • “Constructing the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC)”
  • “Critical year in the building of the Greece-India strategic partnership”

Quotes:

  • “India will find no better gateway to Europe than my country and for Greece there is no better gateway to Asia than a close strategic relationship with India.”
  • “Greece is still by far the best European country to invest in.”
  • “The fact that the political leaders of Greece and India are exchanging visits within a short time frame shows not just their determination to move the relationship forward but also the urgency they attach to this task.”

Useful Statements:

  • Collaboration between Greece and India is essential for ensuring security, stability, and prosperity in their respective regions.
  • Economic reforms in Greece aim to position the country as a reliable partner in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • Initiatives like the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC) offer significant potential for enhancing bilateral economic ties.

Examples and References:

  • Joint military exercises between the Indian Navy and Greek armed forces.
  • Investment partnerships between Indian and Greek businesses, such as the construction of a new airport on the island of Crete.
  • The involvement of Indian-Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa in Greek investments, advocating for Greek-Indian business cooperation.

Facts and Data:

  • Historic visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Greece in August 2023.
  • Collaboration between Indian and Greek businesses in various sectors, including construction, shipping, and finance.

Critical Analysis:

  • The article underscores the significance of deeper collaboration between Greece and India in light of geopolitical challenges and economic opportunities.
  • It highlights the need for accelerated efforts to overcome historical inertia and realize the full potential of the bilateral relationship.
  • Emphasis on people-to-people ties reflects a holistic approach to strengthening cultural and educational exchanges alongside economic and strategic cooperation.

Way Forward:

  • Both governments should prioritize the implementation of existing agreements and explore new avenues for cooperation.
  • Continued engagement between businesses from both countries is crucial for diversifying and expanding partnerships.
  • Investing in educational and cultural exchanges can foster mutual understanding and long-term cooperation.
  • Regular high-level visits and dialogue mechanisms should be maintained to sustain momentum and address emerging challenges.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Schengen Area: A Milestone in European Integration

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Schengen Area, Eurozone

Mains level: NA

Schengen Area

Introduction

  • Kosovo recently achieved visa-free access to the Schengen zone in Europe, marking a significant milestone in its integration with the European Union (EU) and the broader international community.

What is Schengen Area?

  • Definition: A zone comprising 27 European countries where internal borders have been abolished for the free movement of people.
  • Membership: Includes 23 of the 27 EU member states and all members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
  • Key Features:
    1. No internal border checks except in specific threat situations.
    2. Harmonized controls at external borders based on defined criteria.

About Eurozone

  • A geographic and economic region consisting of European Union countries that have adopted the euro as their national currency.
  • As of January 2023, consists of 20 EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.
  • Key Features:
    1. Coordination of economic policy-making to support EU economic aims.
    2. Replacement of national currencies with the euro.

Requirements for Joining the Eurozone

EU nations must meet specific criteria, including four macroeconomic indicators:

  1. Price Stability: Maintain sustainable price performance with average inflation no more than 1.5 percent above the rate of the three best-performing member states.
  2. Public Finances: Maintain a budget deficit no greater than 3% of GDP and public debt no greater than 60% of GDP.
  3. Durability of Convergence: Assessed through long-term interest rates, which cannot exceed 2 percent above the rate in the three most price-stable member states.
  4. Exchange Rate Stability: Demonstrate stability by participating in the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) II for at least two years without severe tensions or devaluation against the euro.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-UK Free Trade Agreement: A Strategic Shift in Trade Relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Free Trade Agreement

Mains level: NA

fta

Central Idea

  • External Affairs Minister recent discussions with British PM have put the India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) at the forefront of bilateral negotiations.

Why does this FTA matter?

  • The FTA, when finalized, is expected to not only enhance economic ties between India and the UK but also serve as a blueprint for similar agreements with India’s second-largest trading partner, the European Union (EU).

What is Free Trade Agreement (FTA)?

  • A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a legally binding trade pact between two or more countries or regions that aims to reduce or eliminate barriers to trade and promote economic cooperation.
  • FTAs are designed to facilitate the exchange of goods and services across borders by reducing or eliminating tariffs (import taxes), quotas, and various non-tariff barriers, such as regulations and licensing requirements.
  • These agreements are negotiated to create a more open and competitive trade environment, fostering economic growth and prosperity among the participating nations.

India’s considerations and UK

  • Economic Integration: India is reorienting its trade strategy, moving away from previous trade deals that widened deficits with East Asian countries. Instead, it’s focusing on strengthening economic integration with Western and African nations.
  • Reducing Dependence on China: The disruption of global supply chains during the pandemic exposed the risks of overreliance on China. Western countries, including Australia and the UK, are now seeking a ‘China-plus one’ approach in trade.
  • RCEP Exit: India’s exit from the China-dominated Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) further underscores its desire to bolster trade ties with the UK, EU, Australia, and others as a counterbalance to China’s influence.

Brexit Influence and UK’s Perspective

  • Crucial for UK: A trade deal with India holds significant importance for the UK, especially as it faces a challenging election in early 2025. Concerns that fueled the Brexit vote have made the UK cautious about offering work permits to Indian service sector workers under the FTA.
  • Market Compensation: Despite Brexit uncertainties, the vast Indian market provides London with an opportunity to offset the loss of access to the European Single Market.

Benefits for India and the UK

  • India’s Gains: Indian labour-intensive sectors like apparel and gems & jewellery have struggled with declining market share. A trade deal could potentially level the playing field with competitors like Bangladesh. However, it may have repercussions on Least Developed Countries.
  • UK’s Advantages: Past trade deals have shown that eliminating duties doesn’t guarantee export growth. Reduction of tariffs on British exports like cars, whisky, and wines could provide deeper access to Indian markets.
  • Tariff Disparity: The average tariff on Indian imports to the UK is 4.2%, while the average tariff in India on goods from the UK is 14.6%, highlighting the potential for tariff alignment.

Addressing Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs)

  • Modern FTA Scope: FTA negotiations could focus on eliminating non-tariff barriers (NTBs), which have historically hindered exports. NTBs often involve regulations, standards, testing, certification, or reshipment inspections, especially in agriculture and manufacturing.
  • Conformity Assessments: Indian agricultural exporters often face strict limits on contaminants, and Indian products face rejections due to conformity assessments and technical requirements.

Carbon Tax and Impact

  • The UK, akin to the EU, is considering a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) that imposes a carbon tax on certain imports based on emissions.
  • This move may affect India’s exports, even with reduced tariffs, particularly in sectors like cement, chemicals, steel, and power generation.

Conclusion

  • The India-UK Free Trade Agreement represents a strategic shift in India’s trade policy, emphasizing Western and African integration while mitigating dependence on China.
  • For the UK, it offers a chance to compensate for Brexit-related losses and strengthen ties with a significant economic partner.
  • Addressing tariff disparities, NTBs, and carbon taxes will be pivotal in shaping the FTA’s impact on both nations’ economies.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Visa Shopping in India: Legal Implications and Opportunities

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Visa Shopping

Mains level: NA

Visa Shopping

Central Idea

  • The practice of ‘visa shopping’ is on the rise across various Indian states, most notably in Punjab, where travel agencies facilitate this process.

Understanding Visa Shopping

  • Definition: ‘Visa shopping’ entails obtaining visas for countries one may or may not intend to visit during the visa’s validity period.
  • Purpose: Individuals opt for this practice to secure access to their preferred countries, especially in Europe, even if they possess visas for other European nations.
  • Planning for the Future: Some acquire visas for countries they do not plan to visit immediately, strategically increasing their chances of obtaining visas for their desired destinations later, given the lengthy and uncertain visa application processes.

Exploiting the Schengen System

  • Schengen Visa: This visa exemplifies ‘visa shopping’ as it offers a unique opportunity to explore multiple European countries without the need for separate visas.
  • Schengen Agreement: Established in 1985, the Schengen system allows free movement between member countries, comprising over 24 nations, sans border controls.
  • Single Visa, Multiple Countries: Obtaining a Schengen Visa from one of its member countries, such as Germany, France, or Italy, grants entry into the entire Schengen region.

Case Scenarios

  • Easier Application Process: Many applicants prefer to secure a Schengen Visa from a country with a more straightforward application process.
  • Success Stories: Instances include individuals who, after facing rejection for a Spanish or German visa, obtained visas for other Schengen nations, enabling them to reach their intended destinations.

Visa Shopping and Legal Issues

  • Compliance with Norms: The practice is legal as long as travellers adhere to visa process norms and obtain legitimate permission to stay in the country.
  • Intent Matters: Legal complications arise when individuals seek visas for one country but actually intend to stay in another or use it merely as an entry point.
  • Estonian Embassy’s Caution: The Embassy of Estonia in New Delhi cautioned against visa shopping, emphasizing that travellers must apply for a visa from the country where they plan the maximum stay.

Consequences of Suspected Visa Shopping

  • Thorough Scrutiny: Embassies now conduct comprehensive checks of travel plans to detect visa shopping.
  • Potential Consequences: Suspected individuals may face visa refusal, being offloaded from flights, or deportation from EU borders.
  • Official Suspicion: Repeated engagement in visa shopping can arouse suspicion among immigration officials, leading to potential problems during travel.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-France Relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Development diplomacy, The India-France Development Partnership, Cooperation in Indo pacific

What’s the news?

  • In a recent development, the Indo-French partnership, celebrating its 25th anniversary, reaffirmed its commitment to tackling sustainable development challenges in the Indo-Pacific through innovative strategies and regional collaboration.

Central idea

  • The Indo-Pacific region has emerged as a critical geographic hotspot for sustainable development in the 21st century. India and France, as resident powers and close allies sharing democratic values and a commitment to multilateralism, play pivotal roles in this context. Their 25-year-old strategic partnership is now geared towards Agenda 2030, as outlined in the ambitious ‘India-France Indo-Pacific Roadmap’ within ‘Horizon 2047.

What is development diplomacy?

  • Development diplomacy, also known as development-oriented diplomacy, is a diplomatic approach that seeks to promote and advance a country’s development goals and objectives through its foreign policy and international relations.
  • It involves using diplomatic tools, negotiations, and cooperation with other countries and international organizations to address issues related to economic development, poverty reduction, social progress, and sustainability.

The significant role of development diplomacy in shaping global relations

  • Bridge Between Foreign Policy and Development Cooperation:
  • Development diplomacy is occupying a crucial space that bridges foreign policy and development cooperation.
  • This integration of diplomacy and development efforts allows countries to pursue their foreign policy objectives while simultaneously working toward global development goals.
  • Benefit for the Global South:
  • Development diplomacy is particularly beneficial for countries in the Global South. These nations often face substantial development challenges, including poverty, infrastructure deficits, and limited access to financing.
  • Development diplomacy can help them access resources, technology, and expertise from other countries and international organizations.
  • India’s G20 Presidency:
  • India’s successful G20 presidency was a pivotal moment that emphasized the importance of development cooperation on the global stage. During its presidency, India focused on connecting with low-income countries and small island developing states (SIDS).
  • This outreach demonstrates how development diplomacy can be a key instrument for building partnerships, addressing common challenges, and fostering solidarity among nations.
  • Bridging the North-South Gap:
  • Development diplomacy, as exemplified by India’s engagement during its G20 presidency, serves as a means to bridge the gap between the Global North (developed countries) and the Global South (developing countries).
  • It promotes cooperation, knowledge sharing, and resource allocation to support sustainable development in regions that need it most.

French Presence in the Indian Ocean

  • Overseas Territories: France has several overseas territories and departments in the Indian Ocean, including Réunion Island, Mayotte, and the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF). These territories are integral parts of France and are located strategically in the Indian Ocean.
  • Naval Bases: France maintains important naval bases in the Indian Ocean, notably in Réunion and Mayotte. These bases serve as key hubs for French naval operations in the region, including patrolling and securing maritime routes.
  • Military Presence: France deploys military assets to protect its interests and contribute to regional security in the Indian Ocean. This includes naval vessels, aircraft, and troops stationed in the area. These forces are often involved in counter-piracy operations and maritime security efforts.
  • Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs): France’s overseas territories in the Indian Ocean have large Exclusive Economic Zones, which grant them jurisdiction over significant maritime areas. These zones are valuable for fisheries, resource exploration, and scientific research.
  • Geopolitical Interests: France’s presence in the Indian Ocean is driven by various geopolitical interests. These include ensuring the security of its overseas territories, protecting maritime trade routes, countering piracy and illegal fishing, and participating in regional stability efforts.
  • Cooperation with Regional Partners: France collaborates with regional partners and organizations in the Indian Ocean, such as the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and the African Union, to address common challenges, including environmental protection, security, and economic development.
  • Economic Engagement: France is involved in economic activities in the Indian Ocean region, including trade, investment, and development assistance. French companies operate in sectors such as energy, infrastructure, and tourism.

Indo-French Strategic Cooperation

  • Geographic Significance: The Indo-Pacific region is highlighted as a critical geographic hotspot for sustainable development in the 21st century, and both India and France are described as resident powers and close allies with significant stakes in the region.
  • Shared Values: India and France are characterized as bilateral trade partners who share the core values of democracy and a commitment to multilateralism. Their strategic partnership is noted as being particularly relevant to the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Long-Standing Partnership: The partnership between India and France has reached the milestone of 25 years, and both countries express a keen interest in strengthening their cooperation towards achieving Agenda 2030, as outlined in the India-France Indo-Pacific Roadmap within the framework of Horizon 2047.
  • Areas of Cooperation: India and France have formulated several mutually beneficial cooperation agreements covering various sectors, including defense, climate, economic, maritime, and civil nuclear domains. Their shared geopolitical interests and developmental agendas are cited as key drivers of this cooperation.
  • Diplomatic Peak: The diplomatic relationship between India and France is described as being at its peak, with both nations poised for a policy dialogue to further their cooperation in supporting sovereign efforts and addressing developmental challenges with a focus on sustainability.
  • Global Impact: The significance of development diplomacy is significant. Development diplomacy is a crucial tool for many countries in the Global South that lack resources and access to finance.
  • G20 Presidency: India’s G20 presidency is highlighted as an opportunity for the country to contribute to and lead global development efforts in the post-pandemic world.
  • Data Analysis: India and France are noted for their involvement in data analysis using satellite technologies, although specific details are not provided.

Addressing Challenges in Sustainable Development

  • Defining Green Projects: The ambiguity surrounding the definition of green projects poses a significant obstacle to sustainable development. India and France can take the lead in setting clear standards and criteria for such projects, establishing a common framework that encompasses environmental, social, and economic factors.
  • Bridging the Start-up Financing Gap: Start-ups are often the breeding ground for innovative, sustainable solutions, yet they face financing hurdles. India and France can collaborate to create dedicated funds and venture capital networks focused on green and sustainable start-ups.
  • Enhancing Data Collection and Analysis: Accurate and accessible data is the backbone of informed decision-making. Leveraging their expertise in data analysis and satellite technology, India and France can establish a regional data repository.
  • Encouraging Private Sector Engagement: The private sector is a potent force in driving sustainability. Both countries can incentivize businesses by offering tax incentives, subsidies, or preferential treatment to companies that embrace sustainable practices.
  • Promoting Regional Cooperation: Sustainable development challenges often transcend borders. India and France can lead by example, initiating regional cooperation efforts. These may include co-funding cross-border infrastructure projects, facilitating knowledge sharing among Indo-Pacific nations.

Conclusion

  • The India-France Development Partnership in the Indo-Pacific holds immense promise for realizing Agenda 2030s sustainable development goals. As resident powers and close allies, India and France are well-positioned to lead the way in addressing the region’s development challenges and fostering sustainability.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-Greece Relations: Bridging Cultures and Commerce

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-Greece Relations

greece

Central Idea

  • PM Modi recently visited Greece to elevate bilateral ties to the level of strategic partnership.
  • No Indian PM has visited Greece since 1983.
  • Greece awarded the Indian PM with “The Grand Cross of the Order of Honour” (its second highest civilian award).

India and Greece Ties: A Historic Backgrounder

  • India’s engagement with Greece spans over 2500 years, marked by trade, literature, and art interactions.
  • Trade links and cultural exchanges existed between Mauryan Kings and Greece, evidenced by coinage and writings.
  • Alexander the Great’s invasion in 326 BC led to interactions with Indian rulers, including battles with Raja Porus and Ambhi.
  • Chanakya’s writings mention Megasthenes, an ambassador, in Chandragupta’s court.
  • The fusion of Greek and Indian influences is visible in Gandhara Art.

Establishment of Modern Diplomatic Ties

  • Diplomatic relations established in 1950.
  • Embassies set up in Athens and Delhi, reflecting mutual cooperation.
  • Greece respected India’s decisions on various internal matters and the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM).
  • Collaboration on nuclear issues and international platforms showcased strong ties.
  • Greece’s support for India on geopolitical and global matters.

Key Areas of Collaboration

(1) Defence and Security

  • Enhancing collaboration in maritime security, counter-terrorism, cyber security, and defence industry.
  • Establishment of an India-Greece dialogue framework at the level of National Security Advisors (NSAs) for comprehensive discussions.

(2) Maritime Security and International Law

  • A shared vision for a free, open, and rules-based Mediterranean Sea and Indo-Pacific.
  • Pledged adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, and freedom of navigation.

(3) Culture and Tourism

  • Commitment to promoting art exchanges and cooperation.
  • Joint efforts to preserve and safeguard ancient sites are bolstered through collaboration within UNESCO.

(4) Trade and Investment

  • The ambitious goal of doubling bilateral trade by 2030.
  • Exploration of opportunities in sectors including renewable energy, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and innovation.

(5) Mobility and Migration Partnership Agreement (MMPA)

  • Recognition of the mutual benefits of an early finalization of the MMPA.
  • Aims to facilitate the free movement of the workforce between the two nations.

Recent Visit: An In-depth Analysis

  • PM Modi’s visit marked the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 40 years.
  • Collaborative efforts focused on military cooperation, counter-terrorism, and cybersecurity.
  • National Security Advisor-level dialogue was held to facilitate comprehensive discussions on mutual concerns.
  • Both nations committed to maritime security, promoting free and open seas in the Mediterranean and Indo-Pacific.
  • Adherence to UNCLOS, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and navigation freedom are emphasized.
  • Strengthening cooperation across defence, science, culture, tourism, and agriculture sectors.
  • Greek membership in the International Solar Alliance and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

Future Outlook

  • Both leaders stressed cultural exchanges and people-to-people connections.
  • PM Modi invited PM Mitsotakis to India, highlighting further deepening of relations.
  • India-Greece ties play a significant role in the broader India-Europe commercial corridor plans.
  • Shared vision for progress and commitment to diplomatic resolutions.
  • Strengthening civilizational bonds through cultural interactions.

Conclusion

  • The historical and modern India-Greece relations exhibit a strong foundation and evolving collaboration.
  • Recent joint efforts underscore a robust partnership across various domains and a positive outlook for the future.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

U.K.-India relationship

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: U.K.-India relationship

relationship

What’s the news?

  • India, the world’s largest democracy, has taken a momentous stride onto the global stage by hosting the G-20 summit, a pivotal forum fostering international cooperation.

Central idea

  • India’s hosting of the G-20 summit takes center stage, as the UK underscores its commitment to free trade and cooperation. The growing Indian middle class emerges as a potential boon for UK businesses. Bilateral trade thrives with an eye on a Free Trade Agreement, while cultural ties and the Alive with Opportunity campaign enrich the partnership.

Growing Indian middle class and bilateral trade relations

  • Projected Middle Class Surge: By 2050, India’s middle class is set to expand to a quarter of a billion consumers, signaling a significant opportunity for the UK.
  • Thriving Trading Partnership: The UK and India currently enjoy a thriving trading relationship that was valued at £36 billion in the year 2022.
  • UK as Top Investment Source: Fresh statistics from the UK’s Department for Business and Trade underscore India’s sustained status as the second-largest source of investment projects for the UK. In the last financial year, 118 new projects emerged, contributing to the creation of 8,384 jobs across the UK.
  • Reciprocal Trade and Investment: The partnership between the UK and India goes beyond investment, as the UK is also India’s sixth-largest investor. Over the period from April 2000 to March 2023, the UK invested $34 billion in India through foreign direct investment.
  • Mutually Beneficial Business Ventures: The interplay of trade and investment benefits both nations. With 618 UK companies operating in India, the cumulative turnover amounts to approximately $50 billion, and they collectively employ around 466,640 individuals directly as of 2021.

Advancing an Ambitious Free Trade Agreement and Strengthening the Partnership

  • Ministerial Meeting: Scheduled discussions with Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal in India focus on progressing an ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to elevate bilateral trade relations.
  • UK’s Negotiating Expertise: Leveraging the UK’s trade negotiation track record, the objective is to expedite the FTA process with India. Addressing complexities in goods, services, and investment is crucial to establishing an encompassing agreement ensuring fairness and mutual benefit.
  • Diverse Partnership: Beyond trade, the UK-India partnership extends across culture, sports, education, and tourism, as epitomized by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s living bridge metaphor.
  • Cinematic Bonds: Shared enthusiasm for Bollywood showcases the connection. The UK boasts one of the world’s largest Bollywood audiences. Landmarks like St. Paul’s Cathedral and Blenheim Palace feature in iconic films like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, cementing the cinematic relationship.
  • Vibrant Indian Diaspora: The Indian diaspora, over 1.6 million strong, plays a pivotal role in the UK. Contributions span education to the workforce, with Indian students forming a significant part of the UK’s international student community, reinforcing enduring ties.

Unveiling the Alive with Opportunity Campaign

  • Campaign Launch: The UK proudly introduces the £1.5 million Alive with Opportunity marketing campaign, serving as a tribute to the robust bond between the UK and India.
  • Celebrating Exchange: This initiative is dedicated to celebrating the perpetual exchange of people, ideas, and culture between the two nations.
  • Trade Growth Objective: Aligned with the vision to double trade with India by 2030, the campaign aims to stimulate interest and demand for UK goods and services.
  • Business Growth Focus: The campaign also seeks to boost the UK’s potential for business growth through strengthened trade ties with India and by attracting fresh Indian investments.
  • Illuminating Connections: Over the course of the upcoming year, the campaign will cast a spotlight on the dynamic business, trade, cultural, and sporting connections between the UK and India across diverse platforms.
  • Emphasizing Opportunities: By highlighting these facets, the campaign underscores the significant opportunities embedded within the vibrant partnership.

Conclusion

  • The India-UK-UKrtnership stands as a shining example of successful collaboration, underscored by burgeoning trade, investment, and shared values. As both nations continue their journey toward deeper ties, the prospects for mutual growth and prosperity appear brighter than ever.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Switzerland ambassador writes: A time-tested friendship with India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Innovations and collaboration between Swiss-Indian Partnership

Mains level: The Treaty of Friendship and Establishment between Switzerland and India, diverse achievements and future trajectory

Switzerland

What’s the news?

  • On the 75th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship, Switzerland and India commemorate a historic alliance that has fostered achievements in diverse sectors and look forward to deepening collaboration in areas like innovation, sustainable development, and healthcare.

Central idea

  • In the annals of diplomatic history, the Treaty of Friendship and Establishment signed between Switzerland and India in 1948 stands as a testament to the enduring bond that has flourished for 75 years. As we commemorate this significant milestone, it is both opportune and prudent to reflect on the accomplishments achieved and envision the promising avenues that lie ahead.

What is The Treaty of Friendship and Establishment?

  • The Treaty of Friendship and Establishment between Switzerland and India, signed in 1948, holds historical significance as one of India’s earliest diplomatic agreements after gaining independence.
  • It marked the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between the two nations and set the tone for their subsequent bilateral relationship.
  • This treaty emphasized mutual respect and cooperation, laying the groundwork for collaborations across various sectors such as vocational training, economic investments, technological exchange, and sustainable development.

Historical Significance and Diverse Achievements

  • India’s Earliest Diplomatic Endeavors: The 1948 Treaty marked one of India’s earliest diplomatic endeavors and established a foundation of mutual respect. The ensuing decades witnessed fruitful cooperation in various sectors.
  • Investments in Skill Development: Switzerland’s investment in vocational training institutes and rail wagon factories aided India’s workforce development.
  • Milk Cooperatives: The establishment of milk farmer cooperatives in Kerala contributed to the dairy industry’s growth.
  • Technological Synergy: India’s IT expertise supported global undertakings, including Y2K bug resolution.
  • Climate-Friendly Innovation: Swiss-Indian collaboration led to Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3), a low-carbon cement alternative.
  • Economic Partnership: Switzerland’s position as India’s 12th largest foreign investor fostered economic growth.

Future Trajectory in the Swiss-Indian Partnership

  • Swiss-Indian Innovation Platform:
  • An upcoming milestone, the Swiss-Indian Innovation Platform, is a testament to the commitment of both nations towards fostering innovation.
  • By harnessing the strengths of India’s technological advancements and Switzerland’s innovation prowess, this platform aims to address pressing global challenges.
  • Notably, the focus on combating Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) showcases the partnership’s practical relevance in tackling contemporary healthcare concerns.
  • Sustainable Development:
  • Both nations share a steadfast commitment to sustainable development.
  • Building on their historical collaboration, they are likely to channel their efforts towards joint initiatives that promote eco-friendly practices, address climate change, and ensure responsible resource utilization.
  • Healthcare Cooperation:
  • The partnership’s trajectory is expected to be marked by deeper collaboration in healthcare.
  • Drawing upon India’s technological prowess and Switzerland’s pharmaceutical innovations, joint ventures can pave the way for groundbreaking medical solutions, contributing to global health and well-being.
  • Investment and Trade:
  • Switzerland’s position as India’s 12th largest foreign investor underscores the depth of economic engagement.
  • With over 330 Swiss companies actively operating in India, this partnership has facilitated investment, job creation, and technology transfer, contributing to India’s economic growth.\
  • Free Trade Agreement:
  • Anticipating the horizon, discussions surrounding a Free Trade Agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and India hold immense promise.
  • This agreement not only deepens trade ties but also catalyzes increased investments and innovation in both regions, boosting economic vitality.
  • Shared Values, Shared Growth:
  • Built upon the foundation of shared values, the economic relationship is characterized by mutual respect and common interests.
  • The economic collaborations not only boost trade figures but also underscore the friendship’s ability to drive prosperity for both nations.

Conclusion

  • As we celebrate this milestone, the trajectory ahead appears promising, anchored in sustainable development, innovative solutions, and cooperative endeavors. It is a tryst with destiny that not only celebrates past achievements but anticipates an even brighter future for the intertwined destinies of Switzerland and India.

Also read:

India Switzerland Relations

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Switzerland’s Foreign Policy: Promoting Peace and Collaboration

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India's UNSC presidency

Mains level: Switzerland's foreign policy and alignment with India's principles

Switzerland

Central Idea

  • Switzerland, known for its long-standing commitment to neutrality and diplomacy, has concluded its month-long presidency of the United Nations Security Council. Switzerland’s historical experiences and its alignment with the principles of ahimsa (non-violence) make it a natural partner for India, a country rooted in similar values.

Switzerland’s Historical Journey

  • Civil Wars (16th to 19th century): Switzerland experienced a series of civil wars between Catholics and Protestants, lasting for up to 300 years. These conflicts ravaged the country and led to a moment of deep reflection.
  • The Swiss Confederation (1848): The civil war of 1847 prompted the Swiss people to envision a more peaceful future. In 1848, the Swiss Confederation was established, creating inclusive federal institutions that aimed to build domestic peace.
  • League of Nations (1920): Switzerland played a significant role in the establishment of the League of Nations, an international organization founded in Geneva after World War I. The League aimed to maintain peace and prevent future conflicts through collective security and diplomacy.
  • United Nations (1945): Switzerland actively supported the founding of the United Nations, a global organization formed after World War II to promote international cooperation, peace, and security. The UN has since played a vital role in addressing global challenges and conflicts.

Switzerland

Priorities set by Switzerland during its UNSC presidency

  • Building Sustainable Peace: Switzerland emphasized the importance of building sustainable peace in conflict-affected regions. Switzerland advocated for dialogue, trust-building, and diplomacy as essential tools to address the root causes of conflicts and promote lasting peace.
  • Protection of Civilians: Recognizing the plight of civilians caught in armed conflicts, Switzerland focused on the protection of civilians as a critical aspect of its foreign policy agenda. This involved raising awareness about the challenges faced by civilians in conflict zones and urging the international community to take concrete measures to safeguard their rights and well-being.
  • Humanitarian Action: Switzerland placed significant importance on humanitarian action during its UNSC presidency. It sought to mobilize support and resources for humanitarian assistance in areas affected by armed conflict, ensuring the provision of critical aid to vulnerable populations, including access to food, shelter, healthcare, and education.
  • Promotion of Multilateralism: As a strong advocate for multilateralism, Switzerland prioritized the promotion of international cooperation and collaboration. Switzerland aimed to foster dialogue and consensus-building among Security Council members to effectively address pressing global issues and work towards shared solutions.

Switzerland

Switzerland’s Foreign Policy alignment with India’s Principles

  • Non-Violence (Ahimsa): Switzerland and India both emphasize the principle of non-violence (ahimsa) in their foreign policy outlook. Switzerland’s commitment to peace promotion and the protection of civilians in zones of armed conflict resonates with India’s longstanding belief in non-violence as a means to resolve conflicts and maintain harmonious relations.
  • Shared Historical Legacies: Switzerland’s historical struggles with civil wars and subsequent efforts to establish inclusive federal institutions for domestic peace parallel India’s own historical journey toward independence and the construction of an inclusive democratic system.
  • Value of Diplomacy: Switzerland’s role as a neutral and diplomatic hub and India’s long-standing commitment to diplomatic engagements underline the significance of dialogue, negotiation, and consensus-building in addressing global challenges and conflicts.
  • International Cooperation: Switzerland actively engages in international organizations and initiatives, such as the United Nations, while India’s active participation in multilateral platforms like the United Nations and the G20 underscores its commitment to international cooperation. Both countries value multilateralism and collaborative efforts to address shared challenges.
  • Promotion of Peace: Switzerland’s focus on building sustainable peace and protecting civilians in conflict zones aligns with India’s commitment to peace promotion and conflict resolution. Both countries prioritize peaceful means of resolving disputes and work towards creating a peaceful and secure world.

Facts for Prelims: The UNITE Aware technology platform

  • The UNITE Aware technology platform is a system developed by India in collaboration with the United Nations to enhance the safety and security of peacekeepers deployed in conflict zones.
  • It is a real-time situational awareness system that uses advanced technologies such as satellites, drones, and geospatial tools to provide up-to-date information on the ground situation to peacekeeping forces.
  • The system also includes a mobile app that allows peacekeepers to report incidents and receive alerts in real-time.
  • The platform is designed to help peacekeepers make informed decisions and respond effectively to emerging threats, thereby reducing the risks to their safety and security.

Switzerland

Conclusion

  • Switzerland’s foreign policy, anchored in peace promotion and protection of civilians in armed conflict zones, aligns with India’s principles of non-violence. Switzerland’s active initiatives and participation in the United Nations Security Council’s open debates reflect its commitment to fostering a peaceful future. Together, Switzerland’s position in New York and India’s G20 presidency offer a promising path towards a more harmonious and peaceful world.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Macron’s Statement On China and India’s Own Possibilities In Europe

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Europe- France-US and China Complex relations

Macron

Central idea

  • French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent declaration that France is an ally but not a vassal of the United States and his comments that Paris does not share Washington’s hostility towards China have generated significant reactions in the US and Europe. Beijing’s official media has praised Macron’s strategic autonomy approach towards China, and Russia hopes that France and other European countries will be less politically tied to the US.

Macron’s comments on China and Taiwan and reactions

  • Outrage in the US and Europe: Macron’s comments that France does not share the US’s hostility towards China and does not see the Taiwan crisis as a threat to Europe have generated outrage in the US and Europe.
  • China praised: Beijing sees Macron’s model of strategic autonomy as a positive example for other nations to follow regarding China.
  • India criticized: India has criticized the remarks, noting that the principle and power are at stake in both Ukraine and Taiwan.

What is mean by Vassalisation?

  • The term vassalisation refers to a state or country that is in a subordinate or dependent relationship with another, usually more powerful, state or country.
  • It suggests a lack of independence and autonomy in decision-making and an obligation to follow the policies and interests of the more powerful state.

Important trends highlighted by the debate on the vassalisation of Europe and Russia

  1. Different perspectives on Taiwan and Ukraine
  • Macron’s claim on Taiwan not being a concern to Europe reinforces India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s criticism of Europe’s mindset that their problems are the world’s problems.
  • The Ukraine conflict has debilitating consequences for the world, and a shooting war between the US and China over Taiwan could be more devastating and costly to the international system.
  • Macron’s contradictory approach to the Indo-Pacific is disappointing, and his wavering resolve on China may lead Asian countries to think less of French resolve.
  1. Macron does not represent all of Europe
  • President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has a different take on China than Macron.
  • Central Europeans trust the US more than France or Germany to defend their security interests.
  • Europe is deeply divided on how to address contemporary security challenges, undermining Macron’s ambition to turn Europe into the world’s third superpower.
  • The only common belief in Europe today is the political faith in Beijing’s capacity to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.
  1. A weaker and divided Europe enhances the prospects for a bipolar world
  • Multipolarity has been an important objective of India’s foreign policy for over three decades.
  • The talk of multipolarity could become academic as the US and China pull way ahead of other powers, get deeper into confrontation, and shape the choices of the rest of the world.
  • The belief that Europe and Russia can act as elements of a multipolar world is becoming increasingly untenable.
  1. India’s possibilities in Europe and Russia
  • Delhi should not turn its back on Europe despite its current predicament with China.
  • Macron’s China push underlines India’s own possibilities in Europe.
  • Western Europe that follows the money in China could do the same in India, providing much strategic benefit to India in its partnerships with Brussels and individual European actors.
  • India is stepping up its engagement with Russia on the calculation that Moscow’s current dependence on Beijing is temporary.
  1. India needs to work more closely with the US and its Asian allies
  • The inability or unwillingness of both Russia and Western Europe to balance China means India needs to work much more closely with the US and its Asian allies to secure a more favourable balance of power in its Indo-Pacific neighbourhood.
  • India’s strategic value will only go up for the US amidst the European reluctance to stand up to China’s hegemonic ambitions.
  • Few countries in Asia face more urgent and daunting challenges from China than India, and few Asian capitals have more political will to stand up to Beijing than Delhi.
  • The reduced standing of Europe and Russia in great power relations is accompanied by Asia’s rise, with emerging strategic opportunities for Japan, India, and South Korea.

Europe-China relations

  • Europe-China relations have been complex and multi-faceted over the years: On the one hand, China is Europe’s second-largest trading partner, and there is a lot of economic interdependence between the two. On the other hand, there are concerns about human rights violations, lack of market access for European companies in China, and China’s increasing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Some important developments include
  • The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI): Negotiated in December 2020, the CAI is a landmark investment deal between the EU and China aimed at improving market access for European companies in China and increasing investment flows between the two regions. However, the agreement has been met with criticism from some EU member states and civil society groups, who argue that it does not do enough to address human rights abuses in China.
  • Increasing concern over Chinese human rights abuses: Europe has been increasingly critical of China’s human rights record, particularly in the wake of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and the treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. The EU has imposed sanctions on Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses, and there is growing support for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
  • Growing competition in the Indo-Pacific region: Europe is becoming more engaged in the Indo-Pacific region, which is seen as a key area of strategic competition between China and the US. Some EU member states, such as France and Germany, have developed their own Indo-Pacific strategies and are seeking to deepen security partnerships with countries in the region.
  • Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): China’s massive infrastructure project, the BRI, has raised concerns in Europe about China’s growing influence in the region. Some EU member states, such as Italy and Greece, have signed on to the initiative, while others have been more cautious.

Facts for prelims

Category

Information

Location East Asia
Capital Taipei
Population 23.58 million (2021)
Official language Mandarin Chinese, Hokkien, Hakka, and indigenous languages
Currency New Taiwan dollar
Form of government Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
Topography Mountainous with fertile plains in the west
Climate Subtropical

Conclusion

  • Macron’s comments on China have sparked debates about Europe and Russia’s relationship with China and the US. A weaker and divided Europe enhances the prospects for a bipolar world dominated by the US and China, which makes it important for India needs greater engagement with European geopolitics and to work closely with the US and its Asian allies to secure a more favorable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region.

Mains Question

Q. What do you understand by mean vassalisation in terms of international politics? Discuss the latest trends that have emerged from the debate on the vassalisation of Europe derived from French president Macron’s recent comments on China.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-Italy Flourishing Relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-Italy Bilateral relations

Italy

Central Idea

  • The recent summit between Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Italy and India. It also marked a significant turning point in the relations between the two countries, as they have established a strategic partnership for the first time.

Italy

Highlights of the current visit of PM Meloni

  • Now strategic partners: India and Italy have decided to elevate the ties to the level of strategic partnership and identified defence as one of the areas where they can start a new chapter.
  • Boost to startups: The meet led to the establishment of a ‘Startup Bridge’ between India and Italy.
  • Bilateral defence exercise: Another important area of mutual cooperation is defence. They also decided to organise joint military exercises and training courses on a regular basis.
  • Enhance people’s mobility: India and Italy also signed a Declaration of Intent on migration and mobility and inked a memorandum of understanding between Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, and Italian Consulate General; and Morarji Desai Institute of Yoga and Sarva Yoga International, Italy.

India-Italy Flourishing Partnership

  • Bilateral Trade: Italy and India have intensified their collaboration in recent years, resulting in a record figure of around 15 billion euros in 2022, doubling the figure recorded in 2020.
  • Five-Year Action Plan: In 2020, a five-year action plan was adopted with a well-defined range of priorities including energy transition, food processing, advanced manufacturing, creative industry, and infrastructure.
  • Multilateral Initiatives: Italy has joined all the multilateral initiatives promoted by India, from the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to the Coalition for Disaster Relief Infrastructure (CDRI), to the International Solar Alliance.
  • Cultural Collaboration: Italy and India have enhanced their collaboration in the cultural field, from the heritage front to the creative industry, including fashion, design, cinema, etc.
  • Scientific Research and Technology: The partnership between the two countries has registered the launch of 13 new joint projects in scientific research and technology.
  • Mobility: In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the flow of Indian students and workers in Italy, where an Indian community that exceeds a figure of 2,00,000 is already actively operating in the Italian economy.
  • Health Sector: During the pandemic, Italy and India collaborated by exchanging experiences and practices, with humanitarian initiatives and promoting joint research projects.
  • Strategic Partnership: The Joint Declaration approved in the last summit affirms the commitment of the two governments to develop a strategic partnership that will also focus on sectors such as defence, cybersecurity, space, and energy.
  • Indo-Pacific and Enlarged Mediterranean: A connection was identified between the Indo-Pacific and the enlarged Mediterranean where Italy is a front-line player in terms of energy security, investments, and commerce.
  • Support for G20 Presidency: Italy offered full support to the Indian Presidency of the G20, contributing around issues that were at the centre of Italy’s G20 Presidency in 2021.
  • Ukraine Conflict: Italy and India will be engaged in trying to find a cessation of the conflict in Ukraine.
  • European-Indian Strategic Partnership: Both the Prime Ministers expressed their commitment to enhancing the European-Indian strategic partnership and their support for the ongoing negotiations for Free Trade Agreements and agreements on investment protection and geographical indication protection.

What makes Italy a crucial partner for India?

  • Economic Cooperation: Italy is one of the largest economies in the European Union and is home to several global corporations. India has a growing economy, and both countries have strong economic ties.
  • Trade and Investment: Italy is the 13th largest investor in India with around 700 Italian companies having a presence in India. Italian companies are investing in various sectors in India, including infrastructure, energy, automotive, and textiles.
  • Cultural Ties: India and Italy share a rich cultural heritage, and their cultural ties go back centuries. Both countries have a long history of art, literature, music, and architecture. Italy is known for its classical art, and India is renowned for its rich cultural diversity.
  • Strategic Cooperation: Both have a shared vision of a multi-polar world order, and are committed to promoting peace and security. Both countries work closely on global issues such as climate change, counter-terrorism, and UN reform.
  • People-to-People Contacts: Italy and India have a significant number of people-to-people contacts, with a large Indian diaspora in Italy. There are over 150,000 people of Indian origin living in Italy, and they contribute significantly to the cultural, social, and economic fabric of the country. The growing tourism sector is also promoting more significant people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

Italy

Conclusion

  • The strategic partnership between Italy and India is based on respect for international law, freedom of navigation, and territorial integrity. It aims to strengthen bilateral relations and focus on sectors such as defence, cybersecurity, space, and energy. In these challenging times, the two countries aim to give a strong impulse to their relations based on the common recognition of the value of true friendship and solidarity.

Mains Question

Q. What are the key highlights of the recent visit of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to India, and how does it mark a significant turning point in the relations between Italy and India? Also Discuss the factors that make Italy a crucial partner for India.


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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India -Sweden: Flourishing Partnership

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India Sweden Bilateral relation

Central Idea

  • This year marks 75 years of bilateral relations between India and Sweden, and it is an occasion to celebrate. Bilateral trade has reached unprecedented levels in the past year, with Swedish companies making significant strides in the Indian market. The latest Indian administration has shown a keen interest in augmenting and broadening the partnership between the two countries.

The Past and Present: Bilateral Relations between India and Sweden

  • Sweden and India have come a long way in the past 100 years.
  • From limited contacts to a flourishing partnership, both countries have developed national wealth through industry and manufacturing. Swedish companies have been key drivers in both domains, and through their work, Sweden and India have found friends in one another.
  • In 2023, Sweden is celebrating the anniversaries of Ericsson, SKF, Alfa Laval, and Volvo, notable Swedish companies in India.

Celebrating 75 Years of Friendship

  • Record bilateral trade: India and Sweden celebrated a record year for bilateral trade in 2022, with Swedish companies experiencing strong growth in India.
  • Flourishing partnership: Both countries are committed to expanding their partnership and collaborating in innovation, green transition, energy, health, industry policy and more.

Emphasizing the Importance of Industry and Manufacturing

  • Key sectors: Industry and manufacturing are key to building long-term economic growth, and Sweden and India have identified these sectors as key areas of collaboration.
  • Swedish companies have been key drivers: An active industry policy necessitates partnerships and taking bold steps, and Swedish companies have been key drivers in industry and manufacturing in India for several decades.

Prioritizing Green and Sustainable Practices

  • Commitment to green supply chain: The future belongs to green and sustainable practices, and both Sweden and India are committed to socially and environmentally sustainable practices throughout the entire supply chain.
  • Green transition and digitalisation: There is a clear commitment to this vision from governments and businesses alike, with a focus on digitalisation, the green transition, and the industry of the future.

Way ahead: Opportunities for Even Closer Ties

  • There are opportunities for even closer ties between India and Sweden, including a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and India.
  • The European Union presidency offers a chance to explore this possibility, which would have a positive impact on economic and industrial exchange, particularly in cities like Pune where Swedish companies have a strong presence.

Conclusion

  • The partnership between India and Sweden has come a long way in the past 75 years. Both nations have identified industry and manufacturing as key to building long-term economic growth, and there is a need to deepen work towards socially and environmentally sustainable practices.

Mains Question

Q. Discuss the key areas of collaboration between India and Sweden in the context of their 75-year bilateral relationship?


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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-EU Free Trade Agreement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-EU FTA

Agreement

Context

  • The third round of negotiations of the India-European Union (EU) free trade agreement concluded recently. The two sides are also negotiating an investment protection agreement (IPA), which will contain investment protection standards and an independent mechanism to settle disputes between investors and states under international law.

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Why EU is seeking Investor Protection Agreement?

  • Regulatory troubles in India: Notwithstanding the laudable intent of the government to welcome them, foreign investors in India have often got into numerous regulatory troubles with the state.
  • Investors have sued India: Several foreign corporations like Vodafone, Cairn Energy, Nissan, White Industries, Telenor, Nokia, Vedanta have sued India to enforce the rights guaranteed to them in bilateral investment treaties (BITs). This is the main motivation behind the EU seeking an IPA with India.
  • India’s past of unilaterally changing the laws: EU investors can rely on Indian law for protection. But Indian law can be unilaterally changed to the detriment of the investor.
  • Slow Judicial process: The Indian judiciary is agonisingly slow in resolving disputes. Thus, the longing for protection under international law.

Agreement

What are the hurdles finalization INDIA-EU treaty?

  • Non-justiciable tax regulations: India wants to push taxation measures outside the scope of the treaty by making tax-related regulatory measures non-justiciable. The EU has difficulty accepting this proposition given the recent history of India’s tax-related investment disputes with Vodafone, Cairn Energy, and Nissan.
  • Two tier court system: The EU’s investment proposal to India talks of creating a two-tier court-like system with an appellate mechanism and tenured judges to resolve treaty disputes between investors and the state.
  • EU’s proposal of MIC: This proposal is connected to the EU’s stand internationally for creating a multilateral investment court (MIC), negotiations for which are going on at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). The MIC is aimed at overcoming the weaknesses of the current arbitration-based system of settling investor-state disputes.
  • Lack of clarity from India’s side: India’s position on creating an investment-court-like system is unknown. India hasn’t publicly contributed to the ongoing negotiations at UNCITRAL towards establishing a MIC.

What is the issue of MFN and FET?

  • EU wants the MFN status: The EU’s investment proposal contains a most favoured nation (MFN) provision to ensure that EU investors do not face discrimination vis-à-vis other foreign investors.
  • India don’t want to include MFN: On the other hand, India’s position is not to include the MFN provision in its investment treaties because of the apprehension that foreign investors will use the MFN clause to indulge in disruptive treaty shopping. The solution to such disruptive treaty shopping is to negotiate for a qualified MFN provision and not exclude it altogether.
  • Fair equitable treatment: EU investment proposal contains what is known as a fair and equitable treatment (FET) provision, which is missing in the Indian 2016 Model BIT.
  • Making the state liable: The FET provision protects foreign investors, for example, by making the states liable if it goes back on the specific assurances made to an investor to induce investments on which the investor relied while making the investment.

Why IPA is need of the hour?

  • FDI is stagnant: Overall FDI to India has stagnated for the past decade at around 2 per cent of the GDP. In the case of the EU, while its share in foreign investment stock in India increased from €63.7 billion in 2017 to €87.3 billion in 2020, this is way below the EU foreign investment stocks in China (€201.2 billion) or Brazil (€263.4 billion).
  • Negative Impact of BIT terminations: Recent research shows that India’s decision to unilaterally terminate BITs has negatively impacted FDI inflows to India.
  • IPA needed to attract FDI: India needs the IPA with the EU to attract FDI for achieving the aspirational milestone of becoming a $10-trillion economy by 2030.

Conclusion

  • India needs to put its own house in order. India should review the 2016 Model BIT, as has also been recommended by the Parliament’s standing committee on external affairs.

Mains Question

Q. What is the investor protection scheme and why EU wants to include IPA in Free Trade Agreement with India? what are the hurdles in FTA between EU and India?

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

The case of India-UK Free Trade Agreement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Free Trade Agreements

Mains level: Indias FTA's and frameworks and its significance

 Free Trade Agreement

Context

  • To achieve the export target of $2 trillion by 2030, India is going the whole hog on free trade agreements (FTAs). India is negotiating FTAs with countries such as the European Union, Canada, the U.K., and Israel.

Importance of FTA

  • FTA include multiple trade aspects: FTAs cover a wide array of topics such as tariff reduction impacting the entire manufacturing and the agricultural sector; rules on services trade; digital issues such as data localization; intellectual property rights that may have an impact on the accessibility of drugs; and investment promotion, facilitation, and protection.
  • Great impact on economy and society: Consequently, an FTA has a far-reaching impact on the economy and society. Given this, one legitimately expects transparency and greater scrutiny of the FTA process both during and after the negotiations.

Free Trade Agreement

What are the problems with Indian FTA negotiations?

  • Lack of transparency in negotiations: India negotiates most FTAs behind closed doors with very little information about the objectives and processes followed and negligible scrutiny.
  • No robust framework for FTA negotiations: This is not the case in other countries with whom India is negotiating such an FTA. In the U.K., for example, there are several robust mechanisms that foster a certain degree of transparency in the FTA negotiations. Furthermore, there are institutional apparatuses that enable the scrutiny of the actions of the executive, during and after the signing of the FTA.

Free Trade Agreement

Case study of FTA framework in U.K

  • Detailed information on FTA’s: Department of International Trade (DFIT), U.K., publishes a policy paper laying down the strategic objectives behind negotiating an FTA and why it is important for the U.K. to have an FTA with a particular country. This policy paper is fairly detailed listing the specific advantages of signing an FTA such as the economic gains expected, distributional impacts, the environmental impact, and the labour and human rights dimensions of the FTA.
  • Inputs from stakeholders: The policy paper that the DFIT publishes also contains the inputs and responses received by various stakeholders such as businesses, non-governmental organizations, and others. Furthermore, the policy paper also explains the government view on specific suggestions
  • FTA scrutiny by parliament: In the U.K., the strategic objectives identified by the government for signing an FTA are scrutinized by the U.K. Parliament. This job is performed by the International Agreements Committee (IAC) of the British Parliament. The IAC hears expert witnesses on the FTA, critically examines the government’s strategic objectives for each FTA under negotiation, and offers key recommendations wherever it finds gaps in the government’s approach. The U.K. government then responds to these recommendations.
  • Parliament has to ratify the FTA: In the U.K, under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act, 2010, the executive has to lay down a treaty before the British Parliament for 21 sitting days with an explanatory memorandum before ratifying it. This allows Parliament to be apprised of the treaty the executive is going to ratify.

 Free Trade Agreement

The contrast case of India’s FTA

  • No publicly produced document in India: In India, no such document is produced publicly that makes a case for signing an FTA and assessing its impact on the environment and society at large. The Commerce Ministry the nodal body dealing with FTAs on its website provides the bare minimum information about FTA negotiations.
  • No record of discussion with the stakeholders: Seemingly, the Commerce Ministry also undertakes stakeholder consultations and inter-ministerial meetings but there is no public record of these discussions and the government’s response to the concerns of stakeholders.
  • No parliamentary scrutiny: In India, there is no mechanism for such parliamentary scrutiny of the executive’s actions during the FTA negotiations. India’s parliamentary system allows for department-related parliamentary committees that discuss various topics of importance and offer recommendations. However, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce (PSCC) rarely scrutinises the Indian government’s objectives behind negotiating and signing an FTA.
  • No role for parliament to ratify the FTA: In India, there is no mechanism for any role of Parliament in the ratification of treaties including FTAs. Entering into treaties and matters incidental to it such as negotiations, signing and ratification are within the constitutional competence of Parliament. But, Parliament in the last seven-plus decades has not exercised its power on this issue, thus giving the executive unfettered freedom in negotiating, signing, and ratifying treaties including FTAs.

Recommendations for Improving the India’s FTA framework

  • Publicise the objectives of FTA: India should take a leaf out of the U.K. book and develop a law on entering treaties including FTAs. This law should have the following parts. The executive should make a clear economic case outlining its strategic objectives publicly for entering into negotiations for a treaty such as an FTA.
  • Mandatory consultation with all stakeholders: The executive should be under an obligation to consult all stakeholders, respond to their concerns and make this information publicly available.
  • Dedicated parliamentary committee to scrutinize the FTA: The Indian Parliament should constitute a committee on the lines of the U.K.’s IAC that will scrutinise the strategic objectives behind entering into an FTA.
  • Mechanism to ratify the FTA by parliament: The executive should place the FTA on the floor of Parliament for a certain duration, allowing Parliament to debate it, before ratifying it.

Conclusion

  • While the executive’s constitutional prerogative of entering into an FTA or international treaties, in general, is indisputable, this power should be exercised in a manner that makes the executive answerable. After all, an integral facet of democracy is to hold the executive to account for its actions. It should be no different for negotiating international treaties including FTAs.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-UK Relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Free trade agreement

Mains level: Bilateral ties, Strategic partnership

Context

  • The year 2022 is significant for both India and the UK as our country commemorates the 75th anniversary of its Independence and the two celebrate 75 years of bilateral ties.
  • India-UK relations were elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2021, based on a shared commitment towards democracy, fundamental freedoms and multilateralism.

Background of the India-UK ties

  • Partnership: The historical legacy has its own imprint on the relationship. But what is truly remarkable is the broad range of partnerships that have evolved between the two countries, transcending trade, investment and strategic affairs.
  • Close ties: This broader partnership between the world’s fifth and sixth largest economies has its foundations on three critical aspects: education, common law system and the increasingly influential role and impact of the Indian diaspora in the UK.
  • Shared values: The India-UK partnership is based on shared values, respect for the rule of law and common law, and institutional integrity protected by democratic institutions in the both the countries.

What progress has been made in the India-UK relationship?

1.Economic: During 2019-20, trade between the two countries stood at US$ 15.45 billion with the balance in favor of India. Between April 2021-February 2022, Indian exports to the UK stood at US$ 9.4 billion (2.5% of India’s exports). The imports in the corresponding period were US$ 6.59 billion (1.2% of India’s imports). There is a scope for significant improvement. Both countries expect that the bilateral trade can reach US$ 100 billion by 2030.

2.Defense and Security: India and the UK signed the Defence and International Security Partnership (DISP) in November 2015. It provides a strategic roadmap and direction to the evolving India-UK Defence Relations. At present some 70 companies in the UK supply goods for aircraft and related equipment besides supporting platforms like the Jaguar, Mirage and Kiran aircraft.

3.Indian Diaspora: Around 1.5 million people of Indian origin live in Britain. Indian diaspora are making significant contributions to the British Society. This includes 15 Members of Parliament, three members in Cabinet, and two in high office as Finance and Home Ministers.

4.Education: The UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) was launched in 2005. A new ‘UKEIRI Mobility Programme: Study in India’ was also launched in 2019. Under this Britain’s universities collaborate with Indian partners and send UK students to India.

5.Health: The successful partnership between Oxford University, AstraZeneca and SII on COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated the potential of Indian and UK expertise working together to solve international challenges. The two sides are also working on pandemic preparedness, Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), digital health, Ayurveda and alternative medicines, as well as health worker mobility.

What is the significance of India-UK Relationship?

1.Regional and global issues of mutual interest: A healthy relationship between the two is imperative for enhancing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, Afghanistan, UNSC, G20 and Commonwealth. For instance, India welcomed the UK’s accession in the Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative under the Maritime Security pillar.

2.Tackling Climate Change: The cooperation between them can be helpful to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and in implementing the Glasgow Climate Pact. For instance, the countries have agreed to work for early operationalisation of the Global Green Grids-One Sun One World One Grid Initiative (OSOWOG) under ISA. They are also working on the IRIS platform under CDRI which was jointly launched by India and UK at COP26.

3.Supporting 3rd World Countries: Through the Global Innovation Partnership, India and UK have agreed to co-finance up to £ 75 million to support the transfer and scale up of climate smart sustainable innovations to third countries. The novel GIP Fund created under this Partnership will also aim to raise additional £ 100 million from the market to support Indian innovations.

3.Strategic Considerations: India can engage with the UK to counter China’s rise in the Indian Ocean Region. The UK on other hand can use India as an alternative destination to China and its companies can invest in India as part of China plus one strategy. It is the business strategy to avoid investing only in China and diversify business into other countries.

Challenges in India-UK relations

1.BREXIT

  • Impact on Diaspora– Many members of Indian Diaspora in Britain had voted against BREXIT because it is likely that Indian IT Professional in Britain will face tough competition when UK will open up its border for more skilled migration.
  • Impact on Indian Companies in UK– A hard Brexit would inevitably impact more than 800 Indian companies in UK in crucial sectors of British economy Indian. But data has shown that companies are increasing investments in the UK and creating many thousands of new jobs. This demonstrates that, Brexit or no Brexit, India supports Britain.
  • Impact on India-EU Relations –With €72.5 billion worth of India-EU trade and €19.4 billion of India UK trade at stake, all partners needed to think through this issue carefully in the business and commercial context. Brexit seems to be a challenge to the India EU strategic partnership but India would need to learn to manage its relations with the EU without UK
  • Impact on Trade–Forging a Free Trade Agreement with India will not be a priority for UK as it leaves EU. Instead, Britain would initially focus on tackling existing barriers to trade. But India should grab the opportunity to fill the trade gap in UK, post-Brexit.

2.Visas and Immigration

  • Illegal Migration: There are more than 1 lakh illegal Indian immigrants in UK. Britain has started putting pressure on Indian government to ensure that Indians who have no right to remain in UK be sent back to India
  • Latest Measures: On the other hand, a white paper on post-Brexit visas and immigration strategy has been unveiled. It is expected to benefit Indian students and professionals, with a focus on skills rather than country of origin. An annual cap of 20,700 on the number of skilled work visas issued will also be removed.

3.Terrorism

  • In the context of Brexit, unlike the United States’ contemporary view, India continues to be hyphenated with Pakistan in London’s outlook.
  • India states the fact that bilateral relations went beyond the economic realm to issues such as security and terrorism were not being heeded in Britain, despite continuous efforts by India over the past decades.

4.Totalization agreement

  • The UK government has also made it mandatory for people to pay a health care surcharge as part of their immigration application.
  • When employees are there for a short term as part of their work, it is important that they get to keep their hard-earned money rather than giving UK thousands of pounds of free money as social security taxes.
  • Therefore, it is important for UK and India to sign the totalization agreement at the earliest.
  • The totalization agreement with the UK would have exempted Indian professionals who are working for a certain period of time in the UK from paying those social security taxes if they are paying such taxes in India.

Way forward

  • The historical baggage also needs to be addressed cooperatively to diminish the possibility of hindrance in future cooperation.
  • The India-United Kingdom are dynamic democracies and the world’s leading economies with impressive advancements in human resources, manufacturing, innovation, research, education, space, defence, green technologies, and clean energy, among other areas.
  • This relationship can be utilized for the betterment of the fields and more collaborations should be undertaken.

Conclusion

  • As we celebrate the historic collaboration between the UK and India in producing the Covishield vaccine, and look forward to the much-awaited signing of the bilateral Free Trade Agreement, we should not lose sight of the tremendous power that transnational university-wide collaborations can leverage in the accord. Education, research and knowledge partnership ought to become the centre-piece of the India-UK relationship at 75, as we move forward.

Mains question

Q.Analyse India-UK bilateral relations with scope of upscaling and challenges they need to overcome .

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-EU Relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Green strategic partnership

Mains level: EU–India Cooperation Agreement, Strategic Partnership

Context

  • While India celebrates its 75th year of Independence, it also celebrates 60 years of diplomatic relations with the European Union (EU).
  • A cooperation agreement signed in 1994 took the bilateral relationship beyond trade and economic cooperation.

Definition

  • Relations between the European Union and the Republic of India are currently defined by the 1994 EU–India Cooperation Agreement. The EU is a significant trade partner for India and the two sides have been attempting to negotiate a free trade deal since 2007.

Common roadmap and shared vision

  • The road map highlights engagement across five domains: foreign policy and security cooperation; trade and economy; sustainable modernisation partnership; global governance; and people-to-people relations.

 

Brief history

  • India-EU relations date to the early 1960s, with India being amongst the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the European Economic Community.
  • At the 5th India-EU Summit at The Hague in 2004, the relationship was upgraded to a ‘Strategic Partnership’.
  • The two sides adopted a Joint Action Plan in 2005 (which was reviewed in 2008) that provided for strengthening dialogue and consultation mechanisms in the political and economic spheres, enhancing trade and investment, and bringing peoples and cultures together.

What is strategic partnership?

  • A ‘strategic partnership’, as the term suggests, involves a shared understanding between the two or more states involved on the nature of threats in the environment and the place of their collective power in helping mitigate the threats.

Why they are important?

  • As the world’s two largest democracies, the EU and India share a commitment to protecting and promoting human rights, a rules-based global order, effective multilateralism, sustainable development and open trade.

Significance

[A] Political Partnership

  • The Joint Political Statement signed in 1993, opened the way for annual ministerial meetings and a broad political dialogue.
  • The Cooperation Agreement signed in 1994 took the bilateral relationship beyond trade and economic cooperation.
  • A multi-tiered institutional architecture of cooperation has since been created, presided over by the India-EU Summit since 2000.
  • Today EU stands as a major reference for India’s legislative process in the field of Data security and privacy.

[B] Economic Ties

  • Bilateral trade: The EU is India’s largest trading partner, while India is the EU’s 9th largest trading partner. It is the second-largest destination for Indian exports after the United States.
  • Investment: The EU’s share in foreign investment inflows to India has more than doubled from 8% to 18% in the last decade. This makes the EU an important foreign investor in India.
  • Preferential treatment: India is the benefactor of the unilateral preferential tariffs under the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP).
  • Energy: Both sides have finalised civil nuclear cooperation agreement after 13 years of negotiations called as the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). It involves collaboration in the civil nuclear energy sector.
  • Development cooperation: Over €150 million worth of projects by EU are currently ongoing in India. European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing loans for Lucknow, Bangalore, and Pune Metro Projects.

[C] Defence & Security

  • EU and India have instituted several mechanisms for greater cooperation on pressing security challenges like counterterrorism, maritime security, and nuclear non-proliferation.
  • 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).

[D] Climate Change

  • EU and India also underline their highest political commitment to the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC despite US withdrawing from the same.
  • India-EU Clean Energy and Climate Partnership was agreed at the 2016 Summit – to promote access to and disseminate clean energy and climate friendly technologies and encourage R&D.
  • Energy cooperation is now ongoing on a broad range of energy issues, like smart grids, energy efficiency, offshore wind and solar infrastructure, and research and innovation.
  • EU and India also cooperate closely on the Clean Ganga initiative and deal with other water-related challenges in coordinated manner.

[E] Research and Development

  • India-EU Science & Technology Steering Committee meets annually to review scientific cooperation.
  • Both have official mechanisms in fields such as Digital Communications, 5G technology, Biotechnology, artificial intelligence etc.
  • ISRO has a long-standing cooperation with the European Union, since 1970s. It has contributed towards the EU’s satellite navigation system Galileo.

Future scope

  • Trade figures and Investments: Bilateral trade between the two surpassed $116 billion in 2021-22. The EU is India’s second largest trading partner after the U.S., and the second largest destination for Indian exports.
  • Job creation: There are 6,000 European companies in the country that directly and indirectly create 6.7 million jobs.
  • Green strategic partnership: between India and Denmark aims to address climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, and the India-Nordic Summit focused on green technologies and industry transformation that are vital for sustainable and inclusive growth.
  • Energy security: Energy serves as an important aspect of the relationship between India and the EU. Given the impacts of climate change, this aspect has become extremely crucial today. Both entities have been pursuing cooperation for the joint development of clean energy.
  • Political cooperation: India and the EU may benefit from increasing cooperation in the resolution of issues such as terrorism and radicalization, cyber-security, coordinating on certain key and relevant aspects of foreign policy, and other humanitarian issues.
  • International support: It is crucial that Europe recognize India as a partner for peace that is committed to human rights, both regionally and internationally.

Challenges before them

  • Deadlock over BTIA: The negotiations for a Broad-based Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) were held between 2007 to 2013 but have remained dormant/suspended since then.
  • Export hurdles: Indian demands for ‘Data secure’ status (important for India’s IT sector) to ease norms on temporary movement of skilled workers, relaxation of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS), etc. stands largely ignored.
  • Trade imbalance: This heavily leans towards China. India accounts for only 1.9% of EU total trade in goods in 2019, well behind China (13.8%).
  • Brexit altercations: In the longer term of balancing of global powers, a smaller Europe without the key military and economic force UK, is much weaker in the wake of an ambitious China and an increasingly protectionist US.
  • EU primarily remains a trade bloc: This has resulted in a lack of substantive agreements on matters such as regional security and connectivity.
  • Undue references to sovereign concerns: The European Parliament was critical of both the Indian government’s decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in 2019 and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
  • China’s influence: EU’s affinity lies with China. This is because of its high dependence on the Chinese market. It is a major partner in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Ukrainian war: EAM S. Jaishankar’s witty reply about EU’s oil import from Russia has not been welcomed across the EU. It still expects India to criticize Russia.

EU’s interests in India

  • Reducing dependence on China: It is necessary for both sides as it is making them highly vulnerable to Chinese aggression.
  • Western lobby: EU acknowledges its supply chain’s vulnerability, the risk posed by overdependence on China, and the need to strengthen the global community of democracies.
  • Healthcare: The on-going pandemic has shown the need for cooperation in global health. India and the EU have called for a reform of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • Perception of India as a huge market: EU still largely perceives India as huge market rather than a partner.
  • Promotion of multilateralism: Both sides are facing issues related to US-China trade war and uncertainty of the US’ policies. They have common interest in avoiding a bipolarised world and developing a rules-based order.

India’s stakes in EU

  • Global leadership vacuum: Retreat of the U.S. from global leadership has provided opportunities for EU- India cooperation and trilateral dialogues with countries in the Middle Fast, Central Asia, and Africa.
  • Chinese Aggression: China’s increasing presence in Eurasia and South Asia is creating similar security, political and economic concerns for Europe and India.
  • Fall of the conventional global order: Trade war, crumbling WTO and break down of TPP etc. has made EU understand the economic importance of India.
  • BREXIT: Brexit is pushing India to look for new ‘gateways’ to Europe, as its traditional partner leaves the union. A renewed trade and political cooperation are the need of the hour.
  • Conformity over Indo-Pacific: The Indo-Pacific is the main conduit for global trade and energy flows. Rule-based Indo-pacific is of everyone’s interest with EU no exception.

Way forward

  • A close bilateral relation between India and the EU has far-reaching economic, political and strategic implications on the crisis-driven international order.
  • Both sides should realise this potential and must further the growth of the bilateral ties with a strong political will.
  • As highlighted by EU strategy on India 2018, India-EU should take their relations beyond “trade lens”, recognizing their important geopolitical, strategic convergences.
  • India can pursue EU countries to engage in Indo-pacific narrative, geo-economically if not from security prism.

Mains question

What do you understand by the term strategic partnership? India and EU are celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations trace their journey with significance and challenges in their ties.

 

B2BASICS

About European Union (EU)

  • The EU is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
  • The union and EU citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993.
  • The EU grew out of a desire to strengthen international economic and political co-operation on the European continent in the wake of World War II.
  • It has often been described as a sui generis political entity (without precedent or comparison) with the characteristics of either a federation or confederation.
  • The eurozone consists of all countries that use the euro as official currency. All EU members pledge to convert to the euro, but only 19 have done so as of 2022.

Members of the EU

  • Through successive enlargements, the European Union has grown from the six founding states (Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) to 27 members.
  • This entails a partial delegation of sovereignty to the institutions in return for representation within those institutions, a practice often referred to as “pooling of sovereignty“.
  • In the 2016 ‘Brexit’ referendum, the UK voted to leave the EU. The UK officially left the EU in 2020

 

Mains question

What do you understand by the term strategic partnership? India and EU are celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations trace their journey with significance and challenges in their ties.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

The challenge for Middle Powers like India, France and Germany

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Challenges for the middle powers

Context

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to European capitals should help both sides acquire a better understanding of each other’s security concerns. Whether it will fundamentally alter equations remains to be seen.

New India-EU equation

  • As “Middle Powers”, countries like France, Germany and India should seek policy space for themselves and not be forced into taking positions by the Big Powers — the United States, China and Russia.
  • The EU is understandably concerned about Russian aggressiveness in Europe.
  •  ndia is equally concerned about Chinese aggressiveness in Asia. 
  • Even after Russia has sought to tear down the post-Cold War security structure in Europe, India has stayed the course in its equations both with Russia and the European Union.

Division of national and group agenda and its implications for India

  • While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the context in which Modi visited Europe and the head of the European Union visited India, the fact is that the agenda at bilateral meetings with individual European countries has generally been very different from the agenda that the EU prefers to focus on.
  • While individual European nations, especially Germany and France, focus on their own strategic and business interests, including defence equipment sales, the EU retains the remit for negotiating trade and investment rules.
  • Problem for India: This division of national and group agendas has often posed a problem for India because individual countries cannot offer bilateral market access in exchange for bilateral defence deals.
  • So the French will sell Rafale jets in the name of strategic partnership but they cannot offer a trade and investment deal that Brussels will not allow Paris to strike with India.
  • While the EU and G7 may now wish to derisk, if not decouple, from aggressively rising China, how much they would be able to do in this regard and what they would be willing to do to help a slowly rising India remains to be seen.

Way forward

  • For India’s part, it is not clear at the moment how much and what it can unilaterally offer Europe beyond the promise of standing up to China or reducing dependence on Russia.
  • Challenge for the three middle powers lies in combine their “strength and stability” to ensure “peace and tranquillity” in their respective neighbourhoods.
  • If middle powers like Brazil, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa and others can work together they may well be able to impose some discipline on the three big powers — China, Russia and the US.

Conclusion

At a time when big powers lurking behind in seeking to stabilise and shape the global order middle powers need to act to balance the influence exerted by the big powers.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

How a trade deal with EU could shape up?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-EU Trade Relations

After signing comprehensive economic and trade agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Australia, India has stepped up efforts to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU).

What is a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)?

  • A FTA is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them.
  • Under a free trade policy, goods and services can be bought and sold across international borders with little or no government tariffs, quotas, subsidies, or prohibitions to inhibit their exchange.
  • The concept of free trade is the opposite of trade protectionism or economic isolationism.
  • Countries often agree to FTAs if their economic structures are complementary, not competitive.

India-EU Trade Ties

  • The EU is India’s third largest trading partner, accounting for 11.8% of India’s total trade in 2020-21, after the US (12.61%) and China (12.59%).
  • It is India’s second-largest export destination after the US.
  • India is the EU’s tenth largest trading partner, accounting for 1.8% of the EU’s total trade in goods in 2020.
  • The EU is also a major source of FDI in India. Between April 2000 and March 2021, FDI flows from the EU to India totalled $88.32 billion.

How would the FTA help India?

  • It will help Indian exporters gain competitive advantage in the EU markets while helping domestic manufacturers get cheaper access to imports from the EU.
  • India’s major exports to the EU include mineral fuels, mechanical appliances, electrical and electronic machineries, organic chemicals, automobiles and auto components, pharmaceuticals, precious stones, and iron and steel products.
  • The untapped export potential for India in the seven major markets of the EU—Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, and Switzerland—is around $26.8 billion.

Why is the FTA important for the EU?

  • After Brexit, the EU is trying to clinch trade deals to diversify supply chains and find profitable exporting destinations for European companies.
  • The EU is looking for a large market as intra-EU trade remains stagnant and trade with the UK shrinks because of new institutional trade barriers.
  • The FTA with India will also help the EU reduce trade ties with Russia.

What are the key stumbling blocks?

  • A major point of contention has been the EU’s demand for  reduction in India’s tariff rate.
  • Earlier talks did not resolve issues involving trade in agriculture and services, digital trade, intellectual property rights, and commitments on sustainable development issues such as environmental, social, and labour rights.
  • Visa requirements and work permits for Indian workers to the EU have been a major bone of contention.
  • Restrictions on transfer of personal data from the EU to other countries is a barrier for trade in digital services.

What is the likelihood of an agreement?

  • The two sides have set the ball rolling on the FTA.
  • The president of the European Commission recently agreed to establish a trade and technology council to deliberate on data protection regulations and strengthening digital trade between India and the EU.
  • PM Modi’s recent visit to three key EU member countries is expected to further reinvigorate the FTA talks.

Also read

[Burning Issue] India-EU Relations

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-Denmark relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India-Europe Trade and Technology Council

Mains level: Paper 2- India-Europe engagement

Context

As Russia, isolated by unprecedented Western sanctions, deepens its alliance with China, Europe has begun to loom larger than ever before in India’s strategic calculus. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Berlin, Copenhagen, and Paris this week could give us a glimpse of India’s post-Russian strategic future in Europe.

Engagement with collective Europe

  • In her visit to Delhi, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von Der Leyn, unveiled the new contours of the EU’s strategic partnership with India by launching the India-Europe Trade and Technology Council. 
  • This week, the focus is on India’s key bilateral partnerships with European majors — Germany and France — as well as a critical northern corner of Europe, the so-called Norden.
  • Having built up a significant engagement with Moscow over the decades, India and Germany are under pressure to disentangle from the Russian connection.
  • Modi and Scholz could also exchange notes on how their long-standing illusions about China came crashing down.
  • Macron’s return to power in France offers a good moment for Modi to imagine the next phase in bilateral relations.
  • For some time now it has been said that France is India’s “new Russia” — Delhi’s most important strategic partner.
  • In recent years, France has emerged as a strong defender of India’s interests in the United Nations Security Council and a regional ally in the vast Indo-Pacific theatre.
  • France has also been a major supplier of advanced arms to India.
  • But Delhi and Paris have been some distance away from demonstrating full possibilities of their defence partnership.
  • There is no doubt that Western Europe has moved from the margins to the centre of India’s foreign and security policies.
  • The crisis in Ukraine, which has shattered the regional order that emerged in 1991, intensifies the imperatives for deeper strategic cooperation between India and its European partners.

India’s engagement with smaller European countries

  • In Copenhagen, the bilateral talks with Danish leadership are about Delhi finally finding time for the smaller European countries.
  • The Nordic summit hosted by Denmark underlines India’s discovery of the various sub-regions of Europe — from the Baltics to the Balkans and from Iberia to Mittleuropa.
  • The Nordic Five — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden — have a population of barely 25 million but their GDP at $1.8 trillion is greater than that of Russia.
  • Two members of the Nordic five — Sweden and Finland — are now rushing to end their long-standing neutral status and join NATO.
  • The other three — Denmark, Iceland, and Norway — have been founding members of NATO, set up in 1949.
  • Listening to the Nordic leaders might help Delhi appreciate the deeply-held fears about Russia among Moscow’s smaller neighbours.
  • In Copenhagen, Modi would want to build on the unique bilateral green strategic partnership with Denmark.

Germany and India’s engagement with Russia

  • Berlin is tied far more deeply to Russia than India.
  • Germany’s annual trade with Russia is about $60 billion while India’s is at $10 bn.
  • Germany relies heavily on Russian natural gas, while Russian arms dominate India’s weaponry.
  • Irrespective of their Russian preferences, Germany and India have no option but to live with circumstances over which they have no control.
  • Opportunity for India: Making India an attractive new destination for German capital, now under pressure to reduce its exposure to Russian and Chinese markets, should be the highest priority for PM Modi.
  • Germany is one of India’s oldest economic partners, but the full potential of the commercial relationship has never been realised.
  • If there ever was a moment to think big about the future of German trade and investment in India, it is now.

Conclusion

A new paradigm is beckoning India — strong commercial and security partnerships with Europe that stand on their own merit and bring the many synergies between them into active play.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Making the most of the diplomatic attention

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India as a key architects of a new international order

Context

India has witnessed a flurry of diplomatic activity during the past week with a long line of ministers, senior military officers and diplomats from a number of countries visiting Delhi and engaging with their Indian counterparts.

Highlights of this year’s Raisina Dialogue

  • The senior-most official and inaugural speaker was Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
  • The European presence was prominent.
  • China and Russia were absent from among official delegates, which is a pity.
  • The European presence was prominent. China and Russia were absent from among official delegates.
  • The focus narrowed down to the Ukraine war and, more specifically, India’s posture on Russia’s increasingly brutal assault on the hapless people of Ukraine.
  • It fell to the external affairs minister to deflect the expectations of India on this score.

What should be India’s approach toward West?

  • India will need the West more than it has in the recent past, whether in building up its deterrent capabilities or accelerating its own economic and technological transformation.
  • India’s Quad partners the US, Japan, Australia, its partners in Europe and several ASEAN countries, see India as an anchor that could help stabilise the international situation.
  • They have a stake in India emerging as an influential power and are willing to contribute to that end.
  • The temptation to indulge in criticising each other should be avoided.

Why India should recalibrate its ties with Russia?

  • Assumptions about Russia-China ties: A key assumption in India’s Russia policy has been that as a great power, Moscow would be unlikely to accept a junior partnership with China.
  • It was also assumed that in the long run, Russian and Chinese interests would not be aligned and, therefore, India should maintain a close relationship with Moscow.
  • Even if the Ukraine war had not erupted, the February 4 Sino-Russian Joint Declaration should have led India to question the continuing validity of these assumptions.
  • There are valid legacy reasons for maintaining positive ties with Russia just as some European countries have had to do.
  • The reality is that India-Russia relations are not a continuation of the old Indo-Soviet ties.
  • That strategic partnership that helped India cope with the Cold War and the Chinese and Pakistani threats evaporated with the end of that war and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • Moscow no longer saw Beijing as its main security challenge but for India, China became a bigger challenge.
  • Marginal economic and trade relations: India’s economic and trade relationship with Russia has become increasingly marginal.
  • Defence relationship diminishing progressively: Even the defence hardware relationship has diminished progressively as India has rightly tried to diversify its sources of supply.
  • The legacy in this respect, too, is of diminishing relevance.
  •  India may have its issues with the existing order but what is envisaged in the Joint Declaration is not the alternative which would enhance India’s interests.

Way forward for India

  • Remain engaged with Russia and China: In a shifting geopolitical landscape, it is in India’s interest to remain engaged with Russia and China as two leading powers in the world.
  • Such engagement is important to gauge how these powers are themselves adjusting to the changing geopolitical equations across the world.
  • The US has shaken off the taint of its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan but its domestic politics is unpredictable and this calls for caution.
  • Europe will likely emerge as a more coherent and cohesive entity, anchored in German power, and playing a role more independent of the US than hitherto.
  • Deepen partnership with Europe: All the more reason why India must deepen its all-round partnership with Europe, build a shared vision of an altered geopolitical landscape and encourage Europe to play a greater role in the Indo-Pacific.

Conclusion

The attention being paid to India is substantive. A rare but perishable opportunity has presented itself to significantly advance India’s long-term prospects. It must be grasped with single-minded tenacity.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-UK relations: A new shine to old ties

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-UK ties

Context

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosts British premier Boris Johnson this week in India, the moment is ripe to turn the expansive new possibilities — in trade, investment, high technology, defence, and regional cooperation— into concrete outcomes.

Background of the India-UK ties and  paradoxes

  • Legacies of colonialism: The bitter legacies of colonialism had made it impossible for the two sides to pursue a sensible relationship in the past.
  • India’s post-colonial engagement with Britain has been riddled with multiple paradoxes.
  • 1] India’s post-post colonial resentment and UK’s claim for special role: Delhi’s lingering post-colonial resentments and London’s unacceptable claim for a special role in the Subcontinent generated unending friction.
  • The consequences of Partition and the Cold War made it harder for Delhi and London to construct a sustainable partnership.
  • The important role played by the US: It was the US that first recognised India’s rapidly-growing relative weight in the international system.
  • At the turn of the millennium, Washington unveiled a policy of assisting India’s rise.
  • This was based on a bipartisan American consensus that a stronger India will serve US interests in Asia and the world.
  • Over the last two decades, it has led to a quick transformation of US relations with India.
  • 2] Washington is setting the pace for Delhi’s relationship with London:  At the dawn of Independence, India saw London as the natural interlocutor with an unfamiliar Washington.
  • Today it is Washington that is setting the pace for Delhi’s relationship with London.
  •  3] China’s role in shaping India’s relations with the West: For Washington, the strategic commitment to assist India’s rise was rooted in the recognition of the dangers of a China-dominated Asia.
  • London in the last two decades was moving in the other direction — a full embrace of Beijing.
  • Once the American deep state decided to confront Chinese power in the late 2010s, London had to extricate itself from the Chinese Communist Party’s powerful spell.
  • As the US unveiled a new Asian strategy, Britain followed with its own “Indo-Pacific tilt” that helped secure the region against China’s muscular policies.
  • 4] Historic tilt towards Pakistan: Unlike the US and France, which are committed to an “India first” strategy in South Asia, Britain remains torn between its new enthusiasm for India and the inertia of its historic tilt towards Pakistan.
  • But India is confident that Pakistan’s relative decline in the region is bound to make it a less weighty factor in India’s bilateral relations with Britain.
  • The question of Pakistan brings us to the fourth paradox—the domestic dynamics of Britain that have tended to sour ties with India.
  • Delhi has figured out that the interconnected politics of India and Britain — shaped by the large South Asian diaspora of nearly four million — can be cut both ways.
  • 5] Making best of historic ties:  If the Tories are romantic about the Raj, nationalists in India bristle at the British imperial connection.
  • Yet, together they are constructing a new relationship between India and Britain.

Better outlook for bilateral ties

  • As the two sides make a determined effort to transcend the paradoxes, the regional and international circumstances provide a new basis for mutually beneficial engagement.
  • Over the last couple of years, Delhi and London have begun a promising and pragmatic engagement devoid of sentiment and resentment.
  • Having walked out of Europe, Britain needs all the partners it can find and a rising India is naturally among the top political and economic priorities.
  • Delhi meanwhile has become supremely self-assured in dealing with London.
  • With the Indian economy set to become larger than Britain’s in the next couple of years, Delhi is no longer defensive about engaging Britain.
  • Even more important, Delhi recognises the value of a deep strategic partnership with London.

Conclusion

The UK has a significant international military presence and wide-ranging political influence. Realists in Delhi are trying to leverage these British strengths for India’s strategic benefit.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

A good foreign policy must also make a difference at home

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Building blocks of India's foreign policy

Context

This is the edited excerpts from the lecture delivered by India’s External Affairs Minister at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi on March 24.

Relevance of foreign policy at personal level

  • Through a good foreign policy, our everyday needs from the world must be better met.
  • And since we are a collective as a country, our national security must be assured.
  • Foreign policy being the link to the outside, it should enable us to draw what we seek.
  • This could be in terms of technology or capital, best practices, or even work opportunities.
  • And obviously, we would all like to be strong; we would like to look good and we would like to feel appreciated.

Recent instances in which India’s foreign policy directly influence the common man

  • Through Operation Ganga, Indian students stuck in Ukraine were brought home.
  • It was the result of intervention by India’s foreign policy apparatus at the highest levels in Russia and Ukraine to ensure the ceasing of fire for safe passage.
  •  When the first wave of Covid hit India in 2020, we scrambled across the world to secure PPEs, masks and ventilators.
  • And we did so in a seller’s market as the demand far exceeded supply.
  •  The second wave in 2021 saw a similar spike in demand for oxygen and specialised medicines from abroad.
  • Locating, negotiating and contracting supplies became the priority for Indian diplomacy. And it bent its back to deliver.

Influence of foreign policy at the collective level

  • When it comes to security, external or internal, diplomacy could be a preventive, a mitigator or a problem-solver.
  • It can help raise awareness of a shared threat, just as it can find partners against common dangers.
  •  And then there is the economy, with its search for investment, technology and best practices.
  • In each of these sectors, foreign relationships can accelerate India’s progress.
  • And cumulatively, they expand employment and improve your quality of life.
  • It also matters to all of us what other nations think of India, our culture and our way of life.

Role of foreign policy in delivering on development

  • The most effective foreign policy is one that delivers on development.
  • In Asia, all modernising economies have single-mindedly focused their external interactions on obtaining capital, technology and best practices from abroad.
  • It may be information technology or auto manufacturing, food production or food processing, metros or bullet trains, space capabilities or nuclear energy; the fruits of foreign collaboration are there today for all of us to see.
  • Newer challenges like green growth and climate action have started to open up still more possibilities.
  • All this happens because of our ability to identify, engage, negotiate and leverage opportunities of interest abroad across many many domains.

Building blocks of India’s foreign policy

  • The six broad objectives that were spelt out to the policy-makers and implementers were clear.
  • 1] Shaping global perception: We must bring about a change of thinking in the world about us.
  • 2] Partnership on equal terms: The partnerships we should create should be on more equal terms, and with smaller countries, more generous.
  • 3] Shaping the global agenda: The global agenda and the big issues of our times should be shaped by India as much as possible.
  • 4] Leveraging foreign policy for domestic progress: Foreign relationships should be actively explored and leveraged for domestic development and progress.
  • 5] People-centric foreign policy: The very conceptualisation of foreign policy should be more people-centric.
  • 6] Our culture, traditions and thoughts should percolate our own articulation as well as influence international debates and initiatives.
  • Yoga and Ayurveda were obvious examples in this regard.

Conclusion

As we mark 75 years of independence, Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, there is good cause to be confident about our prospects. But to be so, it is equally important to be aware of the opportunities and challenges that the world currently presents. And surely, we can be so once we appreciate how much foreign policy really matters.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

The significance of EU-India partnership in the Indo-Pacific

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Global Gateway initiative

Mains level: Paper 2- Indo-EU partnership in Indo-Pacific

Context

Europe and its key Indo-Pacific partners are joining forces to deliver a positive agenda for the region at the ministerial Forum to be held in Paris.

Importance of Indo-Pacific for EU

  • The issues at stake in this crucial region, including security challenges, are of concern to all EU countries.
  • EU unveiled EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific,  in September 2021.
  •  Europe can offer the countries of the region a sustainable, transparent model for preserving their sovereignty, and an alternative to other models, such as China’s.
  • Addressing the connectivity and infrastructure need: There are immense connectivity and infrastructure needs in the Indo-Pacific.
  • But these needs should not force the countries of the region into unsustainable dependencies.
  • The EU’s Global Gateway initiative unveiled in December 2021 hopes to address this by pooling the resources of the EU’s institutions and its 27 member states to raise 300 billion euros to build sustainable links.
  • India’s role: The EU and India have already concluded a Connectivity Partnership (last May in Porto), which can be a pillar of this wider initiative.
  • The Indo-Pacific is a crucial region for tackling global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity protection and health resilience. 
  • At the Forum, the EU will present the support it can provide to countries of the region, including in terms of green finance, to achieve their ecological transitions in a just manner.
  • The ministers will also discuss concrete steps to strengthen health sovereignty and promote the “One Health” approach to the pandemic response.

Role of France and India in the region

  • France, itself a nation of the Indo-Pacific, has a long-standing commitment to upholding the law of the sea in the region, particularly through our permanent naval presence and joint exercises, such as our annual “Varuna” drills with India.
  • In the fields of biodiversity protection and plastic pollution, France and India can act together to spur multilateral action, as exemplified by India’s decision to join the France-initiated international coalition to protect 30 per cent of the land and seas by 2030 (High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People).
  • Cooperation between France and India on protected areas and national parks can also be expanded at the Indo-Pacific scale.
  • At the forum, France will propose the creation of an Indo-Pacific health campus, to be established in India, to bring together India’s pharmaceutical prowess and Europe’s technological capacity for the benefit of the region.

Conclusion

In a world of growing tensions, the core goal of France’s EU Presidency is to strengthen Europe’s sovereignty and its ability to decide its own fate. This endeavour matches India’s fundamental aspiration for strategic autonomy.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

What is the Munich Security Conference (MSC)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Munich Security Conference

Mains level: NA

The latest edition of MSC a week ago assumed significance as it was here that the Ukrainian President appealed for help ahead of the Russian invasion.

Munich Security Conference

  • The Munich Security Conference is an annual conference on international security policy that has been held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany since 1963.
  • It brings together heads of state, diplomats and business leaders from the world’s leading democracies for three days of meetings and presentations.
  • It is the world’s largest gathering of its kind.
  • Over the past four decades the MSC has become the most important independent forum for the exchange of views by international security policy decision-makers.

How did it begin?

  • When the MSC was founded in 1963, it was envisioned as a way for leaders, mostly from the West, to discuss threats and dangers in an informal setting.
  • Most of the concerns at the time stemmed from the Cold War, which had dominated world politics for nearly a half-century.
  • Over time, the conference evolved into a platform for airing grievances and workshopping political agreements, some of them outside the realm of East-West relations.
  • In recent years, the conference has often invited leaders from authoritarian countries, and even adversaries, to speak.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Russian actions in Ukraine hardly pass the test for strategic victory

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Suwalki corridor

Mains level: Paper 2- Implications of Russia's actions in Ukraine

Context

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched “special military operations” with the objective of “demilitarising Ukraine” but not “occupying” it.

Why it was a crisis in the making?

  • Redrawing national boundaries by force: After 1945, this is the second time that national boundaries are being redrawn by force; the first was the 1999 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air strikes on Serbian forces that led to the creation of Kosovo.
  • Russian and Chinese protests about NATO undertaking “out of area operations” without United Nations Security Council approval carried little weight.
  • After the fall of the Berlin Wall in late-1989, then U.S. Secretary Of State had assured the Soviet President that “there would be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction one inch to the east”.
  • Rather than look for a new European security framework, the newly independent Baltic and central European states sought security in a U.S.-led NATO.
  • Beginning in 1999, NATO has added 14 new members in stages.
  • At the NATO summit in 2008, at U.S. President George Bush’s urging, an in-principle opening for Ukraine and Georgia was announced, though France and Germany, conscious of Russian concerns, successfully opposed defining a time frame.
  • Later that year, Russia intervened in Georgia on the grounds of protecting the Russian minorities and took over the northern provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
  • Annexation of Crimea:  In 2014 Mr. Putin annexed Crimea.
  • For Russia, Crimea is vital as the peninsula hosts Russia’s Black Sea fleet, providing it access to the Mediterranean and its bases at Latakia and Tartus in Syria.
  • Despite no timeline for membership, Ukraine was made a NATO Enhanced Opportunity Partner in 2020.
  • The presence of British and U.S. warships in the Black Sea began to increase.
  • In 2019, the U.K. entered into a cooperation agreement with Ukraine to develop two new naval ports, Ochakiv on the Black Sea and Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov, a move that Russia saw as potentially threatening.
  • Beginning with NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999, interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and colour revolutions to engineer regime changes, the U.S.’ unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002 coupled with missile defence deployments in Poland and Romania, Russia’s grievances were accumulating.

Faltering diplomacy

  • France and Germany initiated talks between Ukraine and Russia under the Normandy format leading to the Minsk agreements, in 2014 and 2015.
  • The first was for a ceasefire between Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists and the second was between Ukraine, Russia, the two separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
  • Supportive declarations by France and Germany were intended to address Russian security concerns.
  • Ukraine undertook to introduce certain constitutional amendments to provide a degree of autonomy to the two provinces and Russia was to assist in withdrawal of all foreign forces.
  • However, neither side implemented and positions have only hardened since.
  • Russia’s threatening moves made NATO members, especially the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and the central Europeans like Poland and Romania, especially nervous.
  • Finally, NATO remained united but unable to provide an off-ramps solution.

Implications for Russia

  • NATO has been rejuvenated, the trans-Atlantic unity strengthened and Russia’s economic ties with Europe have been adversely impacted.
  • Given Russia’s considerable foreign exchange reserves, of nearly $640 billion, sanctions imposed by the U.S. and EU may not hurt immediately but eventually will begin to bite both the oligarchs and the common people.
  • Worse, Russia will become more dependent on China — for political support as well as a market for its energy exports. 
  • This will eventually weaken its hand in central Asia.

Conclusion

For Mr Putin challenge is to constrain the adversary’s options while increasing one’s own options and space for manoeuvre. His actions this week may yield tactical gains but hardly pass the test for strategic victory.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Anchoring the United Kingdom economically to the Indo-Pacific

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: AUKUS

Mains level: Paper 2- India-UK relations

Context

January this year saw the formal launch of negotiations for an India-United Kingdom free trade agreement (FTA).

Momentum in India-UK engagement

  • Despite some potential challenges, there is a new momentum in the India-U.K. bilateral engagement these days with both sides confident of moving forward swiftly.
  • Greater role for UK in Indo-Pacific: Britain has made a trade pact with India one of its post-Brexit priorities as it seeks a greater role in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Brexit has necessitated greater access to non-EU markets, and the U.K.’s changing relationship with China requires a diversification of trading partners.
  • The FTA negotiations were aimed at achieving a “fair and balanced” FTA and cover more than 90% of tariff lines so as to reach the bilateral trade target of around $100 billion by 2030.
  • There have been indications that instead of the two nations trying to tackle all sensitive issues in one go, there could be an interim pact or early harvest deal.

UK’s Indo-Pacific strategy

  • India is at the heart of the U.K.’s Indo-Pacific ‘tilt’, which has generated considerable interest around the world.
  • A range of factors have contributed for the U.K. to adopt a more robust Indo-Pacific strategy:
  • a) the trading implications of Brexit;
  • b) the U.K.’s changing approach towards China — shifting from being a major proponent of China to perhaps the most hawkish in Europe;
  • c) and the fact that the U.S. remains firmly focused on the Indo-Pacific.
  • The U.K. recognizes the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific to global stability and prosperity and has made clear its intentions to deploy strategic assets to this end.
  • The trilateral security partnership AUKUS has given London a greater voice in the region.

Consider the question “Various factors have contributed towards enhanced India-UK engagement. Examine the factors and the possibilities it offered to the two countries.”

Conclusion

The U.K. is finally carving out a direction and purpose to its post-Brexit foreign policy and this prioritization has opened up a new window for New Delhi and London to quickly finalize their FTA. It is a unique “now or never” moment and the two sides seem willing to seize it despite the challenges.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-Britain free trade agreement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-UK FTA

Context

In May last year, Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson announced their shared vision for a transformative decade for the India-United Kingdom partnership. These words have now been made real.

Transforming India-UK partnership

  • Doubling bilateral trade: The two leaders had declared their ambition to more than double bilateral trade by 2030, which totalled over £23 billion in 2019.
  • Reduce barriers to trade: They directed their governments to take rapid steps to reduce barriers to trade.
  • FTA: The groundwork necessary to begin work on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) had to be prepared by the end of 2021.
  • Both governments have already taken action; for example, unlocking the export of British apples to India and enabling a greater number of Indian fisheries to export shrimp to the U.K.
  • The big next step was the launch of FTA negotiations last month.

Trade relations at present

  • Bilateral trade: The bilateral trade between the two countries stood at 15.5 billion USD in 2019-20. India has engaged with the UK in sectors like pharma, textiles, leather, industrial machinery, furniture, and toys.
    • Britain is among the top investors in India and India is the second-biggest investor and a major job creator in Britain. Recently, the Serum Institute of India has announced setting up its research facilities in the UK.
  • Indian Diaspora: Around 1.5 million people of Indian origin live in Britain. This includes 15 Members of Parliament, three members in Cabinet, and two in high office as Finance and Home Ministers.
  • India is already a big investor in the U.K. — especially in dynamic sectors such as fintech, electric vehicles, and batteries.
  • India has an extraordinary opportunity to transform its economy and society in the next 30 years, as it hits its demographic sweet spot, at the heart of the Indo-Pacific region where half the world’s people live and 50% of global economic growth is produced.

Benefits of FTA

  • A U.K.-India trade agreement will stimulate growth and employment in both countries. 
  • Lower barriers coupled with greater regulatory certainty would incentivize new small and medium-sized enterprises to export their goods and services.
  • An agreement also means Indian and British consumers see improvements in the variety and affordability of products.
  • Strategic reasons: The British Government’s Integrated Review of our overseas policy, describes the world we are in; messier, with the more geostrategic competition.
  • It is one in which two dynamic democracies such as India and the U.K. need to work closely together to promote open economies.

Consider the question “Colonial prism has long distorted the perception of India-UK relation. However, both the countries stand to gain by finding a fresh basis for sustaining bilateral relations. Comment.”  

Conclusion

An FTA would mark a new way of working between the U.K. and India. It gives a new framework within which the two countries can grow and flourish together, putting the colonial economic relationship where it belongs — in the history books.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India’s challenge in European geopolitics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NATO

Mains level: Paper 2- India-Europe relations

Context

For India, an important strategic priority today is to rebalance the Indo-Pacific. Delhi, however, recognises that this expansive challenge can’t be met by any one power, including the US. A larger European role in securing Asia therefore becomes critical.

Importance of Russia in balancing China

  • Peace with Russia in Europe might be necessary for America to focus on Asia has been the key motivation behind President Joe Biden’s decision to intensify engagement with Vladimir Putin in the last few months.
  • On the question of Ukraine’s membership of NATO, the US and its European allies have suggested that membership is certainly not imminent; but they are unwilling to say Ukraine will “never” be admitted.

Contradiction in Europe

  • 1] Europe remains geopolitically unstable: None of the three European settlements of the 20th century — in 1919 after the First World War, in 1945 after the Second World War, and in 1991 after the Cold War — has endured.
  • 2] The difficulty of integrating Russia into a European order: Russia was part of the great power system in Europe through the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • If the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution put Russia and the West at odds with each other, the collapse of the Soviet Union has not resolved the contradiction.
  • 3] Growing tension between the US and Europe: Since the Second World War, Europe has relied on the US for its security.
  • However, Europe has never stopped resenting the American dominance over its geopolitics.
  • The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has repeatedly objected to the US and Russia deciding the future of Ukraine over European heads.
  • But Russia does not take the EU seriously and is betting on negotiations with the US.
  • 4] Europe still remains a weak security actor:  While the EU has become a powerful economic entity (with its $17 trillion GDP), it remains a weak security actor.
  • Whatever might be the outcome from the gathering conflict over Ukraine, these European contradictions are not going to disappear any time soon.

Why Europe remains a weak security actor?

  • Dominance of the US and Russia: The ambition to construct a strong geopolitical personality for the EU is hobbled by divisions over the role of Russia and the US in the region.
  • Mutual suspicions: The historically rooted mutual suspicions among European states also plays role.
  • Reluctance to spend on defence: This is compounded by the reluctance to spend more on defence and the inability to develop collective defence arrangements outside of NATO led by the US.

Suggestions for India

  • The contradictions in Europe demand that Delhi discard its tendency to view the region through the “East versus West” binary.
  • Delhi today could profitably take a leaf out of the book of the Indian national movement.
  • In the late 18th century, as European powers competed for influence in the subcontinent, many Indian princes sought to take advantage of the contradictions between Britain and France.
  • Imperial Germany supported the formation of a nationalist government of India in Kabul in 1915 headed by Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh.
  • Eager to accelerate Indian independence during the Second World War, Netaji turned to Germany and Japan, the world’s newest great power.
  • The sharpening struggle for Indian independence, and more broadly the liberation of Asia between the two World Wars, inevitably involved exploiting the contradictions between different imperial powers.
  •  This was complicated, however, by rapid realignment among the major powers —friends became adversaries and enemies became allies.
  • The Indian and Asian national movements were deeply divided in coping with the shifting great power dynamic.
  • The world enters a similar moment today that could rearrange relations between the US, UK, Europe, Russia, China and Japan.

Consider the question “What are the contradictions in Europe today? How these contradiction can play role in India’s international relations with the European countries?”

Conclusion

Greater engagement with Europe and dealing with its multiple contradictions must necessarily be important elements of India’s international relations today.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

The EU’s role in the Indo-Pacific

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: AUKUS

Mains level: Paper 2- EU's role in Indo-Pacific

Context

Speedy development of the Quad comprising Australia, Japan, India and the U.S.; the emergence of AUKUS comprising Australia, the U.K. and the U.S.; and other alignments raise the question: where does Europe stand in relation to this churning?

Significance of EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy

  • Europe’s Asia connect is old, strong and multi-layered.
  • Since 2018, countries such as France, the Netherlands, Germany and the U.K. announced their specific policies towards the Indo-Pacific.
  • The announcement by the Council of the European Union of its initial policy conclusions in April, followed by the unveiling of the EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific on September 16, are notable.
  • Focus on security and development: The policy document also says cooperation will be strengthened in sustainable and inclusive prosperity, green transition, ocean governance, digital governance and partnerships, connectivity, security and defence, and human security.

Way forward for EU

  • Support France: The EU’s security and defence capabilities are quite limited, as compared to the U.S. and China.
  • To obviate an imbalance in favour of economic links, EU will need to give adequate space and support to France which has sizeable assets and linkages with the Indo-Pacific.
  • Coordination with UK: EU also must forge strategic coordination with the U.K. as the latter prepares to expand its role in Asia as part of its ‘Global Britain’ strategy.
  • Leverage economic power: As a major economic power, the EU has an excellent chance of success in its trade negotiations with Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand; economic partnership agreement with the East African Community; and in forging fisheries agreements and green alliances.
  • To achieve all this and more, EU must increase its readiness to share its financial resources and new technologies with partners.
  • Internally coordinated approach:Many states view China as a great economic opportunity, but others are acutely conscious of the full contours of the China challenge.
  • Russia next door is the more traditional threat. It is increasingly on China’s side.
  • Hence, the EU should find it easy to cooperate with the Quad.
  • AUKUS, endeavours by a part of the western alliance to bolster naval and technological facilities to deal with China should be welcome.

Way forward for India

  • India’s pivotal position in the region necessitates a closer India-EU partnership.
  • Early conclusion of an ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement and a standalone investment protection agreement will be major steps.
  • Cooperation in Industry 4.0 technologies is desirable.
  • Consolidating and upgrading defence ties with France, Germany and the U.K. should also remain a significant priority.

Conclusion

The EU can create a vantage position for itself in the Indo-Pacific by being more candid with itself, more assertive with China, and more cooperative with India.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-Eurasia Relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Integrated approach to Eurasia

Context

Delhi’s Indo-Pacific strategy has acquired political and institutional traction, thanks to intensive Indian diplomacy in recent years. It must now devote similar energy to the development of a “Eurasian” policy.

Need for Eurasian strategy and challenges

  • This week’s consultations in Delhi on the crisis in Afghanistan among the region’s top security policymakers is part of developing a Eurasian strategy.
  • National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has invited his counterparts from Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia, Russia, and China to join this discussion on Wednesday.
  • Pakistan has declined to join.
  • Pakistan’s reluctance to engage with India on Afghanistan reveals Delhi’s persisting problem with Islamabad in shaping a new Eurasian strategy.
  • But it also reinforces the urgency of an Indian strategy to deal with Eurasia.

Factors shaping India’s Eurasian policy

  • The most important development in Eurasia today is the dramatic rise of China and its growing strategic assertiveness, expanding economic power and rising political influence.
  • Beijing’s muscular approach to the long and disputed border with Bhutan and India, its quest for a security presence in Tajikistan, the active search for a larger role in Afghanistan, and a greater say in the affairs of the broader sub-Himalayan region are only one part of the story.
  • Physical proximity multiplies China’s economic impact on the inner Asian regions.
  •  These leverages, in turn, were reinforced by a deepening alliance with Russia that straddles the Eurasian heartland. Russia’s intractable disputes with Europe and America have increased Moscow’s reliance on Beijing.
  • Amidst mounting challenges from China in the Indo-Pacific maritime domain, Washington has begun to rethink its strategic commitments to Eurasia. 
  • Whether defined as “burden-sharing” in Washington or “strategic autonomy” in Brussels, Europe must necessarily take on a larger regional Eurasian security role.
  • More broadly, regional powers are going to reshape Eurasia.

What should be India’s approach to Eurasia

  • Like the Indo-Pacific, Eurasia is new to India’s strategic discourse.
  • To be sure, there are references to India’s ancient civilisational links with Eurasia.
  • While there are many elements to an Indian strategy towards Eurasia, three of them stand out.
  • Put Europe back into India’s continental calculus: As India now steps up its engagement with Europe, the time has come for it to begin a strategic conversation with Brussels on Eurasian security.
  • This will be a natural complement to the fledgling engagement between India and Europe on the Indo-Pacific.
  • India’s Eurasian policy must necessarily involve greater engagement with both the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
  • Intensify the dialogue on Eurasian security with Russia: While Indo-Russian differences on the Indo-Pacific, the Quad, China, and the Taliban are real, Delhi and Moscow have good reasons to narrow their differences on Afghanistan and widen cooperation on continental Eurasian security.
  • Indian collaboration with both Persia and Arabia: If Persia’s location makes it critical for the future of Afghanistan and Central Asia, the religious influence of Arabia and the weight of the Gulf capital are quite consequential in the region.
  • India’s partnerships with Persia and Arabia are also critical in overcoming Turkey’s alliance with Pakistan that is hostile to Delhi.

Challenges

  • Contradictions: India will surely encounter many contradictions in each of the three areas — between and among America, Europe, Russia, China, Iran, and the Arab Gulf.
  • As in the Indo-Pacific, so in Eurasia, Delhi should not let these contradictions hold India back.

Consider the question ” Eurasia involves the recalibration of India’s continental strategy. India has certainly dealt with Eurasia’s constituent spaces separately over the decades. What Delhi now needs is an integrated approach to Eurasia. In the context of this, examine the challenges in India’s engagement with Eurasia and suggest the elements that should form part of India’s strategy towards Eurasia.”

Conclusion

The current flux in Eurasian geopolitics will lessen some of the current contradictions and generate some new antinomies in the days ahead. The key for India lies in greater strategic activism that opens opportunities in all directions in Eurasia.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

EU, India and the Indo-Pacific

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EU

Mains level: Paper 2- EU Indo-Pacific strategy

Context

Last month, the EU released it “EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific”. This document is very rich and needs to be analysed in the context of the rapprochement between the EU and India, which culminated in the June EU-India summit, a “turning point” according to some analysts.

Important takeaways from EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy

  • The EU strategy in the Indo-Pacific appears to be over-determined by China’s expansionism.
  • “The display of force and increasing tensions in regional hotspots such as in the South and East China Sea and in the Taiwan Strait may have a direct impact on European security and prosperity,” the document says.
  • If security interests are highlighted in the beginning, they are rather low in the list of the objectives of the EU Indo-Pacific strategy, which are listed as: “Sustainable and inclusive prosperity; green transition; ocean governance; digital governance and partnerships; connectivity; security and defence; human security”.
  • Many paragraphs of the document are dedicated to values, including human rights.

India does not figure prominently in the policy document

  • In terms of partnerships, India does not figure very prominently.
  • By contrast, ASEAN is presented as “an increasingly important partner for the EU”.
  • However, India appears in the list of the countries which already have an Indo-Pacific strategy and with which the EU is interested in a deeper “engagement”, a list made of ASEAN, Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the UK and US.
  • However, the document does not mention the role India could play in value-chain diversification, a top priority of the EU since the Covid-19 pandemic in particular.
  • Yet, India is mentioned few pages later in a similar perspective when it is said that the EU will help “low and middle-income Indo-Pacific partners to secure access to the Covid-19 vaccine through the Covax facility and through other means”.
  • What the French see as India’s main asset, its strategic dimension, is not central in the EU document.
  •  India is listed as the EU’s first partner only in one area: “under the project Enhancing Security Cooperation in and with Asia (ESIWA), which covers counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, maritime security and crisis management.
  • The pilot partners are India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Vietnam, with EU military experts already operating in Indonesia and in Vietnam.”

Understanding the German influence on the policy document

  • Thus, the EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific is more in tune with the German vision of the Indo-Pacific than with the French one.
  • The fact that the German approach prevails in the EU document is a reflection of the influence of Berlin’s weltanschauung (worldview) in Europe — something Brexit has accentuated, Great Britain’s Indo-Pacific strategy being similar to France’s.
  • But China’s attitude may force Germany — and the EU — to change their mind in the near future.

Conclusion

By and large, the Indo-Pacific strategy of the EU remains driven by economic considerations and India, whose main asset is geopolitical and even geostrategic, does not figure prominently in it.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Europe as a valuable strategic partner

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: AUKUS

Mains level: Paper 2-Relations with EU

Context

Last week’s in-person summit in Delhi was with the Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen.

Europe as a valuable partner

  • Few Asian countries view Europe with strategic suspicion. Many in Asia see Europe as a valuable partner.
  • As the deepening confrontation between the US and China begins to squeeze South East Asia, Europe is widely seen as widening the strategic options for the region.
  • The perspective is similar in Delhi, which now sees Brussels as a critical element in the construction of a multipolar world.
  • Cultivate Europe: As External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar puts it, India’s strategy is to “engage America, manage China, cultivate Europe, reassure Russia, bring Japan into play”.
  • EU’s Strategy for India: The EU outlined a strategy for India in 2018 to focus on four themes — sustainable economic modernisation, promotion of a rules-based order, foreign policy coordination, and security cooperation.
  • At the summit in Portugal in May this year, the EU and India agreed to resume free trade talks and develop a new connectivity partnership that would widen options for the world beyond the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Rebalancing the international system: Above all, there is a recognition in both Delhi and Brussels that the India-EU strategic partnership is crucial for the rebalancing of the international system amidst the current global flux.

Possibilities with smaller European countries

  • Europe looms so large in the Indian diplomatic agenda today and smaller European states draw unprecedented political attention from Delhi.
  • That Denmark, a country of barely six million people, can establish a significant green partnership with India, is a reminder that smaller countries of Europe have much to offer in India’s economic, technological, and social transformation.
  • Luxembourg brings great financial clout, Norway offers impressive maritime technologies, Estonia is a cyber power, Czechia has deep strengths in optoelectronics, Portugal is a window to the Lusophone world, and Slovenia offers commercial access to the heart of Europe through its Adriatic sea port at Koper.
  • As India begins to realise this untapped potential, there are new openings with the 27-nation EU headquartered in Brussels.

EU’s important role in Indo-Pacific

  • The EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy is likely to have a much greater impact on the region more immediately and on a wider range of areas than military security.
  • Area’s of impact range from trade and investment to green partnerships, the construction of quality infrastructure to digital partnerships, and from strengthening ocean governance to promoting research and innovation.
  • Defence and security are important elements of the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy that “seeks to promote an open and rules-based regional security architecture, including secure sea lines of communication, capacity-building and enhanced naval presence in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Whatever the specific circumstances of the AUKUS deal and its impact on France, the US wants all its partners, especially Europe, to contribute actively to the reconstitution of the Asian balance of power.
  • Working with Quad: The EU strategy, in turn, sees room for working with the Quad in the Indo-Pacific, while stepping up security cooperation with a number of Asian partners, including India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Vietnam.
  • India is conscious that Europe can’t match America’s military heft in the Indo-Pacific.
  • But it could help strengthen the military balance and contribute to regional security in multiple other ways.

Consider the question “Delhi knows that Europe could significantly boost India’s capacity to influence future outcomes in the Indo-Pacific. It would also be a valuable complement to India’s Quad coalition”. Comment.

Conclusion

It was Russia that defined India’s discourse on the multipolar world after the Cold War. Today, it is Europe — with its much greater economic weight, technological strength, and normative power — that promises to boost India’s own quest for a multipolar world and a rebalanced Indo-Pacific.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Is there a role for India in divided AUKUS?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: AUKUS

Mains level: Paper 2- Role for India in issues over AUKUS

Context

France recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia in a diplomatic slap intended to convey its anger over a deal forged in secrecy that saw Paris lose a multi billion dollar submarine contract.

Depth and diversity of India’s relations

  • That Delhi today is a part of a difficult conversation between the US, UK, France, Europe, and Australia points to the growing depth and diversity of India’s relations with different parts of the West.
  • Popular and academic discourse on India’s foreign policy has been obsessed with the concept of “non-alignment” —was about keeping distance from the West as a whole.
  • India’s contemporary diplomacy, in contrast, takes a nuanced view of internal dynamics in the West, and recognises the political agency of individual states, and develops wide-ranging relationships with the Western nations.

Relations with France

  • Paris has always taken an independent view of the world, while remaining within the broad framework of the American alliance.
  •  In the 1990s, Paris championed the construction of a multipolar world to constrain American “hyperpower” but India did not join it.
  • The last few years, however, have seen an intensification of India’s strategic engagement with France.
  • For example, India has overcome the earlier reluctance to work with France on Indian Ocean security.

Engagement as collective and sub-region

  • The government has also stepped up on the political engagement with Europe as a collective as well as its sub-regions — from Baltics to the Balkans and from Iberia to Mitteleuropa.
  •  As India discovers that every European nation, from tiny Luxembourg to a rising Poland, has something to offer, Europe has become a thriving hub of India’s international relations.

Relations with the UK

  • Due to the bitter colonial legacy, relations between India and UK have always been underdeveloped.
  • In the last couple of years, India has made a determined effort to build a new partnership with Britain, which is the fifth-largest economy in the world, a leading financial hub, a technological powerhouse, and punches well above its weight in global affairs.

Relations with “Anglosphere”

  • India’s neglect of London also meant Delhi had no time for the “Anglosphere” that binds the UK to Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
  • Many had presumed that the Anglosphere was irrelevant — AUKUS, however, is a reminder that Anglo-Saxon political bonds endure.
  • Instead of treating the Anglosphere with scepticism, India has begun to vigorously engage with the “settler colonies” that have so much to offer India — from natural resources to higher education and critical technologies.
  • The UK and its settler colonies have long been the preferred destination for the Indian diaspora (besides the US).
  • Leveraging diaspora politics: While the diaspora tends to connect the domestic politics of the Anglosphere with that of India, Delhi is figuring out that the diaspora politics can be played both ways.

Relations with Japan and Australia

  • The transformation of India’s relations with Australia has occurred despite entrenched scepticism in the foreign policy bureaucracy.
  • Finally, Japan has been a part of the West in the post-War era and Delhi’s relations with Tokyo have never been as rounded as they are today. They are also fellow members of the Quad.

Way forward for India

  • This wide-ranging engagement with the West should help Delhi convey two important messages to its partners this week.
  • Not undermining the larger goal: India needs to remind France, Australia, the UK and US of the shared interests in securing the Indo-Pacific and the dangers of letting the current quarrel undermine that larger goal.
  • Effective deterrence in Indo-Pacific: The other is to highlight the region’s vast requirements for effective deterrence in the Indo-Pacific;
  • And that there is enough room for the US, UK, France, and Europe to collaborate with Indo-Pacific partners in overlapping coalitions to develop high technology and defence-industrial cooperation in all the areas highlighted by AUKUS — effective underwater capabilities to AI, quantum computing and cyber warfare.
  • Deeper cooperation: India’s interests lie in deeper strategic cooperation with France and Europe as well as the Quad and the Anglosphere.

Conclusion

India’s diverse relationships in the West must be deployed in full measure to prevent a split in the Indo-Pacific coalition.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

EU’s vaccine travel pass discriminates against low-income countries

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Green Pass

Mains level: Paper 2- Issues with vaccine travel policies

Context

The introduction of Covid-19 vaccines has opened up opportunities to help revive travel. However, it is important to carefully design policies that help revive travel demand.

Vaccine certificates

  • Many countries like China and Israel have introduced vaccine certificates that ease the process of entering and travelling across the destination country for vaccinated travellers.
  • Can encourage discriminatory treatment: Though these certificates can ensure trade facilitation, they can potentially act as a trade barrier if they encourage discriminatory treatment.
  • The recent and the most contentious issue in this regard is the European Union’s “Green Pass” scheme.

Issues with European Union’s Green Pass

  • Through this vaccine certificate, the European Commission intends to remove travel restrictions such as entry bans, quarantine obligations and testing.
  • Only 4 vaccines listed: The EU has listed only four vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the pass: Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty, Moderna’s Spikevax, Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen.
  • It makes travellers from countries administering alternate vaccines ineligible for certification.
  • When it was launched, the policy did not even allow AstraZeneca’s Indian-manufactured vaccine, Covishield.
  • Against COVAX policy: This goes against the policy of COVAX, which has categorically stated that such measures would effectively create a two-tier system and would negatively impact the growth of economies that are already suffering the most.
  • Discriminatory against low-income countries: Vaccine doses administered per 100 people is 1.4 for low-income countries as compared to 93.2 for high-income countries.
  • This makes travellers from low-income countries ineligible to avail these certificates.
  • As per estimates based on information from the WHO, countries not administering any of the EMA-approved vaccines account for at least 14 per cent of the vaccinated population.
  • These lie mostly in low and middle-income countries, including India.
  • Harms domestic sector: Nationals from many of these countries also serve in the hospitality industries in countries across the world, including Europe.
  • With this exclusion criteria, an indirect cost burden is put on their domestic service sectors that are already reeling due to the pandemic.
  • Against globalisation policy: With such discriminatory intervention, the EU policy does not go well with the globalisation policy of collective welfare.

Steps to boost vaccine production

  • Covid vaccine makers across the world have created a platform, led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, to connect with key raw material suppliers needed for boosting production.
  • In a recent declaration, WTO members have agreed to review and eliminate unnecessary existing export restrictions on essential medical goods needed to combat the pandemic.

Way forward

  • Cooperate on vaccine production: To achieve the desired goal, countries need to cooperate on vaccine production to accelerate the global vaccination process.
  • Remove restrictions and trade barriers: Accelerating global vaccine production makes lifting trade barriers on raw materials for vaccine production critical.
  • The two relevant bodies, WHO and WTO, should also work together to sort out selective criteria for international movement.

Conclusion

Developed countries should refrain from discriminatory international travel policies against low-income countries and focus on increasing vaccine production to close the vaccination gap at the global level.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

EAM hands over relics of 17th century Georgian Queen St. Ketevan to Georgia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Black Sea mapping

Mains level: India-Georgia ties

After a long-standing request of Georgia, External Affairs Minister handed over the holy relics of 17th century Georgian Queen St. Ketevan nearly 16 years after they were found in Goa.

Who was St. Ketevan?

  • Queen Ketevan was a 17th century Georgian Queen.
  • From Kakheti, a kingdom in eastern Georgia, she was tortured and killed in 1624 in Shiraz during the rule of the Safavid dynasty.
  • Portuguese missionaries were said to have carried the relics to Goa in 1627.
  • In 2005, after years of research and study of medieval Portuguese records, the relics were found at the St. Augustine Church in Old Goa.

Importance of Georgia for India

  • Georgia a strategically important country situated at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
  • Relations between Georgia and India date back to ancient times.
  • The Panchatantra influenced Georgian folk legends. During the medieval period, Georgian missionaries, travelers, and traders visited India.
  • Some Georgians served in the courts of Mughal emperors, and a few rose to the rank of governor.
  • India was among the first countries to officially recognize Georgia, doing so on 26 December 1991.
  • India is a net exporter to Georgia.
  • The main commodities exported by India to Georgia are cereals, nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances, pharmaceuticals, electrical machinery and equipment, aluminium and aluminium articles.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Consider the following pairs:

Sea Bordering Country
1. Adriatic Sea Albania
2. Black Sea Croatia
3. Caspian Sea Kazakhstan
4. Mediterranean Sea Morocco
5. Red Sea Syria

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched? (CSP 2019)

(a) 1, 2 and 4 only

(b) 1, 3 and 4 only

(c) 2 and 5 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India and EU relaunch FTA talks, sign connectivity partnership

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BTIA

Mains level: Paper 2- Talks on India-EU trade agreement resumed

Resumption of FTA

  • Prime Minister of India interacted virtually from Delhi with EU chiefs.
  • India and the European Union agreed to relaunch free trade negotiations by resuming talks that were suspended in 2013 for the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).
  • The talks had run into trouble over market access issues, and tariffs by India on products like wine, dairy and automotive parts, as well as EU resistance over visas for Indian professionals.
  • In addition, Indian government’s decision to scrap all Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) in 2015 posed hurdles for new EU investments in India.

Connectivity Partnership document

  • The EU-India leaders adopted a Connectivity Partnership document.
  • The India-EU connectivity partnership committed the two sides to working together on digital, energy, transport, people to people connectivity.
  • The partnership is seen as a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and comes as the EU’s negotiations with China on their Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) have run into trouble.
  • The contract for the second tranche of $150 million from the EU for the Pune Metro rail project was also signed.

No EU support for Covid-19 vaccine waiver

  • India failed to secure the support of the European leaders for patent waivers for Covid vaccine.
  • The support of a major bloc like the EU is crucial to passing the resolution at the WTO by consensus.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-UK Relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-Britain relations

The article highlights the factors that make building sustainable partnership with Britain hard for India and suggests the ways to find fresh basis for bilateral relationship.

Need to tap potential for bilateral strategic cooperation

  • The long-scheduled summit between Prime Ministers of India and UK will take place with a digital conversation scheduled for Tuesday.
  • India and the UK must tap into the enormous potential for bilateral strategic cooperation in the health sector and contributions to the global war on the virus.
  • Foreign ministers of India, Japan and Australia would also join this meeting to set the stage for the “Group of Seven Plus Three” physical summit next month hosted by the British Prime Minister.

Challenges in forming a sustainable partnership with Britain

  • Few Western powers are as deeply connected to India as Britain.
  • While India’s relations with countries as different as the US and France have dramatically improved in recent years, ties with Britain have lagged.
  • One reason for this failure has been the colonial prism that has distorted mutual perceptions.
  • The bitter legacies of the Partition and Britain’s perceived tilt to Pakistan have long complicated the engagement between Delhi and London.
  • Also, the large South Asian diaspora in the UK transmits the internal and intra-regional conflicts in the subcontinent into Britain’s domestic politics.

Finding fresh basis for bilateral relationship

  • The two leaders are expected to announce a 10-year roadmap to transform the bilateral relationship that will cover a range of areas.
  • Both countries are on the rebound from their respective regional blocs.
  • Britain has walked out of the European Union and India has refused to join the China-centred Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
  • Although both will continue to trade with their regional partners, they are eager to build new global economic partnerships.
  • While remaining a security actor in Europe, Britain is tilting to the Indo-Pacific, where India is a natural ally.
  • India needs as wide a coalition as possible to restore a semblance of regional balance.
  • Britain could also contribute to the strengthening of India’s domestic defence industrial base.
  • The two sides could also expand India’s regional reach through sharing of logistical facilities.
  • Both countries are said to be exploring an agreement on “migration and mobility” to facilitate the legal movement of Indians into Britain.
  • Both sides are committed to finding common ground on climate change.

Consder the question “What are the factors that introduce friction in the sustainability of India’s bilateral relations with the Britain? Identify the areas in which both the countries can find fresh basis for the bilateral relations?”

Conclusion

If leaders of both the countries succeed in laying down mutually beneficial terms of endearment, future governments might be less tempted to undermine the partnership.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy

The Council of the European Union approved conclusions on a European Union strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

Aim:

  • To reinforce its strategic focus, presence and actions in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • To contribute to regional stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development at the time of “rising challenges and tensions in the region.”

Rationale:

  • The current dynamics in the Indo-Pacific have given rise to:
    • Intense geopolitical competition
    • Increasing tensions on trade and supply chains
    • Challenges in technological, political and security areas
    • Issues related to Human rights
  • As per the EU, these developments threaten the stability and security of the region and beyond, directly impacting on its interests.

Strategy by European Union:

  • Increased cooperation in the Indo-Pacific
  • Commitment to uphold democracy, human rights, the rule of law and respect for international law.
  • Promote effective rules-based multilateralism
  • Support for ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations)
  • Work to mitigate economic and human effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Support open and fair environment for trade and investment
  • Tackling climate change and supporting connectivity with the EU
  • Conclude free trade agreements with Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand
  • Take steps towards the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with China
  • Deepen economic relations with India
  • Develop partnerships in the areas of security and defence
  • Address maritime security, malicious cyber activities, disinformation, emerging technologies, terrorism, and organised crime
  • Extend the geographic scope of its CRIMARIO (Critical Maritime Routes) IIactivities from the Indian Ocean into South and Southeast Asia to contribute to safer sea lanes of communication with the EU.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Why the Indo-Pacific has assumed significance for Europe after the pandemic

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: RCEP

Mains level: Paper 2- Asia-EU engagement

The article highlights Asia’s growing significance in the wake of the pandemic. This is underscored by Europe’s meaningful engagement with Asia which is based on an understanding of the region’s geopolitical and economic significance.

Asia’s rise

  • The pandemic has upended many certainties. But it has reinforced one major trend in global politics: The rise of Asia.
  • The region’s rise has created three Asias.
  • First, there is the familiar Asia of businessopen, dynamic, interconnected.
  • Second, an Asia of geopolitics, with ever-starker nationalisms, territorial conflicts, arms races and Sino-American rivalry.
  • Lastly, we have an Asia of global challenges.
  • These three Asias are also marked by 3 dynamics:
  • 1) Geopolitical rivalries that threaten free trade.
  • 2) The fight against the pandemic is mutating into a systemic competition between democracy and authoritarianism.
  • 3) And frenzied economic growth is fuelling climate change.

European strategy for Indo-Pacific

  • Germany together with France and the Netherlands, have commenced work on a European strategy for the Indo-Pacific.
  • The strategy seeks cooperation with all countries of the region: For open economies and free trade; for the fight against pandemics and climate change; and for an inclusive, rules-based order.
  • Such a European strategy for the Indo-Pacific must take all three Asias into account.
  • Europe is a key trading, technology and investment partner for many countries of the region.
  •  The EU recently concluded groundbreaking free trade agreements with Japan, Singapore and Vietnam that set environmental and social standards.
  • In late 2020, the countries of East and Southeast Asia signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, encompassing one-third of the global economy.
  • It is time for the EU to swiftly conclude the ongoing negotiations on trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand – and to move forward with negotiations with Indonesia and India.

Reducing dependencies

  • Following the above policies, Europe will also reduce dependency and following the principle of diversification.
  • Together with its Indo-Pacific partners, Europe can set standards for new technologies, human-centred digitisation and sustainable connectivity. 
  • In this endeavour, Europe can draw on its innovative and economic strength as well as its regulatory power.
  • At the EU-India Summit in May, the launch of a connectivity partnership with India will further connect India’s and Europe’s digital economies.

Rising tensions and rules-based Indo-Pacific

  • Meanwhile, tensions are rising in the Asia of geopolitics.
  • New cold wars or even hot conflicts in the Indo-Pacific would be an economic and political nightmare.
  • Europe must, therefore, take a firmer stand against polarisation and more strongly advocate an inclusive, rules-based Indo-Pacific.
  • The strategic partnership concluded between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last December connects us with like-minded middle powers.

Asia of geopolitical challenges

  • Containing geopolitical rivalries in Asia is also a precondition for shaping the future with the Asia of global challenges.
  •  As the biggest emitters of CO2, the US, China, India and the EU will only win the fight against climate change together.
  • The Leaders Summit on Climate that will be hosted by the US next week sets the stage for cooperation.
  • Europe and the countries of the Indo-Pacific need each other also in the fight against the virus.
  • The EU is by far the biggest supporter of the international vaccine platform COVAX, and India as a leading producer of vaccines is the most important COVAX supplier.
  • We will all benefit from this as, without the worldwide vaccination rollout, mutations will keep on setting us back in the fight against the pandemic.
  • Europe will continue to stand up for human rights and democracy in the Indo-Pacific.
  • This was demonstrated with sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations in Xinjiang — and also against Myanmar’s generals.

Conclusion

Europe is ready for a new partnership — a partnership founded on seeking dialogue with the open Asia of business, taming geopolitical rivalry in Asia together and coming up with responses to the world of tomorrow with the Asia of global challenges. This must be the objective of European policy — for and with the Indo-Pacific

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Recalibrating relations with EU

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Deepening trade ties with the EU

With India about to lose preferential access to the EU, there is a need to deepen the trade and investment ties with the region. The article deals with this issue.

Export potential to the EU

  • India has an untapped export potential of $39.9 billion in the EU and Western Europe.
  • India benefits from tariff preferences under the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for several of these products.
  • In fact, India is among the major beneficiaries of the EU’s GSP, accounting for nearly 37% of India’s merchandise exports.

India losing EU-GSP benefits: Product graduadion

  • Product graduation applies when average imports of a product from a beneficiary country exceed 17.5% of EU-GSP imports of the same product from all beneficiary countries over three years.
  • There are several products where India has export potential in the EU, but these have “graduated” or are at the brink of “graduation” under EU GSP.
  • India’s exports of products such as textiles, inorganic and organic chemicals, gems and jewellery, iron, steel and their articles, base metals and automotives are already out of the ambit of EU-GSP benefits.
  •  In apparel, India’s exports to the EU were valued at $7 billion in 2019, of which nearly 94% was under EU-GSP, indicative of the impact that the graduation may have on apparel exports.
  • Bangladesh’s apparel exports would continue to receive tariff benefits in the EU under Everything but Arms Initiative.
  • Another competitor, Vietnam, concluded a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU in 2019.

Need to deepen trade and investment ties

  • In light of the declining preferential access and the plausible erosion of competitiveness in the EU market, there is clearly a need to deepen trade and investment ties with the region.
  • Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement, which commenced in 2007, is yet to materialise due to lack of concurrence in areas like automotives and dairy and marine products.
  • Therefore, a thorough assessment of the benefits from FTA for domestic producers is warranted, with due consideration to the impact on sensitive sectors, and possibility of inclusion of safeguards such as sunset clause on concessions for some items.
  • Further, there should also be provisions for aspects such as investment and non-tariff measures (NTMs).
  • India also needs to negotiate on investment-related aspects with the EU to foster stronger value chains, especially in technology-intensive sectors in which the EU has a comparative advantage.
  • As far as NTMs are concerned, India faces as many as 414 NTMs in the EU, in a wide array of sectors. FTAs have some institutional arrangements for NTMs.

Consider the question “Forging stronger ties with the EU could pave way for the greater cooperation and stronger trade ties. Elucidate.” 

Conclusion

Post-Brexit EU finds itself in the midst of a growing need for recalibrating ties with its partner countries. Forging stronger ties with the region through a mutually beneficial agreement could help strengthen Indian manufacturing and revitalise the flailing exports.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Swiss Neutrality in World Affairs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Swiss Neutrality

Mains level: Swiss Neutrality as a foreign policy tool

Switzerland’s traditional foreign policy of neutrality has become attractive again because of the changing political reality in the world, said its Ambassador recently.

Q.In context to foreign policy, discuss the relevance, benefits and limitations of Swiss Neutrality.(150 W)

What is Swiss Neutrality?

  • Swiss neutrality is one of the main principles of Switzerland’s foreign policy which dictates that Switzerland is not to be involved in armed or political conflicts between other states.
  • This policy is self-imposed, permanent, and armed, designed to ensure external security and promote peace.
  • Under this, Switzerland pursues an active foreign policy and is frequently involved in peace-building processes around the world.

Historic significance

  • Switzerland has the oldest policy of military neutrality in the world; it has not participated in a foreign war since its neutrality was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1815.
  • The European powers (Austria, France, the UK, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, Spain and Sweden) agreed at the Congress of Vienna in May 1815 that Switzerland should be neutral.
  • But final ratification was delayed until after Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated so that some coalition forces could invade France via Swiss territory.

Swiss moves for the status

  • Since World War II, Switzerland has taken a more active role in international affairs by aiding with humanitarian initiatives, but it remains fiercely neutral with regard to military affairs.
  • It has never joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the European Union, and only joined the United Nations in 2002.

Relevance today

  • Neutrality has become necessary as a foreign policy tool as the phase of power politics has returned in world affairs.
  • Now with big power politics, Switzerland’s neutrality and Switzerland as a place to meet is much more attractive again.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

The ‘Difficult Four’ Countries

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Global perception of India's image

A UK think-tank ‘Royal Institute of International Affairs’ has listed India in ‘Difficult 4’; clubs India with China, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

This newscard helps analyse the Western esp. that of the EU’s perception of India and its global image under the present regime.

What is the news?

  • A report called ‘Global Britain, Global Broker’ has warned the UK government to consider India as more of a rival that a cooperative partner.
  • It accepts the fact that India is set to be the largest country in the world by population very soon and will have the third-largest economy and defence budget at some point in this decade.
  • But it cautions that gaining direct national benefit from the relationship, whether economically or diplomatically, will be difficult for the UK government.
  • The report also accepts India’s importance to the UK as being “inescapable”.

The ‘Difficult Four’

  • Clubbing India with China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey as the “difficult four”, the report says the Johnson government should be more realistic about developing deeper ties with India.
  • They may be important to the UK’s commercial interests, but they will be rivals or, at best, awkward counterparts on many of its global goals, the report warns.
  • India is now classed as a country, destined to count among the UK’s “rivals” or “awkward counterparts” as it pursues its global goals.

India has had bitter (colonial) past

  • The think-tank strikes a note of caution over the two countries’ shared colonial history proving a stumbling block to the promise of a deeper relationship.
  • India has a long and consistent record of resisting being corralled into a ‘Western’ camp.
  • As a result, India is always on the list of countries with which a new UK government commits to engage.
  • But it should be obvious by now that the idea of a deeper relationship with India always promises more than it can deliver.
  • The legacy of British colonial rule consistently curdles the relationship.

Indian flaws

  • The report points to India’s “complex, fragmented domestic politics”, which make it one of the countries resistant to open trade and foreign investment.
  • It highlights concerns raised by domestic groups as well as the UN over a “crackdown on human rights activists and civil society groups” not being actively challenged by the judiciary.
  • It raises concern over India’s pursuance of extreme right-winged policies. Indian domestic politics also has entered a more ethnic-nationalist phase, the report argues.
  • Against this backdrop, the report reflects on the prospect of including India within any new Democratic 10 or D10 coalition of 10 leading democracies.

Try this question from 2019 CS Mains:

 

Q.What are the challenges to our cultural practices in the name of secularism? (150W)

UK’s resentment

  • In a critique of India’s diplomatic behaviour, the report points out that despite border clashes with China, “India did not join the group of countries that criticized China at the UN in July 2019 over HR violations in Xinjiang.
  • India has also been muted in its criticism of the passage of the new national security law in Hong Kong.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Europe’s China gambit will fall short of its stated goals

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Comprehensive Agreement of Investment between China and the EU

Mains level: Paper 2- Contours of the post-pandemic world order

Thought the article is not directly related to India, the conclusion of the investment treaty between the EU and China serves as the prelude to the post-pandemic world order which surely matters for India. The article explains the implications of the agreement.

Investment agreement between EU and China

  • Recently, the EU and China announced the completion of a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) between the two.
  • The CAI gives European firms enhanced access to the Chinese market, removes (or relaxes) Chinese government requirements on joint ventures and technology transfer in some sectors.
  • The European Commission has claimed that the CAI allows the EU to maintain its “policy space”, especially in “sensitive” sectors such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture, and public services
  • The deal also promises equal treatment with state enterprises and greater regulatory transparency in China.
  • Moreover, the Chinese government has undertaken some obligations on environmental sustainability and labour rights, notably by agreeing to make “continued and sustained efforts” to ratify the Forced Labour Convention.

Reaction to the agreement

  • The US reaction ranged from disappointment to outright hostility.
  • The incoming Biden administration would have preferred a unified front against China, by striking an economic deal with Europe first.
  • For others, it was the EU’s apparent misjudgement on China’s human rights promises.

Post-pandemic world order and role of democracies

  • The Europe-China agreement underscores a fundamental question of the post-pandemic world order: Can democracies remain true to their values while engaging in trade and investment with China?
  • To answer that, we must recognize two facts.
  • First, it is impossible to decouple the economies of the West from the Chinese economy without causing an economic catastrophe.
  • Second, there is little that Western countries can do to reshape China’s state-driven economic model or repressive human- and labour-rights regime.

What should be the approach in dealing with China

  • The West should pursue more limited, more attainable, and ultimately more defensible goals.
  • Two goals are paramount.
  • First, trade and investment rules should be such that Western firms and consumers are not directly complicit in human-rights abuses in China.
  • Second, such rules should safeguard democratic countries against Chinese practices that could undermine their domestic institutional arrangements on labour, environment, technology, and national security.

Lack of clarity over arbitration mechanism

  • The agreement contains an arbitration scheme that enables the parties to bring violation complaints against each other.
  • Arbitration scheme could serve as a means for the Chinese government to challenge specific entry barriers against Chinese firms.
  • How much this mechanism will be sensitive towards the issues such as treatment given to workers or the environmental protection is not clear.
  • Similarly, how much deference will panels show to exceptions to market access based on “national security” considerations is not clear.

Conclusion

We should not judge the CAI by whether it enables Europe to export its system and values. We should judge it by whether it allows Europe to remain true to its own.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India’s new Europolitik

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Coalition with the European middle powers

The article explains the shift in India’s foreign policy in its relations with the European middle powers against the backdrop of churn in the geopolitics.

India’s changing perception of Europe

  • Three recent developments underline India’s changing perceptions of Europe.
  • 1) India’s support for France’s membership of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
  • 2) India’s backing for a larger European role in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Delhi has welcomed the interest of Germany and the Netherlands in building a new geopolitical architecture in the Indo-Pacific.
  • 3) Security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific is also emerging as an important theme in partnership between India and the U.K.

Reasons for India’s shift

  • India is looking beyond the bipolar geopolitical competition between the US and China.
  • Delhi also wants to insure against the inevitable volatility in the complex dynamic between Washington and Beijing.
  • To cope with the uncertain political trajectory of the US, Delhi is already supplementing its American partnership with a network of multilateral groups with other middle powers, such as the India-Australia-Japan forum and the trilateral dialogue with France and Australia.

Rebuilding ties with Europe and challenges

  • Rebuilding ties with Europe needs a significant corrective to Delhi’s traditional strategic neglect of the continent.
  • The bipolar Cold War dynamic and the North-South framework developing world versus the developed prevented Delhi from taking a more nuanced view of Europe’s political agency after WWII.
  • Attempts to impart strategic momentum after the Cold War did not really succeed.
  • As the economic gap between China and India widened, so did the scale of European interest in both countries.
  • It is also true that the European ability to project military power into the Indo-Pacific is limited.
  • But in combination with Asian democracies, Europe can certainly make a difference.
  • It can mobilize massive economic resources, wield political influence, and leverage its significant soft power to shape the Indo-Pacific discourse.

An exceptional relationship with Frace

  • France has been an exception in Europe in its connection with India.
  • India’s partnership with France now has a strong regional anchor — the Indo-Pacific as it has its territories in the Western Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.
  • France and Britain have lingering disputes leftover from the era of decolonization in parts of the Western Indian Ocean.
  • India will have to contribute to the amicable resolution of those problems.

Consider the question “A strong coalition with the European middle powers should be the indispensable element of India’s foreign policy in the face of changing geopolitical circumstances. Comment.”

Conclusion

As China transforms the Eurasian landmass as well as the Indo-Pacific, it is abundantly clear that the US alone cannot redress the imbalance. A strong coalition of Asian and European middle powers must now be an indispensable element of the geopolitics of the East. Such a coalition can’t be built overnight. But India could push for a solid start in 2021.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-UK Relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-UK ties

India and the U.K. must not allow concerns of the moment to dominate their relationship.

Practice Question: Discuss the opportunities and the challenges in the India-UK relationships. What is the prospectus of India-UK relations after Brexit and Coronavirus pandemic?

Secretary’s Delhi visit

  • British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s Delhi visit came with a declaration of immediate and longer-term goals for the India-U.K. relationship.
  • It prepares the way for PM Johnson’s India visit, as the chief guest at Republic Day and to invite PM Modi to the U.K. to the G-7 and the Climate Change (COP26) summits next year.
  • Johnson will be the first head of government to visit India after the spread of COVID-19; this will also be his first bilateral visit anywhere after Brexit signalling the importance of ties with India.

A new page in ties

  • Upgrading the ties – Both countries up for upgrading of the 2004 India-U.K. Strategic Partnership to a “Comprehensive” Strategic Partnership.
  • This will help to envision closer military ties, cooperation in Indo-Pacific strategies, counter-terrorism and fighting climate change.
  • Hoping for FTA – Britain is on a mission to secure free trade partners after Brexit. It has wrapped up nearly 20 trade deals, including most recently with the U.S., Japan, and Vietnam and is hoping for India to sign the same.
  • Corona pandemic and cooperation for vaccine manufacturing – The highlight of India’s relations will be closer cooperation on the coronavirus vaccine.
  • India’s Serum Institute set to produce and distribute the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in India, and then as part of the COVAX project to other developing countries.

Challenges in India-UK relations

  • Stagnancy in the relations – India-UK relations are stagnant for the past five years due to Britain’s Brexit preoccupation.
  • The relationship has failed to progress in this time, despite visits by Mr Modi and former British Prime Minister Theresa May.
  • Other less important issues gained the narrative – Issues such as visas and the fate of fugitive Indian businessmen in the U.K. have been allowed to dominate the narrative.
  • The MEA had responded sharply to protests at the Indian High Commission in London over the Article 370 move in Jammu and Kashmir, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
  • Britain’s concerns about the farmers’ protests that sparked responses in New Delhi about interference in India’s internal matters.
  • Sometimes, intense interest from the British Indian diaspora makes Indian politics a factor in British politics is a reminder of how closely linked the two countries remain.
  • A new chapter in India-UK relationship would necessarily entail the K. to be more sensitive to India’s concerns, and for India to be less sensitive when Britain expresses its concerns.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Places in news: Luxembourg

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Location of Luxembourg

Mains level: Not Much

Prime Minister has pitched for strengthening ties to further ramp up economic engagement between India and Luxembourg.

Mark the location of Luxembourg. Since it is a landlocked country, there can be a question asking its bordering states.

Luxembourg

  • Luxembourg is a small European country, landlocked by Belgium, France and Germany.
  • It’s mostly rural, with dense Ardennes forest and nature parks in the north, rocky gorges of the Mullerthal region in the east and the Moselle river valley in the southeast.
  • Its capital, Luxembourg City, is famed for its fortified medieval old town perched on sheer cliffs

Why Luxembourg?

  • Luxembourg is one of the most important financial centres globally.
  • Several Indian companies have raised capital by issuing Global Depositary Receipts at the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.
  • Luxembourg-based investment funds hold substantial banking and asset management market share in portfolio investments in India.
  • It is also the third-largest source of Foreign Portfolio Investments (FPI) in India.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India should believe in the EU

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: European Union

Mains level: Paper 2- Commonalities and areas of cooperation with the EU

India and the EU have many things in common. And there are many areas in which both can expand the cooperation. This article explores commonalities and the areas which offer the scope for enhancing the cooperation. 

Common interests

  • Both aim to enhance strategic autonomy and their global standing.
  • Diversifying strategic value chains is also a common interest.
  • Both seek to address the issue of climate change on an urgent basis.

Economic ties with the EU

  • The EU is India’s largest trading partner accounting for €80 billion worth of trade in goods in 2019.
  • This is equal to 11.1% of total Indian trade.
  • The EU is also the biggest foreign investor, with €67.7 billion worth of investments made in 2018.
  • Which is equal to 22% of total FDI inflows.

Scope for improving the economic ties

  • The EU’s investments in China amounted to €175.3 billion (2018).
  • So, India could succeed in attracting EU investment that might be moving out of China.
  • To attract this outflowing investment, India must address the mutual trust deficit.
  • Enhanced business cooperation can help both the EU and India diversify their strategic value chains.
  • Increasing people’s mobility and connectivity is another area that can create opportunities for innovation and growth.

Talks on FTA

  • Both sides need to move further on the Free Trade Agreement.
  • A new study from the European Parliament estimates the impact of an EU-India trade agreement between €8 billion and €8.5 billion.
  • The study also mentions additional potential gains from enhanced coordination on the provision of global public goods, such as environmental standards.

Cooperation on climate change

  • Under the new industrial strategy, the Green Deal, the EU has set an ambitious target to be carbon-emission neutral by 2050.
  • If the EU and India succeed in transforming into carbon-neutral economies by 2050, we all would gain from the investment.

Strategic partnership with EU

  • The Indo-Pacific region is becoming contentious, so India should capitalise on its geopolitical leverage there.
  • Cooperation with like-minded, democratic powers can support this effort, especially towards assertive competitors like China.
  • The EU as a whole offers more to India than the strongest bilateral relations with individual EU member state.
  • New Delhi must learn how to maximise benefits from this strategic partnership.
  • The disruption caused by COVID-19 has been the occasion for the EU to prove its worth.
  • “Next-generation EU proposal” submitted by the European Commission has economic as well as geopolitical implications.
  • The proposal shows that the ties that bind the EU extend well beyond treaties and individual members’ self-interest.
  • The EU champions the rules-based international order, so the EU and India must act to promote sustainable reform of multilateral institutions starting from the WTO.

Consider the question “India-EU ties with many common interests assume significance as rule-based order is being challenged by the rise of exceptionalism. Comment.”

Conclusion

A strong partnership would help both the EU and India become global decision-makers and tackle the challenges caused by the disruption of global order collectively.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Mapping: Baltic Travel Bubble

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Baltic Travel Bubble

Mains level: Travel restriction in times of COVID outbreak

The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have opened their borders to one another, creating a coronavirus “travel bubble” with an improvised idea to boost travel into their countries.

Mark the following things on Map:

1. Baltic Sea and its bordering nations

2. Irben Strait

3. Gulf of Riga

4. Gulf of Finland

Baltic Travel Bubble

  • The ‘Baltic travel bubble’ aims to facilitate the citizens of these three countries to travel within the region without hassles.
  • However, those who are coming from any other than these three countries would be required to follow self-isolation guidelines and stay in quarantine for exactly 14 days.
  • During the epidemic, Estonia and Lithuania closed their borders to non-citizens and all three nations placed mandatory quarantines for those entering for reasons related to non-work activities.
  • The region has been part of the European Union since 2004 and since 2007 has been a member of the European Schengen Free Travel Area.

Significance of the travel ease

  • The Baltic nations have shown trust in each other’s healthcare system and have concluded that they have been able to tackle the coronavirus outbreak efficiently.
  • For Asian countries including India, these developments can provide interesting pointers when lockdown relaxations pertaining to travel and flights are being considered.

Bonus: Try this question from CSP 2011

Between India and East Asia, the navigation-time and distance can be greatly reduced by which of the following?

1. Deepening the Malacca straits between Malaysia and Indonesia.

2. Opening a new canal across the Kra isthmus between the Gulf of Siam and Andaman Sea.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Explained: The EU data strategy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Read the attached story

The European Commission has recently released a “European strategy for data… to ensure the human-centric development of Artificial Intelligence” and a white paper on artificial intelligence.

EU data strategy

  • The new documents present a timeline for various projects, legislative frameworks, and initiatives by the European Union, and represent its recognition that it is slipping behind American and Chinese innovation.
  • The strategy lays out “why the EU should act now”.
  • The blueprint hopes to strengthen Europe’s local technology market by creating a “data single market” by 2030 to allow the free flow of data within the EU.
  • To aid a “data-agile economy”, the Commission hopes to implement an “enabling legislative framework for the governance of common European data spaces” by the latter half of the year.
  • By the beginning of 2021, the Commission will make high-value public sector data available free through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) — a pathway for two different applications to speak to each other.
  • Between 2021 and 2027, the Commission will invest in a High Impact Project to jump-start data infrastructure. Several other initiatives are laid out, including a cloud services marketplace.

Why such strategy?

  • The EU has the potential to be successful in the data-agile economy. It has the technology, the know-how and a highly skilled workforce.
  • However, competitors such as China and the US are already innovating quickly and projecting their concepts of data access and use across the globe, the strategy states.
  • With American and Chinese companies taking the lead on technological innovation, Europe is keen to up its own competitiveness.

What does the EU move mean for legislation?

  • Europe has been a frontrunner when it comes to technology regulation.
  • Its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) released in 2018 was a game-changer across the industry. In the recent strategy, the GDPR is seen as giving the “solid framework for digital trust.”
  • Parliamentarians are discussing India’s current Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill in a Joint Select Committee.
  • The recent draft of the PDP introduced a clause on non-personal data, mandating entities to hand over such data to the government on command.
  • This was not included in the draft proposed by the Justice B N Sri Krishna Committee in October 2018.
  • Some of the movement around the PDP Bill comes from a desire to strengthen India’s own data economy, similar to the EU’s desire.

Has India done anything similar?

  • The Union Cabinet approved the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) in 2012.
  • As part of the initiative, the government worked with the US government to release data.gov.in, a site of government data for public use.
  • The Economic Survey of 2018 envisioned a similar use of non-personal data.
  • Just as the EU’s strategy discusses “data for public good”, the chapter titled “Data ‘Of the People, By the People, For the People’” advocated that the government step in to sectors that private players ignore, marking the first time India’s Economic Survey has isolated “data” as a strategic focus.
  • Other data integration efforts have been announced or implemented by NITI Aayog (the National Data & Analytics Platform), the Smart Cities Mission (India Urban Data Exchange), and the Ministry of Rural Development (DISHA dashboard).
  • In 2018, the National Informatics Centre worked with PwC and other vendors to create a Centre of Excellence for Data Analytics aimed at providing data analysis help to government departments.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India abroad: On diplomats firefighting negative references to India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 2- India's foreign relations with the EU and concerns raised over CAA in EU parliament.

 

Context

The European Union Parliament’s discussion recently on India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, is a cause of concern.

Reactions in the West over the act

  • In the U.K. and the U.S.:  Parliamentarians in the U.K. and U.S. Congressmen, including Democratic presidential contenders, have asked India to “reconsider” the law and to “engage” with the protesters.
  • Resolution in the EU parliament: The EU parliamentarians went a step further.
    • Six critical resolutions: The EU parliament put out six different and extremely critical resolutions.
    • One of the six articles spoke of the possible risk by the CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens, of creating “the largest statelessness crisis in the world”.
    • A sixth less critical resolution, but which worried about the “brutal crackdown” on protesters, was dropped.
  • Diplomatic outreach by India
    • After India’s intense diplomatic outreach, the parliamentarians agreed to put off voting on the resolution until after External Affairs Minister and the PM visit Brussels.
    • The hope is that with the U.K. scheduled to leave the EU on January 31, interest in the anti-CAA resolutions will wane.
    • Finally, the government has held that the CAA is India’s internal law.

India’s Reaction

  • The sovereign right of India: While the government is right about India’s sovereign right, it would be deluding itself if it thinks any of these explanations are passing muster with the EU parliamentarians.
    • Dilution of case against foreign interference: The government diluted its own case against foreign interference when it facilitated a visit by EU MEPs to Srinagar last year.
    • By engaging the EU MEPs to avoid a vote in the EU Parliament this week, and offering to explain the reasons behind CAA, the government is diluting it further.
  • Need to stop reference to Pakistan: New Delhi must also consider the impact of its repeated reference to Pakistan as the sole mover of any motion against it at world legislatures and fora.
    •  626 MEPs of the total 751 were members of the groups that originally drafted the six resolutions, and it seems unlikely that Islamabad could have achieved such a majority.

Diplomatic toll

  • Cumulative toll: The government must reflect on the cumulative toll on its diplomatic heft following international alarm over the CAA, plans for an NRC and the dilution of Article 370.
  • Instead of pushing a positive agenda for India or handling global challenges, Indian diplomats seem to be overwhelmed keeping out any negative references to India at official fora.

Conclusion

India must take steps to address the concerns raised at the global level over the act and also prepare itself for the possible impact of such actions.

 

 

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

[op-ed snap] It’s not yet Howdy, Modi!

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 2- India-US ties, what are the issues that introduces friction in the ties between the two.

Context

Persistent in their efforts to remake their countries and their engagement with the world, Mr Modi and Mr Trump are shaking up the bilateral ties between the two countries, and the resultant flux could outlive their tenures.

The emergence of both the leaders on similar promises

  • Improvements over the legacy of their predecessors: Both leaders continuously reiterate that their predecessors were incapable of protecting national interest.
    • The compulsion to reframe the national interest: Such premises commits them both to reframe the national interest, and both have articulated it with clarity and force.
    • For instance, Mr Modi, in Houston in September 2019 and Mr Trump in Davos this week, went great lengths to lay out figures that presented their respective regimes as the most effective guardians.
  • Both have cultural and economic agenda: Both dispensations believe that “the people” had been given a raw deal by earlier regimes.
    • Both have a cultural and economic agenda.
    • National awakening: They are now leading a national reawakening, and working hard for the hard-working people.
    • Both believe that cultural nationalism is a force for the good.
    • Securing borders and entry barriers: Both believe that national borders need to be strengthened by stricter monitoring and setting new bars for entry.
    • Renegotiating the treaties: Both leaders try to renegotiate the contract between the union and the States, and between citizens and the state within their respective countries.
    • The supremacy of executive: They assert the supremacy of the executive over the legislature and the judiciary.
    • Shared values: The notion of shared values of India and the U.S. has acquired a whole new meaning under Mr Trump and Mr Modi.

Politics and governance

  • Hopes of status-quo in bilateral relations shattered: It was hoped that the stronger U.S.-India ties- that have autonomous drivers of convergence-would not be impacted by the nationalist politics of these two leaders.
    • But both leaders have been remarkably true to their politics in their governance.
    • Current tumult in the India-US ties: Shared values notwithstanding, national interests as perceived by these leaders have several points of divergence and therein lies in the current tumult in India-U.S. ties.
    • Opposition to the “world order”: Mr Trump has been outspokenly confrontational with the “world order” that he says has worked against American interests.
    • Dismantling the treaties: America under Mr Trump has wrecked treaties such as the Paris climate agreement and institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, disrupting the “rule-based order”.
    • India’s relations with Bangladesh: India’s spirited outreach in the neighbourhood is still playing out. India’s historically warm ties with Bangladesh have been frayed after CAA.
  • India’s ambitions on the global level
  • The seat at the UNSC: India under continues to push for more space for itself in global affairs by seeking a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and membership.
  • NSG membership: India is also pushing for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • The US actions at global levels
    • Expansion of the principle of the pre-emptive strike: America expanded the principle of pre-emptive strike to include the assassination of a senior official of Iran.
    • Renegotiating the treaties: After dismantling the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mr Trump forced Mexico and Canada to accede to his demands in a new trade deal.
  • The India-US relations and impact of U.S. relations with other countries
    • Impact on India-US ties: India’s ties with the U.S. are impacted by America’s ties with India’s adversaries and neighbours, China and Pakistan.
    • Hopes of alignment in the Indo-US ties: Mr Trump’s bluster against both had lit hope that there would finally be a near-complete alignment between India and the U.S. on strategy.
    • US-Iran conflict: Despite Mr Trump’s avowed opposition to America’s endless wars in West Asia, the US is going against Iran headlong, which is not in India’s interest.
    • Relations with Gulf Countries: Trump and Mr Modi share a strong bonding with the Gulf Cooperation Council kings, but their courses in the region are diverging.
    • US-Pakistan coming closer once again: The American President’s impatience to get out of Afghanistan has already pushed his administration closer to Pakistan, which is now further necessitated by his adventurist Iran policy.
    • The US disregard for China’s expansionist policies: Mr Trump has been singularly focused on one question-trade. He cares little about China’s expansionism and at any rate that is not a factor in his ties with other Asian countries.

India-US ties- Points of fission

  • On the trade front: Mr Trump has bracketed India and China as two countries that have duped his predecessors to gain undue advantage. Which is far from seeing India as deserving special concessions to counterbalance China as old wisdom demanded.
    • Ending GSP: The US ended India’s status under the World Trade Organization’s Generalized System of Preferences and took other punitive measures.
    • India trying to decrease the trade surplus: By increasing hydrocarbon imports from the U.S., the government is trying to reduce India’s trade surplus.
  • Restrictions on H1-B visa: The US has tightened the restrictions on the H1-B visa which is used by the Indian companies.
  • Decreasing bipartisan support in the US: The mobilisation of Indian diaspora in America by the government has resulted in the inevitable blowback.
    • Diaspora divided and bipartisan support waning: The diaspora has been divided, and the bipartisan support for India is now squandered. Progressive sections on the Democratic side and religious libertarians and evangelicals on the Trump side are both concerned over India’s actions back home.

Conclusion

Partnership with America is critical to India. India must take the steps to align the interest but whenever it diverges India must take measures to minimise its impact on India while furthering its interests.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

[op-ed snap] Acting in concert

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 3- India-EU relations and scope and areas of cooperation.

Context

The EU-India Strategic Partnership has come a long way in recent years. The relationship is based on long-standing shared values and interests. There are numerous opportunities to unleash the full potential of EU-India cooperation.

India-EU Cooperation on Climate Change

  • The EU has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
  • But EU member states together only account for 9 per cent of global emissions.
  • Need to engage with the rest of the world:  EU-India cannot solve this problem unless they engage with the rest of the world to address it.
    • India’s commitment, as one of the biggest democracies in the world, is a key part of the solution.
    • The mixed outcome of the COP25 Climate Conference shows how much more remains to be done.
    • Clean Energy and Climate Partnership (CECP): In 2016 Prime Minister Narendra Modi and European leaders agreed on an EU-India Clean Energy and Climate Partnership (CECP).
    • EU and International Solar Alliance: In 2018, the EU joined efforts with the International Solar Alliance, headquartered in India.

Cooperation in trade

  • Both are the members of WTO: India and EU both agree on the vital role of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the need to overcome the crisis of the dispute settlement system.
    • Ministerial dialogue: The launch of a regular ministerial dialogue on economic, trade and investment issues could give additional impetus to the relations.

Cooperation on security

  • Indian Navy vessels are now escorting World Food Programme ships in the framework of the EU Atlanta operation against piracy off the coast of Somalia.
  • Cooperation on anti-terrorism: Counter-terrorism experts from Europe and India exchange experiences and best practices.
    • As a result, an enhanced working relationship between our police officers is taking shape.

Digital economy and cyber

  • Need to deepen cooperation: EU and India should deepen cooperation to protect fundamental freedoms in cyberspace and the free flow of data – and counter the drift towards high-tech “de-coupling”.
  • India-EU does not want a split in cyberspace, forcing both to “choose sides” between competing systems and standards.
  • India and EU both believe in fair competition, based on global standards, for 5G, AI, big data and the internet of things.

Conclusion

There is much that the EU and India have accomplished in recent years. But there is even more to be done to further strengthen our dynamic dialogue and cooperation in all areas of mutual interest and as players on the world stage.

 

 

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Timeline of EU

Timeline of European Union
source

19 April 1951: European Coal and Steel Community Treaty signed by Germany, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Belgium and Netherlands.
May 1952: European Defence Community (EDC) Treaty.
August 1954: France rejects the EDC treaty.
25 March 1957: Treaties of Rome signed: creates Common Market / European Economic Community (EEC) and European Atomic Energy Community.
1 January 1958: Treaties of Rome come into effect.

1960s

1961: Britain tries to join the EEC but is rejected.
January 1963: Franco-German Treaty of Friendship; they agree to work together on many policy issues.
January 1966: Luxembourg Compromise gives majority vote on some issues, but leaves national veto on key areas.
1 July 1968: Full customs union created in the EEC, ahead of schedule.
1967: British application again rejected.
December 1969: Hague summit to “relaunch” the Community, attended by heads of state.

1970s

1970: Werner Report argues economic and monetary union possible by 1980.
April 1970: Agreement for EEC to raise own funds through levies and customs duties.
October 1972: Paris Summit agrees plans for future, including economic and monetary union and ERDF fund to support depressed regions.
January 1973: UK, Ireland and Denmark join.
March 1975: First meeting of the European Council, where heads of state gather to discuss events.
1979: First direct elections to European Parliament.
March 1979: Agreement to create the European Monetary System.

1980s

1981: Greece joins.
February 1984: Draft Treaty on European Union produced.
December 1985: Single European Act agreed; takes two years to ratify.
1986: Portugal and Spain join.
1 July 1987: Single European Act comes into effect.

1990s

February 1992: Maastricht Treaty / Treaty on European Union signed.
1993: Single Market begins.
1 November 1993: Maastricht Treaty comes into effect.
1 January 1995: Austria, Finland and Sweden join.
1995: Decision taken to introduce the single currency, the Euro.
2 October 1997: Treaty of Amsterdam makes minor changes.
1 January 1999: Euro introduced in eleven counties.
1 May 1999: Treaty of Amsterdam comes into effect.

2000s

2001: Treaty of Nice signed; extends majority voting.
2002: Old currencies withdrawn, ‘Euro’ becomes sole currency in majority of EU; Convention on the Future of Europe created to draw up constitution for larger EU.
1 February 2003: Treaty of Nice comes into effect.
2004: Draft constitution signed.
1 May 2004: Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, Slovenia join.
2005: Draft constitution rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands.
2007: Lisbon Treaty signed, this modified the constitution until it was deemed a sufficient compromise; Bulgaria and Romania join.
June 2008: Irish voters reject Lisbon Treaty.
October 2009: Irish voters accept Lisbon Treaty.
1 December 2009: Lisbon Treaty comes into effect.
2013: Croatia joins.
2016: United Kingdom votes to leave.

Growth of EU
source

Structure of EU

European Union seven institutions
source

The European Union has seven institutions: the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the European Council, the European Central Bank, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Auditors.

  • The European Council gives direction to the EU and convenes at least four times a year. It comprises the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and one representative per member state; either its head of state or head of government.
  • The European Council has been described by some as the Union’s “supreme political authority”. It is actively involved in the negotiation of the treaty changes and defines the EU’s policy agenda and strategies.
  • The European Council uses its leadership role to sort out disputes between member states and the institutions and to resolve political crises and disagreements over controversial issues and policies.
  • The European System of Financial Supervisors is an institutional architecture of the EU’s framework of financial supervision composed by three authorities: the European Banking Authority, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority.
  • To complement this framework, there is also a European Systemic Risk Board under the responsibility of the ECB.
  • The aim of this financial control system is to ensure the economic stability of the EU.
  • The European Parliament allows the citizens of the EU to participate directly in European political affairs. The citizens of the 28 member states appoint their deputies in the national elections for a five-year period. These deputies are to represent the interests of their electors on a European level. The latest elections (by direct universal suffrage) took place in May 2014.
  • The European Commission (EC) is an institution of the European Union, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. Commissioners swear an oath at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, pledging to respect the treaties and to be completely independent in carrying out their duties during their mandate. The Commission operates as a cabinet government, with 28 members of the Commission (informally known as “commissioners”).
  • The Court of Justice of the European Union is the Union’s only body of a legal nature. It is a sort of legislative watchdog in charge of verifing the interpretation and the application of community legislation.

 

Importance of EU:

  • The European Union is our largest trading partner, and our largest export destination. And it is our largest source of Foreign Direct Investment.
  • However, India’s exports to EU in 2014-15 had shrunk (-) 4.4 per cent year on year to $49.3 billion. Imports from EU had also contracted (-) 1.5 per cent in 2014-15 to $49.2 billion.

Deadlock in Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BITA)

The BTIA negotiations have remained deadlocked over growing differences regarding greater market access sought by both sides for merchandise exports.

EU’s main Demands

  • EU has been keen on reducing or abolishing tariffs in several sectors, including in the automobile and wine and spirits sectors.
  • India’s import duty on cars are between 60 and 120 per cent as against the EU’s 10 per cent.
  • The EU is keen that India should adopt stringent IP protection standards even if that means going beyond the WTO specified standards.
  • The problem of India’s model BIT
  • India’s new model bilateral investment treaty (BIT) is another major contentious issue, especially for foreign investment.
  • Given the experiences of major European companies such as Vodafone and Cairn, who are battling the imposition of retrospective taxes by India, the EU is deeply concerned about the protection of its investments in India.

India’s main demands

  • India’s main demands on data security status (crucial for India’s information technology sector to do more business with the EU firms), easier temporary movement of skilled professionals and seamless intracorporate movement.
  • The EU should do away with their non-tariff barriers that seem to have been erected mainly to protect some of their local firms but not as much for better safety or quality.
  • India has also sought agricultural market access in the EU as well as disciplining of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (norms related with plants and animals) and Technical Barriers to Trade.

 

Other major issues between India and EU:

  • Human rights violation: One of the ostensible reasons for stalled talks between the European Union (EU) and India had been the EU concern over human right violations in India.
  • Italian marines case has also played a spoiler in the EU-India relationship.
  • Arbitrary Ban: In August 2015, India had deferred FTA over the EU imposing a ban on sale of around 700 pharma products.

 

13TH INDIA-EU SUMMIT

The 13th EU-India Summit was held in Brussels on March 2016.

Outcome of summit:

The 13th India-EU Summit concluded in Brussels without a consensus on a bilateral free trade deal even as progress was made in bilateral cooperation in other fields — from foreign policy to outer space.

Following are the major outcomes of the summit:

EU-India Agenda for Action-2020

India and the European Union (EU) have endorsed the ‘EU-India Agenda for Action 2020’ as a common road map for the strategic partnership in the next five years.

  • Foreign Policy and Security Cooperation: Strengthen foreign policy cooperation, in areas of mutual interest such as Asia, Africa, the Middle East/West Asia, Europe, and other relevant areas.
  • Security: Strengthen cooperation and work towards tangible outcomes on shared objectives of nonproliferation & disarmament, counter-piracy, counter-terrorism (including counter -radicalization) and cyber security.
  • The two sides agreed to cooperate in countering violent extremism, disrupt recruitment of terrorists and prevent the free passage of foreign fighters.
  • They have also agreed to explore the possibility of India and EUROPOL, the EU law enforcement agency, to share intelligence.

The Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM), which was also adopted, is designed to control and organize migration a pressing concern for the EU.

  •  The Agenda also includes the prevention of human trafficking and promoting international protection as priority areas.

Joint Declaration on an India-EU Water Partnership (IEWP): The objective of this Joint Declaration is to strengthen technological, scientific and management capabilities of India and the EU in the field of water management on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.

  • Joint Declaration on a Clean Energy and Climate Partnership.
  • Both sides agreed to further the negotiations on early conclusion of the BTIA.
  • The European Investment Bank (EIB) signed an agreement with India to release the first tranche of 200 million euros of its total 450 million euros loan towards the construction of the Lucknow Metro’s first line.

Challenges before EU:

  1. Eurozone crisis- The root of this problem is lied in the formation in EU itself. Crisis in one country affects the other countries as well, and now many countries in EU are facing economic crisis(PIGS countries) and it has affected other prosperous countries like France and Germany as well. 
  2. Refugee crisis– Situated aside Mediterranean sea, it has become a destination for many refugees who left their home from West Asia and North Africa due to troubled conditions in these regions. the influx of so many refugees has created problems related to higher economic burden in already suffering europe, law and order problem, ethnic clashes between natives and migrants etc.
  3. Problem of extremism- The rise of ISIL and the recent attacks in Paris and Belgium has exposed the vulnerabilities of youths in europe towards extremist ideologies as the attacks were happened with no outside supports.

 

European Refugee Crisis

Eu union crisis explained
source

Huge number of refugees and migrants have been shifting to Europe, from many countries like Syria, particularly since 2011. They see Europian Union (EU) as their asylum. With more number of refugees coming in at a time when the natives don’t want any more, the whole situation has developed into a crisis. This crisis is called European Refugee Crisis.

The refugees are not only from Syria!

More than 5 Lakh people have crossed to Europe by sea and land. Most of them are from Syria – troubled not only by civil war, but also by the most violent and inhumane atrocities by ISIS. But Syria is not the single source. They come from areas such as the Middle East (Syria, Iraq), Africa (Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Gambia), South Asia and Central Asia. According to International Organisation for Migration (IOM) statistics, a substantial number of refugees are also from Afghanistan and Pakistan too due to unending civil conflicts in these countries.

The phrase “European migrant crisis” became widely used in April 2015, when five boats carrying almost two thousand migrants to Europe sank in the Mediterranean Sea, with a combined death toll estimated at more than 1,200 people.

Migrants and Refugees – Statistics

  • According to UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, 59.5 million people were forcibly displaced in 2014 which again rose considerably in 2015.
  • A record number of 1,07,500 migrants reached the borders of European Union in recent months.
  • Between 2000 and 2015, around 30, 000 have perished along these borders.

This figures stand as a witness that this crisis didn’t started only after ISIS emerged. The increasing number of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in Europe is seen as a dangerous growing trend among refugees. In 2014 alone around 24,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum. Many of the children who arrive are at the age group of 15 to 17 with no formal schooling adding more headaches to host countries.

The European Response to Migrant Crisis

Germany and the EU have been pushing for other EU members to work out a plan for asylum seekers. Britain leads among countries which strictly rejects it. The Right-Wing PM of Hungary has appealed to refugees not to try and cross into Hungary which has fenced its borders with razor wire. Bulgaria, Czech, Slovakia and Poland all are reluctant in taking of refugees making the situation grave.

Germany is expected to give green signal to almost 1 million applicants for asylum. After extensive criticisms by Media on Refugee crisis, EU has started to take few favourable steps.  

Initially Europe greeted immigrants with barbed wires, tear gas and police brutality. Only after huge outcry across International media and from human rights and progressive organisations within Europe, eased the curbs on refugees.

Aylan: Another incident which helped to garner pro- refugee sentiments was photo of dead child Aylan on a beach. A mishap happened from his father who accidently dropped him from an overcrowded boat while trying to escape. These photos send jitters across world and thanks to social media which made sure that this photo was seen by everyone who has an account.

Also Pope Francis statement that every Church in Europe should take a refugee family has given hope to many that it may change the mood in European Right Wing’s mind.

Countries have started to take more refugees peacefully now. European people have been welcoming refugees with water, food, shoes and blankets. Though Italy, Greece and Hungary are the frontline countries of reception, most sort after destinations are Germany, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland.

Why Europe?

Europe is the most preferred destination for the people from this war conflicted regions as its economically prosperous, socially secure and has friendly immigration laws.

Mostly it’s not because refugees are opportunists that they walk to EU but it’s due to dangerous situation they and their families has to live. Endless wars, conflicts have ruined their countries political, economic and social equilibrium.

Also it’s surprising why GCC countries never have been helpful or receptive to refugee crisis especially when it’s happening in their backyard. Rich countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar has to play more pro- active roles in this situation. So obviously Europe as nearest land seems to be their immediate hope to go as they can trek or use boats or ships to reach.

Macro level causes for Refugee Crisis

  • West: A short and quick look into history will show you that countries who are responsible for this situation are the ones who have to bear pain of this crisis i.e Europe or to put in a cliché ‘West’ inclusive of US. Middle East can be said as the holy grail of West since oil was accidentally found by two American gentlemen in Saudi Arabia. No doubt it was a boon to natives and even to millions of Asian and African immigrants to Middle East but also it paved the way to unending geo-political crisis across the region. Before finding oil just like Asia and Africa European colonialism had sucked all its wealth and when time came to leave the place like everywhere, Imperial powers left without solving issues created by them mainly land disputes within neighbours. Example is Israel and Palestine issue.
  • Dictatorship regimes and Islamic fundamentalism: Continuous dictatorship type regimes and Islamic fundamentalism made Middle East most volatile n disturbed place on the planet. Western powers in order to make their oil supply smooth and to be part of Gulf Boom started in early 80’s always took a partial stand on these issues.
  • Shia-Sunni divide: Another villain to already worsened situation was Shia-Sunni divide among people, society and regimes which led to many conflicts.  This reason has led many natives to flee as refugees in the past from Palestine, during Iraq-Iran war, Iraq-Kuwait war etc.
  • Wars: This refuge crisis has given Europe a reality check on its wars on many regions of MENA (Middle East and North African region). Wars on these lands didn’t ease the situation even though they were able to kill or defeat dictator leaders. By war, infrastructure and liveable conditions of already abysmal level got more deteriorated.  These resulted natives of these lands to search green pastures which happened to be Europe and hence started Refugee crisis.
  • Democracy movements and civil war: Present refugees crisis didn’t started yesterday but it has been seen a huge surge from Libya conflict. If we go again back refugee problem as a crisis started from US, UK joint war to liberate Iraq.
  • ISIS: Emergence of ISIS just sky rocketed the whole thing. Western powers in a way failed to bring stable regimes to these lands.  People in a way got sandwiched between atrocities of ISIS or ineffective regimes backed by West on one side and on the other side hunger, poverty and tyranny. Only way to survive for them was to initiate long walk towards Europe! Thus started one of the biggest Exoduses ever seen in history.

Adding fuel to fire

  1. Saudi Arabia has been attacking and bombing Yemen.
  2. Asylum denied refugees may join ISIS.
  3. Turkey’s intolerance with Kurds

Syrian Conflict have been going on for 4 years but why suddenly this crisis?

  • War in Syria against ISIS is not getting any better. It made Syrians to leave their country to Turkey which is closest and they thought once war is over, they can return.
  • Even though Turkey has taken 2 million refugees, it’s not a country for people to stay in the long run as Right to work for refugees are not legal yet. Also new regime of Turkey is also not quite favourable to refuges as previous government. It has made refugees reluctant to go to Turkey.
  • UN organisations working with millions of refuges in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon are running short of funds to keep up the relief work and expenses of camp making people to think of going to Europe. Similar is the situation among UN camps catering to the needs of refugees in Eastern Europe.
  • Many people have saved required money to use legally or illegally to get into Germany.
  • People have familiarised with the route via Balkan to trek to EU.
  • EU countries have been sitting as a lame duck all this year’s talking, discussing on refugee crisis without sensing urgent need of a solution or to deal with such a situation.
  • Still EU should understand that what they are facing now is just a tip of iceberg compared to neighbouring countries of Syria when it comes to dealing with refugees.

Conclusions with Possible Solutions

West in a way with its narrow minded Foreign Policy have destabilized West Asia and Middle East and now cannot show their back on refugee crisis.

  • Europe should include US which has been largely elusive on whole issue till now.
  • GCC countries should involve more in accepting refugees. It’s a blunder what Saudi Arabia is doing right now by attacking and bombing Yemen currently which will only add more refugees.
  • If Europe is going to push back the refugees, the situation will be more vicious. Such a stupidity will increase the chances of refugees joining with ISIS as they won’t have any other options to survive.
  • Turkey should end its anonymity with Kurds and involve them more into finding a solution and to defeat ISIS. 
  • Assad regime should be made more accountable.
  • Include Russia and organise an all-out war against ISIS.

Finding a formula based solution which will end all tyranny is not practical but it’s time that Europe and US sit together and re-check their neo imperialistic and double faced foreign policies in West Asia and Middle East.

Also Western powers should stop Saudi Arabia from funding Wahhabis ideology being spread in Middle East society which is resulting in more Islamic fundamentalism helping organisations like ISIS and Boko—Haram.

To all those who oppose to support refuges,“Recognize yourself in he and she who are not like you and me.”   – Carlos Fuentes.

INDIA-GERMANY

Introduction  

Bilateral relations between Germany and India are based on a sound foundation of mutual respect, understanding and support. The cooperation between both countries covers a wide range of areas from political action and growing economic exchange to landmark cultural events.

It is complementary as India and Germany both contribute their particular and unique strengths to this truly strategic partnership.  

The relationship, based on common values of democracy and rule of law has gained significantly in strength in the 1990s following India’s economic liberalization and the end of cold War. The strategic partnership between India and Germany gained light with the signing of Germany and India cooperate closely on the issue of UNSC expansion within the framework of G-4.

Historical Background  

  • The history of Indo-German political relations goes back to the late nineteenth century, when the ‘Imperial German Consulate’ (Kaiserlich Deutsches Generalkonsulat) started operating from Calcutta (now Kolkata).  
  • As one of the first countries, India diplomatically acknowledged and accepted the Federal Republic of Germany after the end of the Second World War in 1945. The diplomatic recognition of Germany by the Indian government smoothened the way for a long lasting and continuous relationship for over 60 years up to the present day.  
  • Thus, in 1951, the Indian Union and Germany decided to establish economic relationships to gear up their partnership. With that in mind, the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made his first visit to post-war Germany and its first Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (Christian Democratic Union – CDU) in the same year.  
  • Also, Germany established its Consulate General in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1951, leading of the establishment of a full-fledged Embassy in New Delhi in 1952

Importance of Germany for India

India and Germany share strong bilateral relations extending over economic, cultural and security issuesECONOMIC IMPORTANCE 

  • Germany is the largest trade-partner of India in Europe.
  • Germany’s importance can be traced from the fact that India has announced a Fast-Track mechanism for German Companies in the DIPP.
  • Germany’s looks forward to employ young Indian labour to overcome its demographic deficit.

STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE 

  • India and Germany seek a permanent seat with veto powers at the United Nations Security Council and have joined with Japan and Brazil to co-ordinate their efforts via the G4 collective.

SECURITY IMPORTANCE 

  • Technologically advanced Germany can contribute a lot to India to strengthen its security programs. Currently, both nations are holding meetings on Counter-Terrorism and Cyber-Dialogues.
  • Germany supports India’s membership to NSG and MTCR(Missile Technology and Control Group.

ROLE OF GERMANY IN INDIA’s RENEWABLE ENERGY SECTOR 

  • Germany has invested heavily in the Green Energy Corridors Partnership and has extended co-operated in the India-Germany Solar Energy Partnership which can help India achieve its target of 175 GW by 2022. 
  • Germany has also extended its help to India’s National Electric Mobility Mission which can reduce the dependence on the fossils.

German Economy  

Germany – the fifth largest economy in the world in PPP terms and Europe’s largest – is a leading exporter of  machinery, vehicles, chemicals, and household equipment and benefits from a highly skilled labor force  German Economy contracted by 5.1% in 2009 but grew by 3.6% in 2010, and 3.1% in 2011.

The recovery was attributable primarily to rebounding manufacturing orders and exports – increasingly outside the Euro Zone. The worsening euro-zone financial crisis and the financial burden it places on Germany as well as falling demand for German exports has made domestic demand a more significant driver of Germany’s economic expansion.  

Economic Relations  

  • Germany is India’s most important trading partner within the European Union and the sixth most important trading partner in worldwide comparison. Since the beginning of the Indian reform policy in 1990, the bilateral trade volume has risen from 2.7 billion Euro to 16 billion Euro in 2014.  
  • Germany is the 8th largest foreign direct investor in India since 2000. German FDI in India during the period 1991-February 2015, was valued at US$ 8.25 billion. German FDI in India in 2014 was to the tune of US$ 1.15 Indian investments in Germany have also shown a remarkable increase in the last few years and have invested over US $ 6 billion in Germany, mainly through M&As.  
  • In the first 7 months of 2015, the bilateral trade volume compared to the previous year rose by 13%. German exports rose by 17.5%, while imports from India rose by 8,1%. The German trade surplus of around 1.9 billion Euro in 2014 is based on a high demand for German capital goods.
  • These are machinery that amount to a third of German exports to India, as well as electronic technology, metal ware, chemicals, automobiles and automotive parts. Indian exports to Germany consist mainly of textiles, chemicals, electronic technology, metal ware, leather and foods.

 

Angela Merkel Visit to India 2016

Bilateral relations between the Republic of India and the Germany have been traditionally strong due to commercial, cultural and technological co-operation. German Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to India for the Third Indo- German Inter-Governmental Consultations.

A total of 18 agreements were signed, which covered a wide range of topics — from skill development to education, science and technology to aviation.

Highlights of the visit

  • Germany returned to India a 10th century Durga idol that had gone missing from a temple in Kashmir over two decades ago.

“Fast-track clearance mechanism”:

  • In a bid to attract German investment, India decided to set up a “fast-track clearance mechanism”. The only other such country-specific mechanism is for Japan.
  • The fast-track system for German companies will be taken care of by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), and will become operational by March 2016.
  • The two leaders also underlined the importance of freedom of navigation in international waters and the right of passage and other maritime rights in accordance with international law, in an apparent reference to growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea.
  • Germany has expressed its inability to sign the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with India, citing its provision for “death penalty” for heinous crimes and terror activities.
  • India and Germany agreed to resume talks towards a free trade agreement between Asia’s third-largest economy and the European Union.
  • Germany is India’s largest trading partner in the E.U. and one of the top ten global trading partners.
  • The overall exchange of goods and services between the two countries was valued at around around 15.96 billion euros last year, a drop of €1.14 billion from the level of €16.10 billion registered in 2013.
  • German Chancellor highlighted problems that German businesses have faced in operating in India, and hoped that the new agreement for a special “fast-track” mechanism would help them secure licences and clearances expeditiously.

Cooperation in clean energy:

  • The two countries agreed on the India Germany Climate and Renewable Energy Alliance — a comprehensive partnership to harness technology, innovation and finance in order to make affordable, clean and renewable energy accessible to all.
  • Germany has committed to providing an assistance of over 1 billion Euros for India’s Green Energy Corridor and a new assistance package of over 1 billion Euros for solar projects in India.

Germany is India’s “natural ally”

  • India’s natural partners would be countries that, on the one hand, do not compete with it either in the Market place or in power politics, and, on the other, have something to offer India that it lacks.
  • By assisting India in the quest for development and geo-economic growth, Germany has the opportunity to bolster their own rise in geopolitical terms.
  • Germany has surplus capital, modern technology and a demographic deficit.
  • India has a deficit of capital, lacks modern technology and has exportable human capital.

UN Security Council reform

Germany and India are vigorously pursuing UN security reform along with Japan and Brazil.

INDIA AND FRANCE

  • Relations between India and France have traditionally been close and friendly. With the establishment of strategic partnership in 1998, there has been a significant progress in all areas of bilateral cooperation. President François Mr. Hollande was Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade.
  • The relationship is based on shared values and real convergence on a whole range of regional and global issues.
  • France was the first country with which India entered into an agreement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation.
  • France has consistently supported India’s increasing role in international fora, including India’s permanent membership of the UNSC.

Trade relation

  • India-France trade hovers around $8 billion, which is half of India’s trade with UK or Germany. A big reason for this is the impasse in India’s economic relations with the European Union.
  • More than a thousand French companies have a total investment of about $20 billion in India.

Strategic partnership

  • In the post-Cold War period, France was the first country with which India established a ‘strategic partnership’. The only major Western power that described the U.S. as a “hyperpuissance” (hyperpower) and openly espoused the virtues of multi-polarity found a natural ideological convergence with India’s ambitions of seeking strategic autonomy.
  • After the nuclear tests in May 1998, when India declared itself a nuclear state, France was the first major power to open talks with the country.
  • The strategic dialogue has been institutionalized at the level of National Security Advisors, and covers nuclear, defence, space and counter-terrorism, cyber security issues.
  • These have been given a boost by the agreement on intelligence-sharing and cooperation on investigations and judicial processes.

Rafale deal

  • India would buy 36 of the fighter planes in flyaway condition, citing critical operational requirements of the Indian Air Force.
  • The two countries have signed a MoU on purchase of Rafale fighter jets.

Nuclear agreement

  • The Jaitapur project, where French company Areva is to set up six nuclear reactors with a total power generation capacity of about 10,000 MW, has been stuck for long because of differences over the cost of the power generated.
  • Both countries have decided to clear the logjam by splitting the problem into different silos — allowing for separate mechanisms for the pricing issues and for the technical and legal aspects.

Solar energy

  • French President inaugurated the interim Secretariat of the International Solar Alliance at Gurgaon.
  • The French Development Agency will allocate for the development of solar energy €300 million over the next five years.
  • The International Solar Alliance, envisaged to bring together 122 countries that lie wholly or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, is an initiative announced by Mr. Modi at the COP 21 Summit in Paris in November 2015. The member countries are to be those that enjoy 300 or more days in a year of bright sunlight.

INDIA AND ITALY

Italian marine case

An international arbitration tribunal has ruled that Italian marine can return to Italy until it decides a dispute raised by Italy about India’s jurisdiction to try him and his colleague for the killing of two Indian fishermen in February 2012.

Subsequent to tribunal ruling, The Supreme Court ruled that Girone (Italian marine) can return to Italy while an international tribunal decides on a jurisdictional issue between India and Italy. The Supreme Court laid down conditions for releasing Mr. Girone.

  • He continues to remain under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and report to the local police station in Italy once every month. Also, the Italian authorities will keep the Indian embassy informed.
  • Envoy’s responsibility: The Italian Ambassador will take the responsibility of ensuring his return within a month in case the tribunal rules in favour of trial in India.

Background of the Case

Two Italian marines-Massimiliano Latorre and Mr. Girone are facing the charge of murdering two Indian

fishermen in 2012 off the Kerala coast.

Italy position

  • The Italian position is that the two marines positioned on board a merchant tanker, theEnrica Lexie, had opened fire to thwart what they perceived as a pirate attack 20.5 nautical miles off Kochi.
  • It is further argued that the death of the two Indian fishermen occurred in the course of the discharge of their operational duties, and hence functional immunity could be invoked as related to the military personnel of any nation.
  • Italy argues that the case should not be heard in India because the incident occurred in international waters.

India’s position

India has steadfastly rejected Italian argument and has invoked its sovereign right to prosecute the accused under the provisions of Indian law.

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)

In June 2015 Italy approached the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg.

  • The tribunal is adjudicating only on the limited question of whether India or Italy has the jurisdiction to try the two marines.
  • In August 2015 ITLOS ordered that: “Italy and India shall both suspend all court proceedings and refrain from initiating new ones which might aggravate or extend the dispute submitted to the Annex VII arbitral tribunal or might jeopardise or prejudice the carrying out of any decision which the arbitral tribunal may render.”
  • Subsequent to the ITLOS ruling, both parties agreed that the dispute would be resolved under the UNCLOS tribunal.

May 2, 2016: A U.N. arbitration court rules that India should release Italian marine Salvatore Girone.

  • International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)
  • It is an intergovernmental organization created by the mandate of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. It was established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, signed at Montego Bay, Jamaica, on December 10, 1982.
  • The tribunal is based in Hamburg, Germany.
  • The Tribunal has the power to settle disputes between party states.

INDIA-UK

Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit the UK in almost a decade.

  • The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to working together to build such an enhanced and transformative partnership for the betterment of their two countries and the world.
  • India and the U.K. announced an enhanced defence and strategic partnership as well as a civil nuclear agreement
  • Both countries for the first time, jointly pushing for the UN comprehensive convention on international terrorism (CCIT), and strengthening strategic cooperation and intelligence-sharing through annual consultations.
  • £9.2 Billion of commercial deals between the UK and India announced during the visit and listed in the annex.
  • Both countries announced three UK-India city partnerships with Indore, Pune and Amravati to support India’s ambitious urban development goals through technical assistance, expertise sharing and business engagement.
  • Both countries have launched a new Thames/Ganga partnership for healthy river systems. This partnership will consist of a collaborative programme of research and innovation to enable the sustainable management of water resources in the Ganga basin and a policy expert exchange in 2016 supported by the UK Water Partnership.
  • Announcement of setting up of joint India-UK Vaccine Development collaboration between the Department of Biotechnology and Research Councils, UK.

Trade and investment

  • U.K. is the largest G20 investor in India, while India invests more in the U.K. than the rest of the European Union combined. India has also emerged as the third largest source of FDI for the U.K. Indian companies employ 110,000 people in the UK.
  • Foreign direct investment inflows from Britain to India between April 2000 and March 2016 were worth $23.1 billion. The UK has accounted for 8.56% of total foreign direct investment in India during the last 15 years.
  • Bilateral trade has stalled at the level of $ 15-16 billion.

Visa issue

  • India has conveyed its concerns to the UK authorities about the new British immigration law that will impact professionals earning below 35,000 pounds annually.
  • Thousands of Indians and other nationals from outside the European Union (EU) living and working in Britain on a tier-2 visa may have to leave or be deported if they earn less than €35,000 a year once the terms of the visa expire.
  • Indian professionals have formed the largest category of individuals issued such visas by the UK over the years.
  • Indian professionals are also facing visa related challenges in other countries, including the U.S. India has dragged the U.S. to the WTO over its decision to impose high fees on temporary working visas.

Issue of Pakistan

  • India believes that the UK should take a tougher line with Pakistan on terrorism. The UK argues that it needs to maintain a positive relationship with Pakistan, not least because of the size of the Pakistani diaspora.

UK PM visit to India 2016

In November 2016 Prime Minister of United Kingdom Theresa May was on three day visit to India, and it was her maiden visit to India after becoming Prime Minister of UK. India and United Kingdom enjoys the cordial relations since long time. Both countries are considered as two pillars of the Commonwealth, sharing democratic values and a world view on many political issues including terrorism. 

Key Agreements signed during the visit

  • UK’s PM Theresa May offered frequent registered traveller scheme for Indians travelling to Britain for business.  
  • The UK is also planning to restrict immigration through “work and study routes” which will have an impact on Indians being hired by British firms.
  • Both countries reaffirmed the importance of the strategic partnership between both and it delivers huge benefits for both countries. 

About the traveller Scheme  

Under the scheme, Indian nationals frequently visiting to the U.K. and contributing to growth in both countries will have a ‘significantly easier’ entry process including fewer forms to be filled, access to the EU-EEA passport controls, swifter passage through airports.

It will give a boost to trade and investment in both the∙ countries and strengthen ties between two nations.

About the Immigration Scheme

As per the proposal  

  • Immigration system will be re-looked if it provides the right incentives for businesses to invest in British workers.  
  • From December 2016, landlords renting out property to people with no right to be in the UK will be committing a criminal offence and could go to prison.  
  • Immigration checks will be a mandatory requirement for those wanting to get a licence to drive a taxi.  
  • From 2017, banks will have to do regular checks to ensure they are not providing essential banking services to illegal migrants.

Prospective impacts of the Immigration Scheme  

  • The tightened immigration will “ensure gaps in the UK’s labour market.  
  • The crackdown will affect students from India planning to study in the UK; their numbers are already at an all-time low.  
  • The move may make it difficult for British firms to hire from outside the EU, including countries like India.

 

BREXIT

Brexit is a term used to define United Kingdom coming out of EU. Recently in a referendum conducted in United Kingdom, UK voted by a narrow margin in favour of Brexit. Negotiations are undergoing currently between United Kingdom and European Parliament to negotiate the terms of the exit deal.

About EU

European Union or EU is an experiment to transform the relations between nations based on functionalist ideology. It envisages to transform the relations between nations by enmeshing them in economic, social, cultural, political partnership. EU is currently a block of 28 countries and 19 countries have formed Eurozone.

Formation of European Union is an outcome of Single European Act, 1991. 
Mashtricht Treaty converted the EU into a monetary union.
Lisbon Treaty strengthened political, foreign affairs and security integration of policies of countries of European Union

Constitutional Provision of Brexit:

Brexit
source

Lisbon Treaty (Article 50) provides for exit of member countries from European Union. For any country to come out of European Union, it has to negotiate a deal with EU. The deal will provide for a settlement between EU and UK

Opinion of Political Groups

  • UK Independence Party, under the leadership of Nigel Farrage led the “Leave” campaign of UK
  • Labour Party, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn led the “Stay”’ campaign of UK
  • David Cameron, ex PM of UK agreed to hold a referendum on Unikted Kingdom’s future in EU. Conservatives were in favour of staying in EU

Why the clamour for Brexit

  • Economic reasons – The primary contention was that economically, Britain loses more than what it gains.
    1. The first issue being that of membership fees paid – about 340 pounds per year per household
    2. Secondly, it was said that EU’s policies were too protectionist and did not favour competitiveness to the extent that would be beneficial for the British economy
    3. Post the Sovereign Debt Crisis, EU introduced Fiscal Compact and tighter control on national budgets. Britain was not comfortable with these ideas
    4. Germany’s proposal to impose taxes on financial transactions (Tobin Tax) also did not find favour with London, which is an important financial hub.
  • Immigration issues
    1. Half of British legal migrants come from EU. There is this feeling that they have a negative impact on UK born workers. Adding credence to local fears was the fact that since 1997, 3/4th of jobs created are taken up by EU immigrants
    2. EU’s obligation on its members to accommodate more refugees also did not find favour with UK. Especially at a time when the refugee influx in Europe is at an all time high in light of multiple crisis in Middle East and Africa
    3. There is also this perception that immigrants pose a threat to national security
  • Sovereignty Issue
    1. EU is a transformative idea in many senses. One of the things that it leads to is the weakening of national sovereignty. EU has been pushing for creation of an Ever Closer Union which would accord greater decision making powers to European Parliament, while, limiting the authority of British Parliament.

Impact of Brexit:

On UK Economic

  1. EU is a large market. 45% of British exports are directed towards EU. EU is the largest market for UK’s exports and one of the major sources of UK’s imports. Except Germany and Sweden, UK has a positive Balance of Trade with all other countries of EU. Post Brexit, access to EU markets would suffer for UK
  2. Britain has emerged as a major financial hub. Post Brexit, the financial/services sector in UK would take a hit. We have already seen the London Exchange soaring down post Brexit
  3. Immigrants to EU are better educated and skilled and offset the demographic disadvantage. That advantage will be lost for UK.

Geopolitical

  1. It raises questions over the future of Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their desire to stay in Uk was preconditioned on UK remaining a part of EU. The Scots have already started demanding for a referendum on Scotland’s futute in UK. Even in Northen Ireland violence erupted post the Brexit vote
  2. In an interconnected world, being a part of multilateral organizations is key to influence policy matters. No country can do it alone in a rapidly changing international environment. Similarly UK would lose some of its leverage now that it has voted for Brexit. Pursuit of sovereignty in purist terms in an interconnected world is a utopian idea

On EU

  1. The idea of EU stands challenged. EU whose origin lied in the centuries of war that ravaged Europe was a transformative idea in international relations, enmeshing countries in cooperation. With the exit of UK, there is a possibility of other countries such as Greece etc to follow suit. Thus the idea of EU stands challenged.
  2. EU is currently under multiple crisis emanating from financial slowdown, Russian challenge, security concerns. EU and Britain separately would not be able to handle a resurgent Russia. Similarly to deal with the security threats in Europe requires countries to act in concert and not independently

 

On India

Cons

  1. The immediate impact of Brexit is an increase in risk aversion when it comes to investing, especially in light of the possibility of other countries following suit. This will affect the FPI outflows from foreign portfolio investors.
  2. Rupee may depreciate because of the double effect of foreign fund outflow and dollar rise
  3. IANS report says that Britain ranks 12th in terms of India’s bilateral trade with individual countries. It is also among 7 in top 25 countries with which India enjoys a trade surplus. India invests more in UK than the rest of Europe combined, emerging as the 3rd largest FDI investor. Access to European markets, therefore, is a key driver for Indian companies setting shop in UK. Britain coming out of EU is likely to affect the business prospects of these companies.
  4. Nasscom in a recent report held that IT and ITeS industry of India will have a negative impact of close to $108bn. The impact can be seen in medium term (2-3 years). Indian IT companies with European headquarters in the UK would need to spend on infrastructure and staff for setting up a new office in the EU. (There are approximately 800 Indian companies in Britain)
  5. Immigration (student and professional): Work-related visa restrictions have already resulted in a fall in the number of Indian students in the UK. Following Brexit, the number of Indian students applying to UK universities and colleges might reduce further. Sceptics also fear that visitation rights of relatives who have families in UK might also be affected. Also, those applying for visas in Britain may face a hard time. With Brexit, the government’s stance on immigration will likely curb overall immigration into the country.

Pros

  1. While on the positive side, Brexit has driven away fears of a US Fed rate hike and could lead to lower commodity prices
  2. UK loses a huge preferential market in the EU and would seek to build new alliances and trade pacts. India being one of the the fastest growing economies is rightly poised to gain from this development. The migration of EU skilled labour would decrease and english speaking Indian talent pool is definitely going to benefit out of it.
  3. Indian students should be able to secure more financing for their college degree, as preferential scholarships to EU countries will reduce. This would mean India could be seen exporting more talent than present levels.
  4. Devaluation of rupee might enhance India’s export competitiveness.
  5. The positive side will be the trade deals with india. Indo-Eu bilateral trade agreement has not made much headway in years so we may be able to strike a better agreement with UK. 
  6. Also, let us not forget than India is a former colony of Britain and a member of Commonwealth of Nations. With UK separated from EU, it would want to create new economic alliances and may tilt towards its former colonies. 

 

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