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Bridging with EU Nations

India-EU relations date to the early 1960s, with India being amongst the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the European Economic Community

A cooperation agreement signed in 1994 took the bilateral relationship beyond trade and economic cooperation. The EU is India’s third largest trading partner, accounting for €88 billion worth of trade in goods in 2021 or 10.8% of total Indian trade. India is the EU’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for 2.1% of EU trade in goods. In 2022, the EU and India will celebrate 60 years of bilateral relations. India and the EU also interact regularly at the Foreign Ministers level. Both sides have recently instituted Foreign Policy Consultations at the level of Secretaries. A bilateral Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism reports to the Security Dialogue, as do the dialogues on Cyber-Security and Counter-Piracy. Both sides have recently agreed to the institution of a dialogue on nuclear proliferation and disarmament as well under the umbrella of the Security Dialogue. An annual India-EU Ad-hoc Dialogue on Human Rights is held in New Delhi, and there is also a Delhi-based Joint Working Group on Consular Issues. In addition, a high-level Dialogue on Migration and Mobility has been instituted at the Secretary level between the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and DG Home Affairs. As a bloc of 28 countries, the EU is India’s largest trading partner. The EU is also one of the largest sources of Foreign Direct Investment for India. The India-EU Joint Commission dealing with economic and commercial issues, meets annually, as do its three Sub-Commissions on Trade, Economic Cooperation and Development Cooperation. Some 6,000 European companies are present in India, providing 1.7 million jobs directly and five million jobs indirectly in a broad range of sectors. Indian investments in the EU are estimated at around Euro 50 billion. India and the EU also established an Investment Facilitation Mechanism (IFM) in 2017, under which Invest India has created a single window entry point for EU companies proposing to invest in India. In addition, there are Joint Working Groups on Textiles and Clothing, Agriculture and Marine Products, Technical Barriers to Trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Issues, Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology, and Food Processing Industries, which meet regularly to enhance sector-specific cooperation. The India-EU Science and Technology Steering Committee meets annually to discuss S&T collaboration.

India and the EU set up an Energy Panel in 2005 for greater energy and security cooperation. Separate sub-groups have been constituted under the panel dealing with coal and clean coal conversion technologies, energy efficiency and renewable energy, etc. A Joint Working Group on the Environment has been created for the prevention of pollution, waste minimization, protection of biological diversity, sustainable forest management, and environmental education. An Environmental Forum bringing together academia, business and civil society from India and EU countries to exchange views on specific ecological issues also meets annually. The India-EU Forum has emerged as an important Track II forum for discussion between policy analysts on both sides. It is led by the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the Indian Council of World Affairs and includes academics and think tank participation.

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