INDIA and EU: Standing together in solidarity
Independent India was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the then recently established European Economic Community in 1962. In 1994, India and the EU signed a cooperation agreement, broadening their ties on trade and economy to include consociation of culture and people. In 2004, economic cooperation between India and the EU culminated in the form of a ‘Strategic Partnership’. This relationship between India and the EU has only strengthened over the years, with its impact and importance acknowledged once again in 2019 with the renewal of the Strategic Partnership.
By means of the Strategic Partnership, in 2020, India and the EU launched a ‘Roadmap to 2025’ to help guide joint action between the regions and further augment their association. This roadmap highlights the priority areas of cooperation, a few of which, are detailed below:
- Foreign Policy and Security Cooperation: To further strengthen and expand EU-India dialogue mechanisms on foreign policy and security issues of common interest. Establish regular security consultations between the EU and India, focusing on exchange on strategic priorities, security issues, crisis management and peacekeeping.
- Trade, Investment, Business and Economy: Work towards balanced, ambitious and mutually beneficial trade and investment agreements along with strengthening mutual engagements through existing channels such as the EU-India Trade Sub-Commission.
- Sustainable, Urban and Environment Friendly Development: Sustainability-driven investments will lead to a more inclusive recovery post-COVID for the world. Both sides will work on increasing engagement between the European Commission and India’s energy ministries to ensure implementation of the work programme of the EU – India Clean Energy and Climate Partnership. EU and Indian businesses can also greatly benefit on partnerships in smart and sustainable urbanisation, waste management and promotion of circular economy.
- Global Governance: Effective multilateralism, connectivity, cooperation in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. Both sides will engage jointly in addressing global trade challenges in the WTO, to ensure the common objective of maintaining and strengthening a rules-based multilateral trading system.
- People-To-People: Explore partnerships in migration and mobility, establish dialogues in areas of employment and social policy, cooperation in field of Education and Culture.
The roadmap to 2025 showed the importance of global connectivity and the impact of cooperation on human lives for both the EU and India. In the time of global crisis during the COVID19 pandemic, India provided essential medicines such as paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine to many European Union member states, including France, UK, Germany, Italy and Netherlands. In the same vein, India was supported with critical medical equipment by EU member states during the deadly 2nd wave of the pandemic in the country.
During this second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, where India faced an overwhelming number of cases, our partners in European Union stayed true to our partnership to assist us in dealing with these unprecedented and difficult times. The European Union activated its EU Civil Protection Mechanism to provide aid to India. In addition, the EU announced a €2.2 Mn package in emergency funding to support the World Health Organisation’s measures to help India deal with increasing cases of COVID-19.
Netherlands sent the first shipment of COVID relief material containing 449 ventilators, 100 concentrators and other medical equipment.
France donated ventilators, test kits and other medical equipment along with extending financial support of € 200 Mn to India through the French Development Agency (AFD) to boost social welfare systems and protect vulnerable people. France’s President Emmanuel Macron launched the Solidarity Mission and in its first phase sent 28 tonnes of medical equipment including eight high-capacity oxygen generator plants to be deployed in hospitals in Delhi (6), Haryana (1) and Telangana (1). Germany assisted India with 330,000 coronavirus testing kits and 600,000 pieces of personal protective equipment [PPEs] and provided short term loans worth € 460 million.
In May, a flight from Italy, carrying 1 oxygen generating plant and 20 ventilators arrived in India. The plant was set up at ITBP Referral Hospital in Noida, Uttar Pradesh and was up and running within 48 hours, supporting 100+ beds with oxygen at a go.
Norway is contributing NOK 20 million ($ 2.4 Mn) in humanitarian assistance via the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to support the people of India in dealing with this crisis.
Greece and Finland sent a shipment carrying medical aid to India, while Spain is sending over 7 tonnes of medical supplies to help combat the virus.
Sweden has sent 200 cylinders to India and is working closely with the authorities to understand what additional aid can be supported by the country.
Denmark supported India with a shipment of 92 to oxygen concentrators.
Over and above EU and its members states, European companies have risen to occasion in supporting India in monetary and in kind donations of essential medical equipment.
The pandemic has posed challenging times for businesses globally. In these circumstances, Invest India has been working in close coordination with various government departments to support business continuity for European companies in India. This includes, but is not limited to, weekly calls with regional business chambers, webinars and one on one interactions with the industry.
India and the European Union have shown their solidarity and kinship to one another during this crisis. The support extended to each other during both waves is a testament to their shared value of humanitarianism and shows what can be achieved when these two great regions come together to work.
It is our hope and belief that this Strategic Partnership will go a long way in shaping a joint future of prosperity for EU and India.