The European Union holds big strategic importance for India as it is the world's largest economic bloc. Both are working towards enhancing the EU-India strategic partnership, which is expected to provide stability in an unsettled world. The EU and India are committed to cooperate in all areas of mutual interest.
The EU is India's single largest trading partner; besides working closely with India for sustainable economic development and job creation; and there are plans to counter China's One Belt and Road initiative.
India and the EU established a strategic partnership in 2004 that is based on the shared values and principles of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the promotion of peace and stability.
At the 14th summit in New Delhi, on October 6, a comprehensive action plan to combat international terrorism was adopted. Europe has come under a series of terror attacks in the recent past, and has therefore decided to expand scope and ambit of counter-terror partnerships.
In a joint address to the media, Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker declared, "We have agreed to work together against terrorism and expand security cooperation in this regard. We will not only cooperate on this issue at the bilateral level but also at the global level."
Tusk in his remarks said that India and the EU were two of the world's largest democracies and both sides had agreed to develop the political dimension of the relationship. He added, "We adopted a joint declaration on counter-terrorism to deal effectively with the threat posed by foreign terrorists, terror financing and arms supply arms supply. We agreed to cooperate for security in the Indian Ocean region and beyond."
Both India and the EU condemned the nuclear test conducted by North Korea on 3 September 2017. The EU and India called for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and for all UNSC sanctions to be fully implemented by the entire international community.
On the Iranian nuclear issue, India and the EU reaffirmed their support for the continued full implementation of the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA).
On Ukraine, the leaders underlined their strong support for a diplomatic solution through full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all parties.
Other discussions pertained to global migration and refugee crisis, and agreed to coordinate closely. "The international community has a responsibility to crack down on human smugglers that exploit vulnerable people and violate sovereign borders,” Tusk said.
Both India and the EU reaffirmed their support to the UN reform agenda and commitment to stronger global governance. A joint statement on clean energy and climate change was adopted while stressing commitment to the Paris Agreement, and agreeing to step up cooperation on its implementation.
Both sides called for an end to violence towards the Rohingya minority in Myanmar and for peace to prevail in the Rakhine state. "The Rohingya people must be able to return voluntarily, in safety and dignity. We call for the implementation of the recommendations of the international Rakhine Advisory Commission to tackle the root causes of this crisis."
The European Union has been pushing for adoption of a Free Trade Agreement to improve trade partnership with India. Britain’s exit from the EU is likely to positively impact the European bloc’s long-drawn negotiations over a FTA with India.
India's high import duty on liquor from Scotland is seen as a hurdle, which would no longer be a factor post-Brexit. India is the world’s largest market for whisky, which is highly protected by prohibitive tariffs.
EU's Erasmus Scholarships
This year, the EU is celebrating 30 years of the Erasmus exchange programme, one of its most successful initiatives. To mark this anniversary, authorities celebrated EU-India cooperation for higher education; India is the overall single largest beneficiary of the Erasmus program outside of Europe.
Almost 150 Indian students go to Europe under the EU-financed Erasmus scholarships. Nearly 50 new Indian universities are involved in recently awarded EU-financed cooperation projects with European universities. Five Indian professors have received prestigious Jean Monnet grants for EU studies.
Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador of the European Union to India, congratulated Indian students for their excellent showing. He was speaking at an event held on August 23 to mark the anniversary of the EU's scholarship and education mobility programme Erasmus.
"Since 2004 Erasmus was thrown open to third countries, Indian students have been the number one beneficiaries of this scholarship," Kozlowski remarked, adding that there is growing interest on both sides to expand the number of Indian students. "Europe is an excellent destination for international students on account of the high quality and wide variety of courses on offer, the richness of campus life and the proximity to Asia".
Students of the outgoing batch as well as Erasmus scholars from previous batches were present at the function, together with education administrators and diplomats from India and the European Union.