The European Parliament's delegation for relations with South Asia was established in 2007, largely as the successor of the EP delegation for relations with the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation.
It thus covers all SAARC countries except Afghanistan and India (with whom bilateral delegations exist), i.e. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan. EU relations with these countries, while still developing, are based on different legal grounds, reflecting diverse patterns of intensity in commercial exchanges, investment flows, development cooperation, technical assistance, or cultural links.
Thus, Cooperation Agreements exist with Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. While these do not always explicitly foresee a parliamentary dimension, political dialogue is foreseen. In this spirit, meetings between legislators have regularly taken place, usually at the impulse of the EP Delegation: since 1981, more than 40 interparliamentary meetings have been held, covering all six countries.
While this activity has allowed EP priorities on democracy and human rights to be conveyed on the ground, it has also greatly helped MEPs in fulfilling their mandate - notably on trade-related issues, especially taking into account the enhanced role of the European Parliament after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.