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DSAS: Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia

The European Parliament's Delegation for relations with South Asia maintains relation with six countries in the region: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan.

All these countries are members of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), with which the Delegation also works. SAARC also includes two countries not covered by the Delegation for relations with South Asia: Afghanistan and India. (Bilateral relations between the European Parliament and these two countries are handled by separate delegations.)

Members and Chair

The Delegation for relations with South Asia counts 15 full members, and the same number of substitute members.

The Chair of the Delegation is Baroness Nosheena Mobarik, a British Member of the ECR Group. She is supported by two Vice-Chairs: John Howarth (S&D, UK) and Milan Zver (EPP, SL).

Basis for relations with the EU

The EU's relations with the six countries covered by the Delegation are based on different legal frameworks, which reflect diverse patterns of trade, investment, development cooperation, technical assistance and cultural links.

The EU has "Cooperation Agreements" with Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. While these do not all spell out a formal forum for inter-parliamentary exchanges, political dialogue is part of the agreement.

Inter-parliamentary meetings

The Delegation aims to hold inter-parliamentary meetings with each country in a regular manner, with venues alternating between Europe and the partner country.

The agendas for these meetings usually include items regarding:

  • political, trade and economic issues
  • human rights
  • SAARC cooperation
  • global issues of common interest (e.g. climate change)
  • bilateral relations with the EU.

When members of the Delegation travel to the region, they are often received by speakers of parliament, foreign ministers and prime ministers or presidents. The delegation has also met with the EU's Heads of Mission and with business and civil society representatives.

Delegation meetings

In addition to the inter-parliamentary meetings, the Delegation holds regular meetings to monitor developments in South Asia of interest to the EU.

South Asian ambassadors and officials from the European External Action Service and the European Commission are regularly invited to participate in the meetings. Speakers from think tanks, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and national or international organisations are invited on a case-by-case basis.

Advancing Parliament's priorities

The Delegation's activity has allowed the Parliament's 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 issues - and the enhanced role of the European Parliament established by the Lisbon Treaty.