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Wednesday, 13 September 2017 - Strasbourg Final edition
EU political relations with India

European Parliament resolution of 13 September 2017 on EU political relations with India (2017/2025(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the EU-India Strategic Partnership, established in 2004 and to the India-EU Strategic Partnership Joint Action Plan of 7 September 2005,

–  having regard to the ‘EU-India Agenda for Action-2020’ adopted at the 13th EU-India Summit and to the Joint Statement of the same summit,

–  having regard to the EU Global Strategy for the Foreign and Security Policy of June 2016,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 4 September 2001 entitled ‘Europe and Asia: A Strategic Framework for Enhanced Partnerships’ (COM(2001)0469),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 234/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 establishing a Partnership Instrument for cooperation with third countries(1),

–  having regard to its recommendation of 28 October 2004 to the Council on EU-India relations(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 September 2005 on EU-India relations: A Strategic Partnership(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 September 2008 on the preparation of the EU-India Summit (Marseille, 29 September 2008)(4),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on India, including the ones on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law,

–  having regard to its resolution of 2 February 2012 on EU foreign policy towards the BRICS and other emerging powers: objectives and strategies(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 April 2016 on the EU in a changing global environment – a more connected, contested and complex world(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 May 2012 on maritime piracy(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 October 2016 on nuclear security and non-proliferation(8),

–  having regard to the mission of its Committee on Foreign Affairs to India of 21-22 February 2017,

–  having regard to the 11th Asia-Europe (ASEM) Summit, held in Ulaanbaatar on 15-16 July 2016, and of the 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership (ASEP) meeting, held in Ulaanbaatar on 21-22 April 2016, and to the respective declarations adopted by both meetings,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the position in the form of amendmentsof the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0242/2017),

A.  whereas the EU and India are the world’s two largest democracies, which both draw on deep cultural histories and are jointly committed to the promotion of peace, stability, security, prosperity, sustainable development and social justice, as well as to the respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and good governance;

B.  whereas the EU and India have built over the last two decades a Strategic Partnership founded on shared values and interests, given that they are natural partners and factors of stability in the present multipolar world; whereas this Strategic Partnership should be deepened, as it has a high potential for bringing about a new dynamic at international level, including at the UN, and for addressing issues such as the Sustainable Development Goals or people-to-people contacts;

C.  whereas at the 13th EU-India Summit, which took place on 30 March 2016 following a four-year gap, a new roadmap was adopted for the Strategic Partnership for the next five years;

D.  whereas a number of Joint Declarations were adopted at the 13th EU-India Summit: on a common agenda on migration and mobility, on an India-EU water partnership, on a clean energy and climate partnership and on the fight against terrorism;

E.  whereas the EU and India, as important economic and trade and investment partners, and with the EU being India’s most important trading partner, have been engaged since 2007 in negotiations for an ambitious free trade and investment agreement, which should be concluded as soon as possible; whereas the EU-India Agenda for Action-2020 reaffirms the commitment of both parties to establishing a stable economic climate which is favourable to the expansion of trade and economic cooperation;

F.  whereas increased coordination between the EU and its Member States regarding their relationship with India would further allow the Strategic Partnership to be strengthened;

G.  whereas India is a vibrant democracy and an open society with a free press and an active civil society; whereas the EU and India have regularly exchanged best practices regarding human rights and democracy, including on issues of freedom of expression and association and the rule of law, as well as on the treatment of migrants, the respect for minorities and the promotion of equality between women and men, as the EU has committed to doing;

The solid foundations of a valuable partnership

1.  Expresses full support for a stronger and deeper partnership between the EU and India rooted in their powerful political, economic, social and cultural links and founded on the shared values of democracy, the respect for human rights and pluralism and on mutual respect and common interests;

2.  Considers that enhanced political relations between the two partners could positively contribute to fostering regional and international cooperation in a world that faces multiple global challenges, such as security tensions, disrespect for international law, terrorism, extremism and radicalisation, transnational organised crime and corruption, unregulated migration and human trafficking, the effects of climate change, poverty, inequality and disrespect for human rights, as well as growing populism;

3.  Highlights the fact that as the world’s two largest democracies, the EU and India have a common responsibility to promote the cause of peace, the rule of law and human rights around the world, including through their enhanced cooperation at UN level;

4.  Believes that the relationship between the EU and India has grown significantly in quality and scope since the Joint Political Statement of 1993; highlights the importance of the EU-India Strategic Partnership established in 2004 and meant to acknowledge their close ties and to take their relations to a higher and more intensive level;

5.  Highlights that the partnership between the EU and India has not yet reached its full potential; considers that stronger political engagement is needed on both sides to make the relationship more dynamic and valuable for the challenges the two partners face at regional and international level; calls for investment in the strengthening of ties between EU27 and India to be stepped up; underlines the importance of a full assessment of the functioning of the strategic partnership in generating ideas about the possible ways to advance it;

A stronger partnership for the EU’s and India’s mutual benefit

6.  Welcomes the holding of the 13th EU-India Summit in Brussels on 30 March 2016; urges the EU and India to hold summits on an annual basis, as they committed to, given that such high-level meetings positively contribute to increasing cooperation, mutual understanding and reciprocal visibility;

7.  Welcomes the endorsement of the EU-India Agenda for Action-2020, which is a roadmap for intensifying the Strategic Partnership over the next five years; takes positive note of the numerous areas of cooperation re-launched in 2016, such as security, the fight against terrorism, migration and mobility, trade, the transfer of technology and culture, climate change, development, energy and water; calls for the effective implementation of the Agenda with clear steps and deadlines;

8.  Reiterates its support for the establishment of a comprehensive and ambitious free trade agreement (FTA) between the EU and India, which should be economically, socially and politically valuable for both sides; recalls that the EU is the world’s leading trading block and that India has one of the highest rates of GDP growth worldwide; equally recalls that the EU is India’s primary partner in terms of trade and investment and that import and export flows between the two are relatively balanced;

9.  Takes positive note of the fact that the EU and India are re-engaging in discussions on the ways to proceed with negotiations on an FTA, which is also known as a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA); urges both sides, with a view to concluding the FTA as soon as possible, to proceed with the negotiations in a spirit of reciprocity and mutual benefit and by taking into account the international standards to which both sides have committed, including those set out within the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and International Labour Organisation, as well as the principle of corporate social responsibility; acknowledges that such an agreement, by being equally balanced towards the concerns of both sides, can ensure that measures benefit both European and Indian citizens, including by fighting poverty and promoting respect for human rights;

10.  Recommends the adoption at EU level of a consistent strategy for its relations with India, with clear priorities; draws attention to the importance of both the EU institutions and the Member States implementing such a strategy in a coherent and coordinated manner; considers that the EU’s priorities for India could also be defined in an updated strategy for EU-Asia relations;

11.  Welcomes the commitment of the European Investment Bank (EIB) to fostering long-term investment in India in infrastructure that is essential for economic, social and environmentally sustainable development; calls on the EIB to implement this commitment and strengthen its support for sustainable investment in India;

12.  Highlights the importance of interparliamentary structured dialogue for the functioning of the Strategic Partnership; encourages the Speaker of the Indian Parliament to form an India-Europe Friendship Group made up of parliamentarians from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and acting as a counterpart to the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the Republic of India;

A broad agenda for cooperation on foreign and security policies

13.  Reiterates that in today’s international environment, both the EU and India face pressing security challenges, which require a diplomatic response coupled with strengthened deterrence, respect for international law and cooperation among democratic states;

14.  Emphasises the significant potential for increased synergies between the EU and India with regard to foreign and security policy; is convinced that regular and consistent dialogue can pave the way for mutual understanding and, consequently, for increased coordination between the EU’s and India’s foreign affairs agendas at regional and international level, including on topics on which different approaches were adopted in the past;

15.  Welcomes the commitment made in the EU-India Agenda for Action-2020 to set up forums for Foreign Policy and Security Consultations; underlines the added value of increasing the frequency and weight of high-level exchanges in the area of foreign affairs and security;

16.  Calls for the EU, together with the Member States, and India to pursue and strengthen their efforts in promoting effective, rule-based multilateralism at global level; urges the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Council to support reform of the UN Security Council, including India’s bid for Permanent Membership; encourages the EU and India to coordinate as much as possible their positions and initiatives at UN level on issues where their cooperation could make a difference, but also in other international forums, such as the WTO;

17.  Acknowledges the valuable and intensified exchanges on issues of global concern taking place within the framework of the Asia-Europe Meeting – a multilateral cooperation forum that includes both the EU and India; supports regional integration processes in Asia, on both a political and economic level, as they can positively contribute to reducing the number of conflicts and to the prosperity of the region;

18.  Emphasises the significant added value of the cooperation between the EU and India in supporting democratic processes in Asia; underlines, moreover, the importance of the EU and India coordinating their humanitarian aid and development policies, in view of the high level of development activity undertaken by both sides in Asia, in order to positively contribute to the political, economic and social advancement in the countries concerned, including for minorities or stateless persons, such as Rohingyas; calls for dialogue to be stepped up to this effect;

19.  Notes the India-EU Joint Declaration on the fight against terrorism of 30 March 2016 aimed at reinforcing cooperation on preventing and countering radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism; underlines the importance of pursuing cooperation between the EU’s and India’s security and law enforcement services under the existing arrangement within Europol; recommends facilitating the exchange of best practices and information between India and the EU, including with its Member States; encourages both sides to advocate together the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at UN level, as well as the increase of effectiveness of the UN terrorist designations;

20.  Stresses the importance of deeper cooperation between the EU and India for Afghanistan, namely: contributing to an Afghan-led and -owned peace and reconciliation process, to the construction of stable institutions and a functioning state, and to the emergence of a political and economic environment that will allow the consolidation of peace and security; encourages, in particular, enhanced political coordination on security and military questions, development support and measures for addressing the regional context; emphasises that the ‘Heart of Asia’-Process represents an important forum for regional confidence-building and political cooperation;

21.  Calls for renewed efforts of rapprochement and the restoration of good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan through a comprehensive dialogue and possibly a step-by-step approach, starting with a discussion on technical issues and confidence-building measures, and ultimately leading to high-level political meetings; underlines the importance of the bilateral dimension in working towards the establishment of lasting peace and cooperation between India and Pakistan, which would positively contribute to the security and economic development of the region; underlines, moreover, the responsibility towards peace incumbent on both states as nuclear powers; calls for the EU to encourage and support the reconciliation process between India and Pakistan; stresses the utmost importance of combating terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, including state-sponsored terrorism;

22.  Recommends further cooperation on universal disarmament, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear security, objectives to which both the EU and India are committed; in this context, calls on all Member States to support India’s bid to accede to export control regimes such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group; welcomes the fact that India has ratified the IAEA Additional Protocol;

23.  Welcomes the firm stance of both India and the EU on the illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which constitute a threat to regional and international peace, and encourages further cooperation for ensuring wide implementation of the UN sanctions against the DPRK;

24.  Takes note of India’s concerns about China, particularly in view of the latter’s assertive policy in the South China Sea, substantial military modernisation, strategic relationship with Pakistan and unresolved border issues; considers that only genuine dialogue based on the principles of international law can contribute to overcoming those differences and building trust;

25.  Takes positive note of the support expressed at the 13th EU-India Summit by both sides for full implementation of the Minsk Agreement by all parties regarding the conflict in Eastern Ukraine; recalls that the EU has strongly condemned Russia’s aggressive actions and has a non-recognition policy of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol; hopes that, through dialogue, the EU and India could further align their positions;

26.  Encourages the EU and India to further exchange views, both during summits and during their regular foreign affairs and security consultations, on the situation in the Middle East and on areas of possible cooperation which could improve the stabilisation of the region, including through measures at international level; draws attention, in particular, to the importance of cooperation for ensuring a lasting political solution in Syria under the existing UN-agreed framework in line with the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 and for supporting post-agreement reconstruction and reconciliation, once a credible Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition is underway;

27.  Stresses that the EU and India could enhance their cooperation and exchange of best practices with regard to the African countries in order to ensure that their development efforts are complementary;

28.  Stresses the significant mutual benefits the EU and India could draw from intensifying their cooperation in areas such as maritime security, cyber security and data protection, as well as migration and mobility;

29.  Underlines the fact that the EU and India share vital interests and stresses that they should increase cooperation in the area of maritime security, notably with regard to counter-piracy, but also to preserving peace and stability and securing the sea line of communication in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean; recommends, therefore, the development of joint standard operating procedures in the area of maritime security and counter-piracy, as well as the development of a common understanding of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which takes into account the freedom of navigation, resolves all pending issues and identifies the most appropriate joint measures for cooperating within the framework of the convention;

30.  Welcomes the adoption of a Joint Declaration between the EU and India on a clean energy and climate partnership at the 13th EU-India Summit in March 2016; underlines the positive impact of India and the EU on negotiations towards the Paris Climate Agreement and the global leadership of both partners; urges both partners to step up their efforts to ensuring that all signatories implement the agreement; calls, in this regard, for the intensification of EU-India cooperation in the field of energy, and in the field of renewable energy in particular;

31.  Notes with interest the adoption of a Joint Declaration between the EU and India on a water partnership at the 13th EU-India Summit in March 2016; calls for the Union, therefore, to strengthen its cooperation with India and intensify its support for Indian sustainable water management projects such as ‘Clean Ganga’;

32.  Takes positive note of the Joint Declaration on a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility, which aims to provide a framework for cooperation on promoting regular migration, preventing irregular migration and trafficking in human beings and maximising the development impact of mobility;

33.  Considers that people-to-people exchanges should be one of the main dimensions of the strategic partnership between the EU and India; underlines, in particular, the importance of enhancing exchanges in the field of education, culture and scientific research, including IT, and welcomes, therefore, the increase in the number of student exchanges under the Erasmus+ programme, which should be further expanded; equally takes positive note of the prospects for cooperation in skills’ development and within the framework of the ‘Make in India’ initiative, as stated in the Agenda for Action-2020, and underlines their importance for intensifying trade and social relations; calls for the equal inclusion of female students, scientists, researchers and professionals in these programmes;

A strengthened exchange on the human rights dimension of the partnership

34.  Welcomes the reaffirmed commitment to intensified exchanges on the human rights dimension of the EU-India Strategic Partnership, as citizens of both sides can benefit from enhanced cooperation on numerous human rights issues; stresses, in particular, the need to strengthen exchange and coordination between the two partners within the framework of the UN, including in implementing the recommendations made under the Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights; equally underlines the importance of Human Rights Dialogues; notes that no exchange has taken place since 2013, and urges that a dialogue be held as soon as possible;

35.  Recalls its long-standing opposition to capital punishment in all cases and under all circumstances; reiterates its call for an immediate moratorium on executions in India;

36.  Recalls that freedom of expression and association are an integral part of a vibrant democratic society; understands the need to take measures to increase the transparency of, and introduce limitations to, activities funded by foreign actors that may pose a risk to peace and stability or to internal security; expresses concern, however, about the effects on freedom of expression and association of the current Indian law on foreign participation in the funding of NGOs (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act);

37.  Acknowledges the significant efforts made by the Indian authorities with a view to combating all forms of discrimination, including caste-based discrimination; notes with concern, however, that caste-based discrimination continues to be a source of abuse, and encourages India’s authorities, therefore, to strengthen their efforts to eradicate this violation of human rights; encourages India, furthermore, to ensure full protection of minorities, in particular religious and ethnic ones, and underscores the importance of promoting tolerance for diversity in preventing intercommunal violence; welcomes the fact that India’s Supreme Court ordered to reinvestigate the trials of anti-Christian violence in 2008 and to adequately compensate the victims;

38.  Urges India to ratify the Convention against Torture and its optional protocol and the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance;

39.  Considers that, in the context of the EU’s and India’s reaffirmed commitment to strengthening cooperation on human rights issues, women’s rights should be included on the agenda of Human Rights Dialogue between the two partners; welcomes the Indian Government’s commitment to improving women’s rights and introducing equality between women and men in policy programming, and encourages the Indian authorities to take further steps to investigate and prevent gender-based violence and promote gender equality; welcomes, moreover, the fact that the EU is funding projects in India addressing violence against women and children and recommends that this funding be maintained; calls for LGBTIQ rights to be improved and for section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to be repealed;

o   o

40.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, and the Government and Parliament of India.

(1) OJ L 77, 15.3.2014, p. 77.
(2) OJ C 174 E, 14.7.2005, p. 179.
(3) OJ C 227 E, 21.9.2006, p. 589.
(4) OJ C 8 E, 14.1.2010, p. 69.
(5) OJ C 239 E, 20.8.2013, p. 1.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0120.
(7) OJ C 261 E, 10.9.2013, p. 34.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0424.

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