History of the Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia

The European Parliament created a separate Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia (DSAS) in 2007.

Until then, the Parliament's delegation for the region was also responsible for relations with India. Splitting the old delegation into the current "Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia" and the "Delegation for relations with India" (D-IN) allowed the Parliament to acknowledge India's significance as a major regional player with global ambitions, while devoting sustained attention to each of the other South Asian countries.

The delegation's bilateral partnerships

Since then, the Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia has developed relations with its six partner countries - Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - according to each country's specificities.

The Delegation also works with the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the intergovernmental organisation that brings together the Delegation's six partner countries, as well as India and Afghanistan.

The intensity of bilateral exchanges between the EU and the country has generally varied depending on developments.

Parliamentary diplomacy has become an important instrument in relations with the countries of South Asia, and MEPs have been keen to enhance the EU's engagement when political, human rights and economic developments have required their efforts.

2009-2014 parliamentary term

During the European Parliament's seventh parliamentary term (2009-2014), the Delegation organised 35 official and more than 50 non-official meetings with the countries of South Asia.

Current parliamentary term

The Delegation has continued its busy programme during the Parliament's current, eighth term, which began with the European elections in 2014.

Highlights have included the visits of

  • the Sri Lankan Prime Minister
  • the Bhutanese Prime Minister,
  • a high-level Pakistani delegation from the National Assembly.

The Delegation has also travelled on official business to Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and lately to Bhutan.

An opportunity for the EU as a whole

The Delegation's dynamic schedule allows the European Parliament to monitor the EU's relations with the region.

More generally, the Delegation's efforts to further inter-parliamentary dialogue have contributed to EU-South Asia relations.

The Delegation has served as an early warning system, identifying possible obstacles in the relationship, as well as helping to build greater mutual understanding.