EU-India: boosting cooperation from trade to climate

Cooperation between the EU and India has increased significantly in recent years. Discover how links could improve even further.

Sunset in  New Delhi: the EU is looking at ways to strengthen links with India
The EU and India have much to gain from forging closer links ©AdobeStock/KT759

The two global powers are looking at ways to deepen links. In June 2022, the EU and India relaunched negotiations for a comprehensive free trade agreement, with the hope of concluding by the end of 2023. During the 4-7 July plenary in Strasbourg, Parliament approved a report on how a future EU-India trade and investment cooperation should look. The report urges the negotiators to find solutions to long-standing market access issues in sectors such as cars, agriculture and pharmaceuticals. However, they should not compromise on content in favour of a speedy conclusion.

Why is there a need for a closer EU-India relationship?

As the world’s two largest democracies, the EU and India share many of the same values and face many of the same challenges, such as climate change. However, this cooperation has yet to reach its full potential, says the report. For the moment, there’s a need for closer EU and India cooperation to address the repercussions on food security of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

What is already in place?

The EU and India signed a strategic partnership in 2004, based on shared values and a commitment to a rules-based global order centred on multilateralism. Trade talks originally started in 2007, but had been frozen since 2013. In 2020, the EU and India endorsed a roadmap to 2025 for the strategic partnership. In 2021, Parliament adopted a report calling on the EU and India to work together to tackle geopolitical challenges.

EU-India economic relations

India is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, its gross domestic product increased by about 6% a year.

The EU is India’s third-largest trading partner and its leading foreign investor, while India is the EU’s ninth-largest trading partner and accounted for less than 2.1% of its total trade in goods in 2021.

Check out more facts and figures on the EU’s position in world trade

Closer links have already helped to increase trade and investment between the two partners. For example, EU-India trade increased by 70% from 2009-2019, while the EU’s share in foreign investment inflows increased from 8% to 18% during the same period.

About 6,000 European firms operate in India, providing 1.7 million jobs directly and about five million indirectly.

Read more on EU trade agreements

Fight against climate change

The EU and India, as the world’s third and fourth largest emitters of greenhouse gases, share a common interest in fighting climate change and facilitating the transition to a sustainable economy.

Promoting democracy and human rights

As the world’s largest democracies, the EU and India can help to promote human rights, democracy and gender equality.

However, in the resolution adopted in June 2022, MEPs expressed their “regrets” regarding India’s hesitancy to condemn Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and underlined the importance of democracies working together and aligning on core areas such as fundamental values.

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