Dated October 12, 2010
(Keynote speech delivered by me on October 11,2010 at the inaugural session of an international workshop on “European Common Foreign and Security Policy – Implications for India” organised by the Department of Politics and International Studies, Pondicherry University)
1. EU-India diplomatic relations started in the early 1960s. These relations continued without a comprehensive legal and institutional framework till 1994. The Co-operation Agreement of 1994 laid the foundation for such a comprehensive framework. A comprehensive political dialogue at regular intervals since 2000 imparted a new dimension to the relations. This comprehensive political dialogue has been in the form of annual summits since 2000 and other regular meetings at the ministerial and experts levels.
2. There was value-addition in the subsequent years in the form of the concept of the EU-India Strategic Partnership launched in 2004, the adoption of the EU-India Joint Action Plan (the ‘JAP’) and the decision to initiate negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement. These negotiations have not yet culminated in an agreement. The 2008 summit laid down the following four priorities for the JAP— peace and comprehensive security, sustainable development, research and technology, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
3. A new addition has been the periodic EU-India Security Dialogue. Amongst the various subjects that have figured in the periodic political and security dialogues at the summit and sub-summit levels are: counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, crisis management, maritime security with special reference to co-ordinated action against Somali pirates and regional peace and security with specific reference to the developments in Afghanistan. India has not encouraged reported EU attempts to have the developments in Sri Lanka covered within the ambit of this dialogue. While there has been no attempt by the EU to have the Kashmir issue raised in the political dialogue, India was irked by attempts made by Mr.David Milliband, the former British Foreign Secretary, after the Mumbai 26/11 terrorist strikes to link the continuing use of terrorism by Pakistan against India with the so-called Kashmir dispute.
4. Under the security dialogue, India’s main interest has been in India-EU co-operation in Counter-terrorism and against Somali piracy. This interest has been reciprocated by the EU. Counter-terrorism co-operation has acquired added importance due to the role played by members of the Pakistani diaspora in Europe in assisting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Recent reports of the plans of Al Qaeda and the so-called German Taliban to organize Mumbai-26/11 style terrorist strikes in the UK, France and Germany in protest against their role in Afghanistan have added to our concerns. Despite this, the scope for India-EU counter-terrorism co-operation has remained limited due to the following reasons: