RAMESH JAURA * IDN
Chancellor Angela Merkel
© European Community, 2007
27-nation bloc of European countries constituting the
European Union (EU) is keen to lend fresh impetus to
political and economic relations with India. The EU-India
summit to be held in New Delhi on 30th November will
provide an appropriate framework for the purpose.
European Commission has entrusted Ambassador and the new
head of the Delegation of the European Commission in
India, Ms Daniele Smadja, with the task. "I will
immediately start working . . . with my colleagues
from the EU," she said presenting her Letters of
Credence to India's Presdient Pratibha Patil at the
Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on 26th September.
said she was "also looking forward to the
negotiations for a broad-based trade and investment
agreement with India." Exploring with the Indian
government how the EU could update and upgrade the
cooperation agreement on partnership and development will
be one of her priorities, Smadja said.
EU launched a "strategic partnership" with India
at the Hague summit in 2004. The New Delhi summit one year
later endorsed a wide-ranging Joint Action Plan giving
substance to the strategic partnership.
Joint Action Plan covers all aspects of EU-India
relations, for which it proposes practical steps to be
achieved before 2008, when both parties are expected to
review and update the document.
is India's largest trading partner accounting for a fifth
of India’s trade. Two-way trade between the EU and India
crossed 46 billion euros (65 billion dollars) in 2006 –
equivalent to more than one billion dollars per week –
marking a growth of 16 percent over the previous year.
statistics show that EU holds the largest share of foreign direct
investment (FDI) inflow into India, at almost three billion dollars in
2006, accounting for one quarter of the total investment. Significantly,
there has been a major jump in India's outward FDI and the EU has become
the prime destination for India's outward investment, accounting for an
estimated 55 percent of the total.
money for India
relations are expected to be reinvigorated in the wake of a new Country
Strategy Paper for India 2007-2013 being completed. During her visit to
India last February, European Commissioner for External Relations and
European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero Waldner, announced that
the Commission is proposing substantial financial assistance to India
over the next seven years.
a result, an amount of 470 million euros (665 million dollars) will be
available 2007-2013 to support the implementation of the Joint Action
Plan, notably economic cooperation and sectoral dialogues, as well as
help India achieve its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the health
and education sectors. This represents a substantial increase compared
to money provided in the previous years.
Ferrero-Waldner said in New Delhi: "India is forging ahead. The
wants to play its part in the emergence of India as a more prosperous
nation, playing its role on the international stage on the key issues of
our day. We are designing our package to match India's own priorities
– economic reforms and progress in health and education – to cement
still further the partnership that we are building together."
Commission had committed 225 million euros (318 million dollars) for
India for the five years under their Country Strategy Paper 2002-2006.
One of the important elements sought to be introduced through the new
strategy was the deepening of cooperation with specific states of India
chosen, among others, on the basis of identified criteria of financial
resources, fiscal stability, governance and transparency.
relations have acquired a new dimension in another significant field:
More than 500 Indian students and scholars from all over India have
secured admission to a large number of European universities spread all
over the 27 EU member states owing to the 'Erasmus Mundus' (EM)
scholarship funded by the European Union, and are leaving or have
already left India to join their respective Masters level courses in the
academic session 2007–2008.
The European Commission allocated a 33 million euros (46.7 million
dollars) in 2005 for the 'India Window' within the Erasmus Mundus
programme. For the academic year 2005-2006, 133 scholarships for Indian
students under the India Window were approved. In 2006-2007 this number
rose to 288 and in 2007-2008 to 403. In addition, 81 Indian students and
27 scholars received scholarships under the general EM programme in
ties with Germany too
relations between Germany and India have kept pace with the growing ties
between the EU and India. India was not only amongst the first countries
to set up diplomatic relations with the European Economic Community
(EEC) in 1962, the predecessor of the European Union. It was also the
first country to end the state of war with Germany and among the first
to grant diplomatic recognition to the Federal Republic of Germany.
India demonstrated sympathy and support for German reunification in
and Germany are important partners on the international stage – the
cooperation ranges from combating terrorism to the reform of the United
Nations and the international protection of the environment," says
the German foreign ministry on its website.
Merkel to visit India
high-level visits have given bilateral relations a considerable impetus.
There were state visits to Germany by President Ramaswami Venkataraman
in 1989 and President K. R. Narayanan in 1998. Prime Minister Rajiv
Gandhi travelled to Germany in 1988, Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao
in 1991, 1993 and 1994, and Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee in May 2003.
The most recent visit was that by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in April
2006. German President Richard von Weizsäcker went to India on a state
visit in 1991, and President Johannes Rau in March 2003.
Helmut Kohl visited the country in 1983, 1986 and 1993. Chancellor
Gerhard Schröder paid official visits to India in October 2001 and in
2004. His successor Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit India 29th
October to 1st November.
Agenda for Indo-German Partnership in the 21st Century, signed by the
two countries’ foreign ministers in May 2000, sets out potential areas
for intensifying bilateral relations. Since 23rd April last
year, this has been supplemented by a Joint Declaration by Chancellor
Merkel and Prime Minister Singh on strategic partnership between the two
providing for closer coordination on regional and global policy – such
as Afghanistan, Iran, disarmament, fighting terrorism, climate
protection and the reform of the United Nations – the partnership is
designed to markedly step up cooperation in the business and energy
sectors as well as in science, technology and defence.
Indo-German consultation group, convened by Prime Minister Rao and
Chancellor Kohl in 1991 and constituted in Bonn in 1992, makes
recommendations for the development of bilateral relations. The group
holds annual meetings alternately in Germany and India, mostly recently
in Wiesbaden in September 2006. There has been an Indo-German friendship
group in the German parliament since 1971; the Indian parliament
followed suit in the spring of 2003, setting up the Indo-German Forum of
Angela Merkel has vowed to combat right-wing violence, which last year
rose to its highest level since reunification in 1990 but critics say
campaigns to draw people away from radical ideology are still
to official sources, around 50 skinhead concerts, traditionally a
recruiting ground for far-right groups, took place in the months April
to July this year. The number of participants increased to about 6,000
from around 4,500 in the first quarter of the year.
peace marchers protesting the racist attack on the night 18th-19th
August on eight Indians at a community fair in Mügeln near the city of
Leipzigin Eastern Germany, expressed appreciation for the firm stand
taken by the German Government. They however stated that they would not
be intimidated by the misdeeds of a small group of racist hot-heads.
group of about 50 young Germans chased the Indians who sought shelter in
a pizza restaurant run by an Indian. Two of the injured Indians who were
mostly outdoor market merchants in the region, were hospitalised. The
mob of racist Germans shouted slurs such as "foreigners out".
As many as 70 police officers were called to disperse the attackers and
restore order. Four assailants and two policemen were also injured in
silent peace march was organised by members of the Berlin chapter of the
Global Organization of the People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), together
with other Berliners. The marchers carried flowers as a symbol of peace,
respect, love and harmony instead of posters, banners, drums, or
loudspeakers. GOPIO Berlin chapter president, Barjinder Sodhi presented
a memorandum to the duty officer of German Chancellor.
memorandum demanded prompt completion of investigation of the race riots
by the Government investigating agency, providing report to community
and punishing the guilty as per law of the land; taking necessary
measures to avoid repetition of similar future incidences; and
taking steps to ensure safety of immigrants from India.