The Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade hosted a public lecture by Prof. Dr. Purusottam Bhattacharya, retired professor of international relations, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, who offered critical insights on the current state of the EU – India relationship.
The Professor classified the EU’s interaction with India as one premised on similar political and cultural values, and mutually beneficial economic exchanges. He explained that while the relationship began as what he termed a “parallel process” under which the EU took notice of India’s rise, it was in 2004 that the two parties developed a “strategic partnership.” Herein, the relationship transcended its purely economic status and reached a political and security-oriented level of cooperation.
The collaborative activities between the EU and India on clean energy, advanced technologies, and the exchange of foreign direct investment (FDI) were praised throughout the lecture. It was brought to the attention of the audience that the EU invested about $ 200 billion USD in India, while India invested around $ 50 billion USD in European countries. With this established, the speaker concluded that India will continue to occupy an important place in the European community’s thinking and approach to international relations.
Dr. Bhattacharya noted that India has never been a large trading partner for the European Union. In fact, only two percent of the EU’s trade share is allocated to India, since the EU is much more interested in its trade relationships with China, Japan, and the South East Asian countries. Despite this, Dr. Bhattacharya suggested that India’s domestic market offers many opportunities because of the size of its population and an increasing purchasing power.
The Professor argued that the aforementioned relationship can be further strengthened, because the EU, as a security actor is too focused on local areas of conflict and should expand, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Thus, the EU has an opportunity to both, strengthen its ties with India and affirm its importance as a global security actor, by deepening the nature of this strategic partnership.