The Narendra Modi government too has shed India’s
diffidence of the past in engaging with the West.
New Delhi has found the bureaucratic maze of Brussels
rather difficult to navigate and in the process ignored the EU as a collective.
India also objected to the high moralistic tone emanating
The EU started becoming more pragmatic in their engagement
Brussels continued to be big-brotherly in its attitude on
political issues and ignorant of the geostrategic imperatives of Indian foreign
and security policies.
The EU emerged as India’s largest trading partner and
biggest foreign investor, the relationship remained devoid of any strategic
The Modi government did initially make a push for reviving
the talks on EU-India bilateral trade and investment agreement, nothing much of
substance has happened on the bilateral front.
The wider EU political landscape evolves after Brexit, and
India seeks to manage the turbulent geopolitics in Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific,
both recognise the importance of engaging each other.
There is a new push in Brussels to emerge as a
geopolitical actor of some significance and India is a natural partner in many
There is widespread disappointment with the trajectory of
China’s evolution and the Trump administration’s disdain for its Western allies
is highly disruptive.
At a time when India’s horizons are widening beyond South
Asia and the Indian Ocean region, Brussels is also being forced to look beyond
The EU will be part of the International Solar Alliance,
and has invited India to escort World Food Programme vessels to transport food
The two have been coordinating closely on regional issues.
The new India strategy document unveiled by the EU,
therefore, comes at an appropriate time when both have to seriously
recalibrate their partnership.
Merely reiterating that India and the EU are “natural
partners” is not enough, and the areas outlined in the document, from security
sector cooperation to countering terrorism and regional security.
Its need to be focussed on.
India needs resources and expertise from the EU for its
various priority areas, such as cybersecurity, urbanisation, environmental
regeneration, and skill development.
The EU shifts its focus to India, New Delhi should
heartily reciprocate this outreach.
In the past, India had complained that Brussels does not
take India seriously and that despite the two not having any ideological
affinity, the EU-China relations carried greater traction. Now all that might