The European Union (EU), in its maiden strategy paper for India to be released on Tuesday, is expected to call for further strengthening of military-to-military ties with Delhi and acknowledged India’s role for a multipolar Asia amid China’s belligerent moves to dominate geopolitics.
Terrorism is a major threat for the EU and India. Countering radicalisation, including online, terrorist financing and preventing violent extremism are of priority for both partners. Regular bilateral consultations on counter-terrorism should develop into a platform for joint assessments of threats, challenges and policy responses, and seek to expand technical cooperation, the strategy paper is expected to suggest, ET has learnt.
The EU and India should cooperate to pursue common objectives in international and regional organisations, including at the UN, G20, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Global Counter-terrorism Forum, notably on terrorist financing and terrorist designation listing, the strategy paper is likely to suggest.
ET has learnt that among elements in strategy paper there could be reference to further develop military-to-military relations with India, including between leaders of the Indian armed forces and the EU military structures, as well as joint exercises in the backdrop of common security interests.
Future cooperation could include exchange of experience in training, capability development, participation in missions and operations, and research into new defence systems, the EU is likely to suggest. The EU has decided to enhance security cooperation in and with Asia through tailor-made approaches.
In oblique reference to China’s belligerent approach, EU strategy paper is expected emphasise for multipolar Asia with India playing a key role in it.
In a critique of BRI, the strategy paper is expected to have references to connectivity projects. The EU and India share the view that an approach to connectivity should be environmentally, economically, socially and fiscally sustainable and provide a level playing field for businesses, while respecting international standards and enhancing its governance, the strategy paper is expected to suggest echoing India’s stand on the issue, ET has learnt.
The EU should seek opportunities, in cooperation with India and other Asian partners, to support cooperative and inclusive regional orders and integration, with a rules-based approach. This should include the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, the ASEAN, and the Indian Ocean Rim Association. Cooperation should be expanded with India on the promotion of common principles, including in the ASEM, such as on connectivity.
The paper will also have references on Freedom of Navigation.
Securing sea lines of communications is vital for both the EU and India, as the huge majority of their trade relies on maritime transport. Both are strong promoters of the respect for international law, particularly the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“Enhanced engagement is needed on maritime security to discuss the non-traditional security challenges, such as piracy and armed robbery; transnational organised crime; illegal trafficking; cooperation at sea, including at the operational level as well as in law enforcement and conflict prevention; promotion of confidence building measures; and sharing of experiences in maritime situational awareness, maritime surveillance and information sharing, possibly in cooperation with other partners and international organisations (e.g. UN).Cooperation on the Indian Ocean should be developed, notably on security and governance, building on counter-piracy activities, and promoting respect for the international law of the sea,” persons familiar with EU strategy paper explained.
The paper is also expected to have references on India-EU trade ties a key pillar in the partnership. EU is India’s biggest trading partner as a bloc.
“The EU remains firmly committed to working towards a comprehensive and balanced agreement on trade and investment that is sufficiently ambitious to respond to each side’s key interests and contributes to sustainable growth and development in both the EU and India. In particular, the EU will continue to engage with India to ensure that such an agreement will be economically meaningful, delivering real new market openings in all sectors to both sides, and contain a solid rules-based component,” persons familiar with EU’s India strategy said, referring to long pending Indo-EU FTA.
“The EU’s main objective is to work towards a sound, transparent, open, non-discriminatory and predictable regulatory and business environment for European companies trading with or investing in India, including the protection of their investments and the protection and enforcement of intellectual property,” one the persons quoted above said.
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