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Seconded European Standardization Expert in India

EU-India Relation

Rss-logo The relationship of India with Europe is continuously strengthening. The EU is one of India’s largest trading partners besides Europe being one of the largest investors in India. Both India and the European Union represent “unions of diversity” and share common values of democracy, rule of law and human rights with common interest in each other’s security, prosperity, and sustainable

The EU is India’s third largest trading partner, accounting for €88 billion worth of trade in goods in 2021 or 10.8% of total Indian trade. The EU is the second-largest destination for Indian exports (14.9% of the total). India is the EU’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for 2.1% of EU total trade in goods in 2021. Trade in goods between the EU and India increased by about 30% in the last decade. Trade in services between the EU and India reached €30.4 billion in 2020.

India and the EFTA States are also engaging both at multilateral as well as bilateral levels. Given that the bilateral arrangements serve as building blocks to the multilateral trading system, India and the EFTA States are moving forward in this direction. Bilateral trade between India and EFTA during 2023 was ~€5.5 billion (Total Imports: ~€3.2 billion and Total exports: €2.3 billion). Following 21 rounds of negotiations, India and the EFTA Member States have successfully concluded a comprehensive Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) on March 10, 2024. The EFTA-India TEPA covers the following areas; Preamble, General Provisions, Trade in Goods (incl. Rules of Origin and Trade Facilitation), Trade Remedies, SPS, TBT, Trade in Services, Investment Promotion and Cooperation, Intellectual Property, Government Procurement, Competition, Trade and Sustainable Development, Dispute Settlement, Institutional Provisions, Final Provisions.

Acknowledging these opportunities, the EU and India have continuously been working on creating and solidifying strategic partnership between the two regions. The focus on trade, future technologies, standards, and sustainable development has clearly been brought out by the “EU-India Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2025”, endorsed by India and the EU, in July 2020. The key focuses of cooperation are around Security, Climate Change, Clean Energy, ICT, Transport, Green Deal, Resource Efficiency, Circular Economy, Clean Tech, Renewables, Artificial Intelligence, Research & Innovation, RAIL etc. and importantly to resume the EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement negotiations. In this roadmap, both sides have also agreed to work together to strengthen Trade and investment, Business & Economy by enhancing market access, addressing existing trade barriers and preventing the emergence of new ones, alignment to international standards and best practices, easing up the assessment of conformity and improving investment conditions. Cooperation around Standardisation and its harmonisation to International Standards and promotion of existing international standards is clearly mentioned around the topics of Security, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, Environment (Circular Economy), Information and communications technology (ICT), Transport (Railways) etc.

The cooperation agreements endorsed through the “Roadmap to 2025” were reiterated at the EU-India Leaders’ Meeting in Porto on 8 May 2021, wherein emphasis was on resuming trade negotiations, resolution of market access related issues, cooperation on global digital standards and network security, 5G technology and beyond 5G, Joint Task Force on Artificial Intelligence, Quantum and High-Performance Computing, protection of personal data and privacy, Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency Partnership, Partnership on Smart and Sustainable Urbanization etc.

During the EU-India Leaders’ Meeting, both EU and India have also concluded a comprehensive Connectivity Partnership, confirming their commitment to collaborate on supporting resilient and sustainable connectivity both in India and in third countries. This connectivity partnership will support sustainable digital, transport and energy networks, and the flow of people, goods, services, data, and capital centred on equity and inclusivity for the benefit of both the EU and India and assisting in global development efforts, based on Sustainable Development Goals principles. Also, this connectivity partnership endorses facilitating large-scale private investments in sustainable connectivity and commitment to implementing relevant international standards, to ensure a level playing field for companies and to ensure reciprocal access to markets.

This connectivity partnership also complements the EUs Global Gateway initiative, which stands for sustainable and trusted connections that work for people and the planet and is also an effort of EU stepping up its offer to its partners with major investments in infrastructure development around the world. India can play a crucial role in the effective implementation of the EU’s ambitious connectivity strategy. Europe and India must track down ways of organizing and synergizing different projects and offer prescribed procedures and data by focusing on regions less infiltrated by the BRI, particularly in Eastern Europe, India, and Japan.

The European Union and India have also launched a Trade and Technology Council (TTC). The decision to set up this Trade and Technology Council is first for India with any of its partners and second for the European Union following the first one it had set up with the US. Establishing the EU-India Trade and Technology Council is a key step towards a strengthened strategic partnership for the benefit of all peoples in the EU and India. Under this TTC, three working groups have been established covering digital governance and connectivity, green tech, and trade. In May 2023, The European Union and India have held their first ministerial meeting of the Trade and Technology Council (TTC) in Brussels.

The meeting, as per an official statement by the EU, centred discussions around strategic technologies, digital governance, connectivity; clean and green energy technologies as well as trade, investment and building of resilient value chains.

Cooperation around Standardisation and its harmonisation to International Standards and promoting existing international standards fares high on the agenda for both India and EU. The EU in its recently launched Strategy on Standardisation – Setting global standards in support of a resilient, green and digital EU single market have reinforced this by incorporating various objectives as part of this strategy such as “fostering the adoption of international standards by trading partners and through cooperation between the respective standardising bodies”, “more strategic approach in leveraging trade agreements and partnerships to support shared interests in international standards-setting with key partners”, etc. The European Commission will support these objectives by developing initiatives, including building on existing partnerships and cooperation projects between the European Standardisation Organisations and standardisation bodies in third countries.