Deterioration of EU-India relations would have 'dire' consequences

UK Socialist MEP Neena Gill has said parliament's EU-India delegation had 'to fend off accusations' a summit was cancelled because of the 'future personal ambitions' of the EU foreign affairs chief.

By James O'Brien

24 Mar 2015

An EU-India summit scheduled for April has been cancelled because the Indian government has said it could not get confirmation of the dates on which it was to be held.

The news of the cancellation came as parliament's delegation for relations with India arrived in Delhi. The European commission has said the summit was cancelled due to "logistical reasons".

"It is perplexing to understand why there was no response to the date suggested by Delhi for an EU-India summit, which was originally called for by the commission" - Neena Gill, S&D

Neena Gill, a vice-chair of the delegation said, "It is perplexing to understand why there was no response to the date suggested by Delhi for an EU-India summit, which was originally called for by the commission."

The British MEP added, "the delegation had to fend off accusations that the cancellation was the result of the Italian marine case and suggestions to the effect that future personal ambitions of the EU foreign affairs chief [Federica Mogherini] were involved".

The parliament passed a resolution in January seeking the return of two Italian marines accused of killing Indian fishermen. The marines claim they mistook the fishermen for pirates and a diplomatic row between Italy and India has ensued. India said the resolution was ill-advised as the matter was sub judice.

Gill said that the delegation was also confronted with speculation the cancellation was part of a "do less approach" adopted by the Juncker commission.

The delegation vice-chair warned that "when the Santer commission walked this road, the consequences were dire".

The S&D deputy also said that any deterioration in relations "is incredibly unfortunate, given that India is leapfrogging towards major importance on the global scene".

She added that India is "becoming the world's fastest growing major economy, and plays a pivotal role in crucial global issues - such as stability in the Asia Pacific and climate change".

Gill said, "no summit means missing out on a golden opportunity" to engage on geopolitical and business issues.

The British Socialist deputy concluded, "Now all that is left is for president Jean-Claude Juncker and foreign affairs chief Mogherini is to realise that no summit in 2015 is simply not an option."

The Indian prime minister Narendra Modi had been expected to attend the summit which was scheduled for April as part of his European tour. He is still expected to visit France and Germany next month.

India became an EU 'strategic partner' in 2004 and a joint action plan was signed the following year.

The EU began negotiations with India on a bilateral trade agreement in June 2007. However, following several rounds of talks, the negotiations stalled in mid-2013.

India is the world's 10th largest economy by nominal GDP but is the third largest according to purchasing power parity and is expected to grow by seven per cent this year.


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