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Keynote Address by Secretary (West) on India-EU Cooperation in Security and Global Governance Domains, Carnegie India, New Delhi (03 November 2016)

November 04, 2016

Distinguished participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • I appreciate the initiative taken by the Carnegie Foundation to lead this discussion with the Indian strategic community on the European Union (EU). I understand that a similar event had been arranged in Brussels in September 2016 and another one may be in the offing in Berlin. These efforts at examining different aspects of India-EU ties, which is one of India's largest international relationships have great potential for creating deeper understanding.
  • The fact is that even after accounting for the uncertainties created by Brexit and the future shape of the EU once the post-Brexit countours are developed, India and the European Union share and will continue to share several commonalities. We two – India and the EU collectively, are the largest democracies of the world. There is a shared belief in the bedrock values of democracy, dialogue and consensus, and the Rule of Law. We believe that development and economic growth are sustainable when they are within the framework of an open society and an open economy. And we have established that it is possible to achieve both 'democracy' and 'development' without sacrificing one for the other.
  • This shared vision for ourselves is also the shared vision we have for the world. India aspires for inclusive, transparent and democratic global governance. Similar values are held by the Member States of the EU. It is this convergence of perspectives and shared interests that was the basis for India and the EU to become Strategic Partners in 2004.
  • The India-EU relationship has grown considerably since then. The EU as a whole is India’s largest trade partner and export destination today with our total trade touching US$ 126 billion in 2015. With over 30 bilateral dialogue mechanisms in place, our collaboration covers a wide range of important areas, including trade, security, energy, the movement of people, culture, education and so forth.
  • The 13th India-EU Summit in March this year, has strengthened our strategic partnership and put it on a pragmatic, forward-looking path, by adopting the India-EU Agenda for Action 2020 - a concrete roadmap for collaboration in the coming five years. The discussions between our leaders showed a shared commitment to cooperation in the areas specified and beyond.
  • From this perspective, India and the EU are invested in each others' stability and success. India believes that the EU’s continued influence and prosperity are relevant to India’s own development and for the evolution of an inclusive, multi-polar world, and the EU recognises that a democratic and prosperous India is a force for peace and stability in the world and a powerful engine for the global economy.
  • We believe that as part of reorienting itself strategically post Brexit, EU will find more complementarity in India as a partner to work towards a stable multilaterally oriented global governance architecture.
  • The EU has 10 strategic partnerships and one of these is with India. It is gratifying that the India-EU relationship has reached a stage of mutual confidence and maturity where we see the big picture similarly or when not, we can exchange perspectives on the big picture.
  • The agenda that we cover in policy discussions is very broad – just as an illustrative list let me mention that we discuss specific regions and situations; we discuss emerging security issues such as outer space and items on the disarmament agenda; we discuss humanitarian issues such as refugee movement; we discuss economic and social issues ranging from global efforts to counter climate change to trade measures and sanctions. There is little that is of current importance that we do not discuss.
  • Yet to those of us who are outside the EU there seem to be some constraints. There is still a creative tension apparent between the CFSP of the EU and the foreign policies of individual member states. For this reason the EU is often not perceived as a foreign policy force. Consequently, some specific issues like CT, intelligence sharing, and defence, are discussed more meaningfully at bilateral levels. While we do have institutional dialogues with the EU on cooperation in Counter-Terrorism, Cyber-security, Non-proliferation and Disarmament, these need to acquire a more operational level character. My understanding is that within the EU as well, countries do not yet have an EU wide system of sharing security information, though some work in this direction has begun.
  • Let me mention at this point that, the last India-EU summit was held in Brussels on 30th March, 2016 eight days after the horrific terror attacks in that city. As such the challenge of greater support for and synergy in combating the threat of terrorism was of foremost significance. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I would insist that terrorism is one of the most significant threats to the security of India and of the European Union and deserves greater attention.
  • India has been at the forefront of global CT efforts, working primarily through the United Nations but also active in various other forums including the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
  • In India’s view there is a pressing need for an effective and comprehensive international regime situated in the United Nations through which the phenomenon of terrorism – whether state sponsored or through non-state actors may be dealt with firmly and effectively. Towards this end, India seeks to establish a comprehensive international legal framework to address this scourge, through early adoption of the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) by the UN General Assembly. We are also working to ensure full implementation of UNSC Resolutions 1540, 1373, 1267, 2253 in designating terrorists/groups and strengthening the sanctions regimes.
  • India would like to scale up cooperation with the EU in the field of CT. The shared concerns of India and EU on terrorism, including from Foreign Terrorist Fighters and from returning jihadis makes it imperative for us to intensify our cooperation.
  • In India, we have been victims of terrorism from across our border and on account of terrorism being used as an instrument of State policy. I note that the EU too has called for perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to be brought to justice and again as India does, the EU is in favor of decisive and united action against groups and entities ranging from ISIS, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates and Lashkar-e-Tayibba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, and the Haqqani Network.
  • While counter-terrorism arrangements may be established by and through States, the EU that brings together 28 States can articulate a common position on this. I should add that there are concrete levers that are available to use to signal that resort to terrorism as state policy is not acceptable – should there be the inclination to do so. Here I would like to express some disappointment at the relatively muted response of the EU to the Uri attack on September 18.
  • Cyber-terrorism is another big threat confronting the global community. Joint and coordinated efforts can tackle big cyber-crime syndicates, through exchange of data on terrorists/extremists.
  • Our experts would want to know more about the EU's Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN) to tap into internet and social media as a counter messaging channel to reach out to vulnerable, disaffected youths. Indian security agencies could also find common areas for action with EUROPOL to deal with organized crime, cyber-hacking threats and cyber espionage.
  • Capacity-building in security is an area in which the EU can actually play a complementary role. It would be desirable for EUROPOL and Indian agencies to cooperate concretely in sharing/accessing data regarding international criminal networks/individuals, to enable the relevant national prosecuting agencies to bring offenders to justice.
  • The area of maritime security also reflects some complementary interests. Both sides have stakes in protecting maritime trade routes, and in effective counter-piracy measures. The Indian Navy in the western Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden and the European Naval Operation Atlanta have engaged in working level anti-piracy collaboration since 2011. A constructive and mutually supportive approach in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), which was chaired by the EU in 2014-15, resulted in the successful revision of the coordinates of High Risk Area(HRA) in the Indian Ocean Region. This has helped alleviate the financial burden of excessive insurance costs, which were ultimately borne by Indian and EU consumers.
  • We also share perspectives on concrete issues across a broad spectrum and I shall mention some as illustrations. India seeks peace in our difficult neighbourhood. India’s commitment to peace progress and development in Afghanistan is well-established. In this spirit we have recently committed a further sum of US$ 1 billion for Afghanistan’s development during the EU-sponsored Brussels Summit on Afghanistan on October 5, 2016. This money will be used for Afghanistan’s requirements for capacity building in spheres such as education, health, agriculture, skill development, empowerment of women, energy, infrastructure and strengthening of democratic institutions. India is proud, privileged and honoured that our engagement in Afghanistan through our development partnership has been a harbinger of hope and predictability. I should mention in this connection that India will host the Heart of Asia Conference (Istanbul Process) in Amritsar on December 4, 2016, to which the EU High Representative has also been invited.
  • On Climate Change issues, India has played an important role and we seek to work together with EU on climate change and related issues. We initiated the International Solar Alliance [ISA] in Paris. The Framework Agreement of ISA is ready and will be opened for signature in Marrakesh on 15 November and EU partnership in this effort will be important.
  • Global governance structures are under strain; they need recalibration and in some cases should be re-imagined sooner rather than later and the EU should join India in working together for this objective.
  • The EU which itself is an experiment and an innovation in collective governance should play a more effective role.
  • There is an obvious co-relation between interests and positions in international affairs. The primacy that the EU accords to some issues may not be the primacy we accord to them and vice versa – that is a natural difference. There can however be an understanding of each other’s concerns and we seek more of that understanding. We hope to see the EU as an important grouping more conscious of India’s perspectives and aspirations. Rather than recourse to unilateral measures or restrictive internal legislation, a more collegial approach is our expectation.
  • The world of today is at odds with the existing global governance arrangements and so does not reflect current realities. We urge the EU to come forward in pursuing the reconfiguration that is needed in the interest of more effective international cooperation and more credible global governance.
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