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EU looks beyond trade-only ties with India
Ajay Banerjee writes from Brussels

The European Union (EU) has offered India to join hands with it on defence and security related issues in a bid to widen the spectrum of its allies. The long-term goal, as per the EU, is to jointly tackle the situation in Afghanistan and the emerging problematic countries in Africa besides combining efforts on counter terrorism, cyber security, crisis management and counter piracy efforts in the Indian Ocean.

The EU collectively is looking to have an extradition treaty with India. Just a couple of years ago, Denmark had refused to extradite Purulia arms drop case accused Kim Davy while a few years earlier Indian agencies faced hurdles in getting underworld don Abu Salem extradited from Portugal. For India, the sensitive issues with EU have been information sharing for counter-terrorism operations and extradition of fugitives.

David O’ Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer of European External Action Service (EEAS), told Indian reporters, “We will meet India to discuss possible information sharing and extradition. The EU is political and not a trade project,” he asserted. Those associated with various wings of the EEAS observed that there was a need was to “have a common EU-India agenda”. The EEAS is a 16-month-old body tasked with combining the efforts of the European countries with other countries.

The EU, a conglomerate of 27 countries, is looking to move beyond the trade-only relations with India (two way trade was at 67.9 billion Euros - Rs 4.55 lakh crore approx -- in 2010). The EU, having its headquarters in this city, has invited a high-level delegation from India to discuss the twin issues of security and defence.

Maciej Popowski, EEAS secretary general, says “We have rich agenda with India and we are going beyond the traditional engagement”. EU officials listed the collective defence budget of the 27 countries at 194 billion Euros. Out of that, 41.99 billion Euros was for ‘defence investment’, an indication as to where India could have future alliances.

Looking at the situation in Afghanistan after the proposed pullout of the US-led NATO troops by the end of 2014, Walter Stevens, Director of the EEAS Crisis Management and Policy Division, says “India and EU can sit together and see how to approach the situation. We would want India to join hands with us and train police in Afghanistan”.

The EU believes the Afghan situation after 2014 could impact Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the two nations with which India has deep ties. The EU has also proposed that the EU Police can have direct tie-ups with India’s CBI and the NIA.

On Africa, the EU has a vision of working together with India, which has military training teams in over a dozen countries. “Africa is an area where we can work together,” said Pedro Serrano, Director, South East Asia, EEAS. “No notes have been exchanged with India on Africa but we will do it,” Serrano said.

Probably, the EU efforts to tango with India are best explained by its think-tank, the Paris-based European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS ). Its Director Alvaro De Vasconceles, in response to a question if the EU was looking at new allies beyond the US, said, “There is a changing world order and we, the EU, are looking to expand the scope of our allies but this possible tie-up is not an anti-US body”. The EU expects India to be in the top three economies of the world by 2030, he said. This Correspondent was on an invite of the European Union.

What 27-nation conglomerate wants

n India to join hands with it on defence and security related issues

n Jointly tackle the situation in Afghanistan and emerging problematic countries in Africa

n Combined efforts on counter-terrorism, cyber security and counter-piracy efforts in the Indian Ocean

n A collective extradition treaty with India





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