The Strategic Engagement of Europe and India in a Disrupted World Order: Strengthening Ties and Strengthening Partnerships

By Rashi Randev

While the West continues to maintain diplomatic and economic pressure on Russia, India continues to maintain its firm stance on the Ukrainian issue while retaining its strategic autonomy. He has been consistent in his defense of diplomacy and dialogue and has not violated the parameters established by international law and the Charter of the United Nations. The disrupted world order and current geopolitical realities have prompted awareness of the need for strategic partnerships and Prime Minister Modi’s recent visit to three major European countries – Germany, Denmark and France indicates clearly India’s intention to strengthen partnerships and strengthen ties with like-minded countries. like-minded allies in Europe and is likely to set the stage for the India-EU summit and reinvigorate the free trade agreement negotiations, which have been going on for a decade and a half now.

With the continuation of high-level diplomatic visits over the past month, the intensity of engagement has increased in the wake of the war in Ukraine. The Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, Poland, Portugal, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway, among others, and the President of the European Commission visiting India demonstrated the growing importance of India on the international scene.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Germany provided an opportunity to strengthen the strategic partnership through investment prospects, to discuss global and regional developments with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and to strengthen cooperation between the two countries which have a common interest in upholding democratic values ​​and safeguarding a rules-based international community. Ordered. It has been 70 years since diplomatic relations were established between India and Germany, who have also been strategic partners since the year 2000, but this functional collaboration can only be interpreted as a green strategic partnership; based on sustainability, science and technology, trade and skills development. Germany is one of India’s most important partners in Europe, with deep bilateral relations, and also because of its key role in the European Union.

During the visit, the leaders of the two countries presided over the 6th Indo-German Intergovernmental Consultations (IGC), which is a bilateral dialogue aimed at advancing the level of cooperation in the fields of technology, security, education and climate change. Under Modi’s leadership, India has set itself the goal of becoming a global renewable energy hub, which includes increasing its non-fossil power capacity to 500 GW by 2030 and achieving 50% of its energy needs thanks to renewable energies. The target also includes reducing the carbon intensity of its economy by 45% and lowering projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes until 2030. In addition, India wants to move to net zero by by 2070, which according to various reports will require nearly $12.4 trillion. To achieve all these projected goals, India needs huge foreign investments to set up renewable industries in India. One of the benefits of the IGC was the signing of the Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) establishing the Partnership for Green and Sustainable Development, which will significantly increase the existing partnership under which Germany will fund green projects in India under private, public and PPP models by making an advanced commitment of €10 billion in new and additional development assistance up to 2030.

After Berlin, Prime Minister Modi traveled to Copenhagen, where the second Indo-Nordic summit was held with Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Sweden to explore new areas of cooperation; global security, economic growth and climate change. This summit was significant because after the United States, India is the only country that has established such a level of engagement with the five Nordic nations.

The Nordic countries are unquestionably the frontrunners in healthcare, clean energy, global technology, education, innovation and digital transformation. India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, which in recent years has accounted for GDP growth of 7-7.5% per year, and therefore offers a large market for the Nordic countries to invest in wind energy, water management, maritime transport and smart cities. This visit was an attempt to expand multifaceted cooperation with the aim of consolidating bilateral relations through the green strategic partnership between a potential strategic partner such as India and the Nordic nations, amid the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Modi’s visit to France just days after Macron’s victory in the French elections signifies India’s growing importance and marks the next phase of the India-France strategic partnership. The conversation with France will also be important since it holds the Presidency of the European Union this year. The two countries have been strategic partners since 1998 and have a multifaceted partnership in maritime security, space and defense, counterterrorism, clean energy and the environment. India and France share a strong economic partnership “with bilateral trade of USD 7.86 billion (2020-2021) and cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) of USD 9.83 billion since April 2020”. At present, there are over a thousand French business enterprises in India in various sectors and over 150 Indian companies in France which have employed over 7,000 French citizens.

Challenges in the Indo-Pacific are believed to be one of the main areas of discussion, amid China’s belligerence in the region. In September 2021, the EU presented its first Indo-Pacific cooperation strategy, outlining its planned involvement in the region and stating that “the future of the EU and the Indo-Pacific is inextricably linked. given the interdependence of economies and the common global challenges. The EU is the largest investor and trading partner for the economies of the Indo-Pacific region, and Europe has particular interests in the region; its strategy must commit more to “strengthening its strategic reach and supply chains”, as any difficult situation or setback in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea can have a “direct impact on security and prosperity. European”.

Tomorrow, France will be a strong pillar of the European security structure, through its naval and overseas presence, France is a major Indo-Pacific power; 93% of its exclusive economic zones are in the Indian and Pacific oceans, and the region is home to 1.5 million French citizens, in addition to the 8,000 troops stationed in the region.

As Europe seeks to engage more deeply in the Indo-Pacific, strengthening the partnership with India will be crucial. With the aftermath of the Russian-Ukrainian war and the aggressive rise of China, a powerful transatlantic alliance and a bastion in the Indo-Pacific security architecture is needed. Going forward, with increasing economic competition, impacts of climate change, possible disease outbreaks and threats of cyber warfare, Europe cannot meet these challenges alone, and India and Europe are therefore essential. for each other.

Europe’s new strategic orientation towards India and the intention to strengthen its maritime footprint in the Indo-Pacific region and India’s priority to maintain its strategic autonomy and converge towards Europe will lead to a relationship solid.

(The author is a doctoral candidate at the Center for Canadian, American and Latin American Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. The opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial express online. Reproduction of this content without permission is prohibited.)

Mary I. Bruner