Delegation of the European Union to India and Bhutan

India and the EU

17/10/2016 - 11:23
EU relations with Country

The EU works closely with India to promote peace, create jobs, boost economic growth and enhance sustainable development across the country.

As long-standing partners, India and the European Union (EU) are committed to dynamic dialogue in all areas of mutual interest as major actors in their own regions and as global players on the world stage. Both are working towards enhancing the EU-India Strategic Partnership, established in 2004 and based on the shared values and principles of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the promotion of peace and stability.

The 13th EU-India Summit, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, was held in Brussels on 30 March 2016. The main topics of the Summit were foreign policy, security and human rights cooperation, economic cooperation and global issues such as climate change and migration and mobility. Leaders adopted a Joint Declaration and endorsed the 'EU-India Agenda for Action 2020' which builds on the achievements of the 2005 Joint Action Plan. The Summit also produced a Joint Declaration on the fight against terrorism and agreements on a number of sectoral partnerships.

The basis of the political cooperation between the EU and India was laid in the Joint Political Statement of 1993 and the 1994 Cooperation Agreement, which took relations beyond trade and economic cooperation. Summits (the first one took place in 2000) and ministerial meetings are the most visible features of this cooperation. There are also regular dialogues on foreign policy and security issues of common interest such as counter-terrorism, cyber-security, counter-piracy, non-proliferation and disarmament and human rights, as well as close contacts in multilateral forums and interactions in the margins of regional or international events. The EU and India moreover consult regularly on migration and mobility, trade, economic cooperation, science and technology, energy, environment and ICT.

Political relations are also strengthened by the regular exchange visits between EU and Indian parliamentarians. In June 2015, Speaker of the Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan visited the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels while the EP Delegation for Relations with India came to Delhi and Jaipur in March that year, not to mention many other visits by MEPs. Expert meetings and think tank contacts complement these multiple interactions.

The European Union is represented in India by Ambassador Ugo Astuto, Head of the Delegation of the European Union in New Delhi. The Delegation, a full-fledged diplomatic mission, works in close coordination with the diplomatic missions of the 27 EU Member States in areas within the EU’s remit. The EU Delegation is at the centre of a vibrant and multi-faceted bilateral relationship that links the EU and India, and it is constantly working to deepen and broaden political ties. In addition, the Delegation promotes people-to-people contacts and cultural cooperation by sponsoring academic, cultural and media exchanges between India and the EU.

The European Union’s development cooperation with India spans several decades with a successful track record including on education, health, water and sanitation.

Whereas India graduated from low to medium income country (OECD 2014) the EU-India cooperation has also evolved from a traditional financial assistance type towards a partnership with a focus on common priorities.

Our cooperation now includes blending initiatives which combine grants from the EU with loans from international financial institutions and leverage additional funding for specific nationally identified development needs. In addition, the EU supports institutional capacity building in key strategic areas such as renewable energies, trade and environment. At the 2017 EU-India Summit, leaders reiterated their intention to strengthen cooperation on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and agreed to explore the continuation of the EU-India Development Dialogue. In this context, new ways of engaging in areas of mutual interest between the EU and India are being developed.

Currently, the portfolio of projects/programmes with some EUR 120 million benefiting India, out of which ca € 70 million are implemented through Civil Society Organisations. Projects support the implementation of the EU-India Agenda for Action-2020 in areas such as social and human development, ICT, energy, water, climate change, urban development and resource efficiency.

Civil society dialogue

Working with civil society, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), cooperatives, the academia, business associations, trade unions, women and youth associations, among other entities, is an integral part of EU-India cooperation. India’s vibrant civil society is a key partner in development, often playing a critical role in reaching out to the most remote and vulnerable population groups, address specific social, economic and environmental challenges, test new models of intervention and make globalisation and technological advances work for all. 

The EU seeks to strengthen civil society by supporting a wide range of stakeholders and activities aiming at strengthening capacity development processes, promoting social dialogue, facilitating citizens’ active engagement and networking as well as promoting innovation and best practices. About 60 projects involving civil society actors are ongoing for a combined amount of over € 70 million in EU funding. Almost all projects work in direct partnership with various government programmes, schemes and institutions, at various levels, from centre to state, district, block, taluk and village levels. 

More information on current civil society projects can be viewed here:

or under case studies.

ECHO in India

The Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) has been present in India since 1995 and has responded to all major emergencies since, including the Orissa cyclone in 1999, the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, the Tsunami in 2004, the Jammu & Kashmir earthquake in 2005, the Bihar floods in 2008 and Cyclone Phailin in 2013.

Since it first began operations, the European Commission has thus far contributed close to EUR 130 million to address the urgent humanitarian needs of people in India, including an allocation of more than EUR 4.3 million between 2015 and 2016.

In 2016, ECHO funding, released as part of the EU Children of Peace project, is being used to ensure that displaced children in conflict-torn Assam have access to education, which will eventually help reduce the risk of them engaging in hazardous activities such as joining insurgency groups or being exposed to labour exploitation. The project also provides much-needed health care assistance and increased protection for affected children.

In the north-eastern state of Jammu and Kashmir where the populations have borne the heavy brunt of a decades-long conflict, ECHO has provided healthcare, protection, and livelihood support to people directly or indirectly affected by the violence since 2002. This year, ECHO-funded aid focuses on delivering appropriate medical treatment and support for conflict-affected boys and girls who have been caught up in violent outbreaks and sustained injuries.

Preparing communities to minimise natural disaster risks is also an important part of ECHO's work in India. Since 2001, ECHO's Disaster Preparedness programme, known as DIPECHO, has supported vulnerable communities in reducing the impacts of floods, cyclones, earthquakes and other natural disasters through initiatives such as the creation of early warning systems and adaptation of physical infrastructure. Its total contribution to this end exceeds EUR 8 million, including the 2013-2014 allocation.

To know more about our latest activities in India, please have a look at our factsheet.

India is one of the growing economies that will reshape the global economy in the twenty-first century. Europe is the world's largest trading power. Both sides are involved in key negotiations to boost trade and investment at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and bilaterally through an ambitious Free Trade Agreement.

Our bilateral trade has more than doubled in the last decade, making the European Union Indias number one trade and investment partner. Two-way trade in goods between the EU and India reached EUR 77.3 billion in 2015, or EUR 211 million per day. If we add services, total trade now exceeds EUR 100 billion/year, or EUR 275 million per day!

Moreover, in addition to being the main destination for Indian outward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the EU is also India's most important source of inward FDI - after Mauritius – with almost EUR 5 billion of EU outward investment to India in 2014. Investment from India destined for the EU was over EUR 1 billion. At the end of 2014, the total stock of Indian FDI in the EU was EUR 6.7 billion and the total stock of EU FDI in India was EUR 38.5 billion.

The EU and India hope to increase their trade in both goods and services - as well as investment - through the negotiations for a free trade agreement (better known as Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement – BTIA) that they launched in 2007.

Europe is the world's largest trading bloc

The EU is the world’s biggest trader, accounting for 16.5% of the world's imports and exports. Free trade among its members was one of the EU's founding principles, and it is committed to liberalising world trade as well.

The EU is the world's largest exporter of manufactured goods and services, and is the biggest import market for more than one hundred countries. It is also the world's largest single market area, with more than 500 million consumers, as well as the world's largest foreign direct investor and recipient of foreign direct investment

In this ‘borderless’ Europe, people and products can move freely from one place to another. The 27 Member States of the European Union share a single market, a single external border and a single trade policy. European Union Member States have agreed to pool their sovereignty and follow a common policy on international trade. It means there is one negotiation, one negotiator – the European Commission – and at the end of the process just one agreement instead of 27 different sets of trade rules with each of Europe's trading partners. The Commission also represents the EU Member States in the WTO.

Member State embassies in partner countries are in charge of export promotion and offer a wide range of services to their national operators, including helping them to understand the Indian market better, find local contacts, carry out in-depth research on the market for their goods and attend trade fairs.


In October 2015, the European Commission presented 'Trade for All', a renewed trade and investment strategy which takes stock of the crucial developments in world's economy during the last few years. The strategy foresees a responsible approach responding to new economic realities in line with the EU's foreign policy.

The EU is the world's biggest trading bloc, and more than 30 million EU jobs depend on exports; on the other hand, 90% of future global growth will happen outside Europe's borders. The new strategy will make trade agreements more effective and create more opportunities, thus supporting jobs in Europe. 

The new strategy makes EU trade policy more responsible by basing it on three key principles:

Effectiveness: Making sure trade actually delivers on its promise of new economic opportunities. That means addressing the issues that affect today's economy, including services and digital trade; it also means providing the means and information necessary for ensuring that European small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), consumers and workers can take full advantage of – and adapt to – more open markets.

Transparency: Opening up negotiations to more public scrutiny by publishing key negotiating texts from all negotiations, as has been done in the TTIP negotiations.

Values: Safeguarding the European social and regulatory model at home. Using trade agreements and preference programmes as levers to for the worldwide promotion of European values such as sustainable development, human rights, fair and ethical trade and the fight against corruption.

These three principles ensure that trade policy benefits as many people as possible.

The text of 'Trade for All' can be downloaded here.

India is rapidly integrating with the global economy

At 1.3 billion, India is the second most populous state and largest democracy in the world. With an annual GDP growth rate in excess of 7.5 % for over a decade it is now in the world’s top ten largest economies (4th by PPP).

As such, India is an important trade and investment partner for the EU, combining a sizable and growing market with one of the fastest growing economies in the world - arguably the fastest among the big economies.

Although it is far from the closed market that it was twenty years ago, India still maintains substantial tariff and non-tariff barriers that hinder trade with the EU.

For more information on trade, please refer to the documents and links at the bottom of this page.

EU-India cooperation on research and innovation (R&I) is based on the Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement concluded in 2001 and since then several times renewed - the last time in 2016, until 2020. The S&T Agreement serves as a basis to identify areas of common interest for collaborative projects, mobility of scientists, joint workshops, sharing of advanced research facilities and exchange of information on policy matters underpinning the effective cooperation on research and innovation.

The fact that R&I plays an important role in the EU-India overall relations, is evident from the Joint Statement adopted at the EU-India Summit in New Delhi on 6 October 2017 with more than 5 concrete commitments out of 53 related to cooperation on R&I. Following the EU-India Summit, it was also agreed to strengthen the cooperation on innovation by better understanding each other's ecosystem and finding out the best ways and means to connecting European and Indian Start-ups, Incubators and Accelerators.

EU and India value each other's scientific excellence and are thus very eager to engage in joint research projects to find solutions to address societal challenges, such as climate change, public health or food security. Engaging together in research and innovation is also important to underpin and advance the policy dialogues in which the EU and India are engaged, notably on water, clean energy and urban sustainable development.

At EU level, cooperation on research and innovation is funded under the framework programme 'Horizon 2020' which is Open to the world and thus to participants from India.

See funding opportunities and modalities


The environment is an important topic in the EU-India Partnership. The Joint Action Plan from 2005 forms the backbone for enhancing cooperation on the environment and climate change. The EU-India Environment Forum and the EU-India Partnership on Clean Energy and Climate Change are two joint commitments aimed at protecting the environment and curbing climate change.

During the EU-India Summit in Brussels on March 30, 2016, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reinforced cooperation in the fields of clean energy, sustainable development and climate-related initiatives with a series of dynamics measures. Ultimately, EU-India cooperation will contribute to create a more sustainable and equitable India in the medium and long term.

• Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy

For the last two decades, India is witnessing some major transformation with a rapid economic growth, an expanding industrial and service related production, a rapid urbanization and a growing population. These have been correlated to an increased scale and intensity of resource use and extraction. It is estimated that by 2050, Indian's total material demand will be nearly five-fold as compared to 2010 especially for metals, non-metal minerals and energy carriers. However, natural resources depletion and a constantly growing demand are causing significant social, economic, waste and environmental strain in India. The EU has recently launched the EU-India Resource Efficiency Initiative

Clean Air

With 10 million people moving to towns and cities each year, India is in the middle of a massive urbanization wave. Thus, severe pollution, including air pollution is generated due to the increased traffic, intense construction and demolition, heating and cooking through burning of biomass and various forms of waste without control of emissions. The bad ambient air in Indian cities is directly affecting human health and chronic respiratory symptoms have been widely reported by doctors over the years. The EU has recently launched an EU-India Air Quality Initiative  with the overall objective of helping India in its air management. The initiative will be implemented firstly in 3 major Indian cities (Goa, Raipur, Bangalore) suffering from 3 different pollution causes, before being spread throughout the country.

Sustainability, Clean Energy and Climate Action Brochure

India possesses an abundant rainfall concentrated in a few weeks during the year (Monsoon) which leads to large run-offs. The growing reliance on ground water (65% for irrigation and 85% for drinking water) is leading to falling water tables and increased competition between users. Moreover, despite the fact that in the past five years the standard of drinking water has improved, water in India is still highly impacted by waste and pollution. Currently, less than 40% of wastewater in towns is connected to a municipal sewage system. This leads to an increase of illnesses, a decline of environmental quality and present a risk to the biodiversity of India's water.

EU has an important experience in river basin planning and management under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) which was remarkably successful in improving the European Union's water quality in the last 15 years. This knowledge and experience is being shared with India under India-EU Water Partnership (IEWP) agreed at the 2016 Summit and followed up with a memorandum of Understanding which was signed in October 2016 in New Delhi by EU Commissioner for Environment, Karmenu Vella and India's Minister for Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Uma Bharti.

With 1.3 billion people, India represents the fourth-largest economy and the sixth-largest energy consumers in the world. The demand for power has increased by 6.5% for the 2017 fiscal year and it is estimated that India’s energy supply will need to double by 2020, and increase by three to four times by 2031-32 to meet the future need. Up to the challenge, the Indian government has committed to reduce its emission intensity of the GDP by 20-25% by 2020, compared to the 2005 level and also to switch towards green energy by targeting a 100 GW of installed solar energy capacity in the country by 2022.

During the EU-India Summit in 2016 an India-EU Clean Energy and Climate Partnership was announced with the aim of reinforcing cooperation on implementation of the Paris Agreement by strengthening joint activities for deployment of climate friendly energy sources. Under the Clean Energy and Climate Partnership, the EU supports a wide range of initiatives for low carbon energy production, thereby contributing to the mitigation of the global climate change

It is estimated that by the year 2050, the number of people living in Indian cities will touch 843 million. Rural to urban migration is intense, affecting 10 million people per year in India. Challenges faced by cities such as overcrowding, pollution, social and technical constraints are substantial. The Indian government has taken up the challenge by launching the AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) programme and more recently the 100 Smart Cities Mission, with the aim of improving services and developing public transport, sewerage, water supply and public green spaces. The European Union has responded to this challenge with the EU-Mumbai Partnership, launched in 2013 with the aim to look into innovative solutions for issues faced by a megacity in all major sectors.

A major flagship project of the EU in India is the International Urban Cooperation: Sustainable and Innovative Cities and Regions, launched in April 2017. The programme will run for three years. It comprises two components: a) City-to-city pairings of 12 Indian and EU cities for sustainable urban development and b) Support to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy by setting up the Covenant of Mayors in India and supporting cities to join.

At the India-EU Summit in October 2017, the two sides agreed on a Joint Declaration on Partnership for Smart and Sustainable Urban Development which will contribute to Indian flagship programmes such as Swachh Bharat, the 100 Smart Cities Mission and AMRUT. A Work Plan to address the challenges of governance and regulation, infrastructure funding, sustainable transport, resource efficiency and waste management, and air quality will be finalised in the first half of 2018. It will  comprise converging initiatives in joint research, policy dialogue, exchange of best practices, the setting up of platforms for business solutions and looks at financing models for sustainable urban development. The partnership brings together all relevant stakeholders: European and Indian institutions, EU Member States and Indian states, businesses and civil society. The reason for designing the Partnership like this is our firm belief that both public and private stakeholders need to pull their weight to achieve the goals we have set ourselves.


India has set numerous and ambitious goals for climate action and sustainable development which are calling for major investments. For example, an estimated EUR 95 billion is required for solar energy alone. The European Union is contributing to the investment efforts by providing development agencies with grants to make green projects in India financially sustainable. Through blending of loans from the AFD-India (Agence Francaise de Development) and a grant from the Asia Investment Facility, the EU supports the development of green housing for urban poor and the implementation of an urban mobility plan in India.

The European Investment Bank, as the bank of European Union, is committed to investing in clean energy, sustainable development and climate-related projects worldwide. So far, the EIB has supported long-term investment across India for more than 20 years and has committed more than EUR 1.5 billion for infrastructure, energy and climate change projects. Recently, the EIB opened its South Asia Regional Representation office in New Delhi.

By innovating and sharing risks, the EIB draws provate and public-sector funds for climate-action projects. A good example of this is the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF) which operates as a “layered-risk” fund for investment in developing countries. The EIB has signed loans with the Government of India for the metro project at Lucknow city (EUR 450 Million (INR 3150 Cr)) and with the State Bank of India to support investments in solar power by major Indian corporates (SBI Solar Investment Framework Loan - EUR 200 million loan (INR 1400 Cr)). Additionally, since 2014, the IIFCL Framework Loan provides support to a series of investments projects which are contributing to the mitigation of climate change.

India and the EU have engaged to strengthen links between their flagship initiatives Digital India and the Digital Single Market for Europe.

Regular dialogue takes place within a Joint ICT Working Group, focusing on market access issues for companies on both sides, regulatory issues, ICT standardisation, internet governance and research and innovation (including start-ups). These meetings are complemented by ICT Business Dialogues. Furthermore, a Cyber Security Dialogue focuses on exchanging best practices on addressing cybercrime and strengthening cyber resilience.

The EU supports technical cooperation between the Indian and European telecom standardisation bodies  (TSDSI and ETSI) on future global standards for 5G, Intelligent Transport Systems/Internet of Things, future networks, and security issues.

The EU has also helped bringing together the Indian and European start-up ecosystems under the Start-up Europe India Network initiative.

Both sides are also active supporters of a multi-stakeholder model of Internet Governance. 

The Partnership Instrument (PI) is the EU's first instrument specifically designed to promote the Union's strategic interests worldwide by reinforcing its external strategies, policies and actions. It has four main objectives:

  • Offering policy support and responding to global challenges
  • Projecting the international dimension of Europe 2020
  • Enhancing market access and boosting trade, investment and business opportunities for EU companies
  • Promoting public diplomacy and academic cooperation.

Through the PI, the EU cooperates with partners around the world to advance the Union’s strategic interests and tackle global challenges. The PI funds activities that carry EU agendas with partner countries forward, translating political commitments into concrete measures. The PI is one of the funding instruments that enable the EU to take part in shaping global change and promote its core values. It is one of several instruments included in the EU's budget for 2014-2020 as a means of financing the Union's external action.

The PI finances activities in a number of areas of key interest to the Union. This funding supports the external dimension of EU internal policies – in areas such as competitiveness, research and innovation, as well as migration – and helps to address major global challenges such as energy security, climate change and environmental protection. As one of its main orientations, it will contribute to the external projection of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

The PI also deals with specific aspects of the EU's economic diplomacy with a view to improving access to third-country markets by boosting trade, investment and business opportunities for European companies. It encourages public diplomacy, people-to-people contacts, academic and think tank cooperation and outreach activities.

The EU's interaction with many countries around the world focuses on development cooperation. The PI offers a different approach to established models of development cooperation by promoting policy cooperation with countries of strategic interest to the EU. In particular, it allows the EU to establish a wider political dialogue with emerging partners. It also supports the EU's relations with countries that are no longer eligible for bilateral development aid.

The PI's budget for 2014-2020 amounts to EUR 954.8 million. It can fund activities in any non-EU country, with an emphasis on partner countries of strategic interest to the EU.

 Link to projects: 

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