Indian capital New Delhi is all set to host the sixth India-European Union (EU) summit meeting on Wednesday.
British Premier Tony Blair, current president of the European Union (EU), who is arriving in India Tuesday evening from Beijing on a three-day visit , will preside over the sixth Summit on Wednesday.
The India-EU Summit is set to adopt a Joint Action Plan and a Joint Political Declaration to implement the EU-India Strategic Partnership on several important issues including economic, security and environmental ones.
This would be the first Indian-EU summit after the expansion of the membership of the European Union from 15 to 25 on May 1, 2004.
The India-EU Business Summit will also be held on September 7 and will be addressed by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Blair and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at a special plenary session.
The EU is India's biggest trading partner, with the 33 billion US dollars volume recorded in 2004, representing a rise of 17 percent over the previous year. The EU accounts for 25 percent of India's exports.
Twenty-five percent of the foreign direct investment (FDI) in India comes from EU countries and is larger than the share of the US and Japan put together.
EU-India relations go back to the early 1960s. India was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the (then) EEC. The 1994 cooperation agreement signed between EU and India took bilateral relations beyond merely trade and economic cooperation.
Together with the Joint Political Statement signed in 1993, it opened the way for annual ministerial meetings and a broad political dialogue.
From the first India-EU Summit in Lisbon in June 2000, which marked a watershed in the evolution of India-EU relationship, the ties between the two have grown exponentially from what used to be a purely trade and economic driven ties to one covering all areas of interaction.
The 5th Summit at Hague was a landmark Summit for it endorsed the EU's proposal to upgrade its relationship with India to a 'Strategic Partnership'.
The Joint Action Plan to be endorsed at the Wednesday Summit in the form of a Joint Political Declaration is the culmination of the Hague proceedings. However such regular interactions notwithstanding, there are certain issues on which the two sides differ on several including farm subsidies, which are likely to be addressed during the sixth summit.
"Yes, of course there are certain issues of conflict between India and the EU. But I feel that they should be treated separately. Let us, first work on those areas which are of mutual interest, and from which the two sides can gain immensely," says Dr K R G Nair, honorary research professor at New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, an autonomous body on policy matters.
According to Nair, in the changed economic and political scenario, India needs to have closer ties with the European Union.