The relationship between India and Europe is all set to reach new milestones. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent tour to Europe is being largely claimed as India’s first step to pave the way for a better and stronger relationship with the European Union. The EU is currently dealing with the aftermath of Brexit and an unfavorable change in the administration of the United States.
Narendra Modi’s stops in Europe – Germany, Spain and France – clearly indicate that these countries are going to be the ones to hold the reigns of EU post-Brexit. PM Modi’s visit to Germany came just days after the German Chancellor Angela Merkel had stated that Europe could no longer depend on its traditional partners, following US President Donald Trump’s decision of pulling America out of the Paris Accord.
India and Europe face a shared dilemma with America’s shifting policies. Europe’s disappointment with Donald Trump stems not only from his attitude towards the Paris Accord, but also from his refusal to reaffirm NATO’s Article 5 on ‘collective defense’ and his warning on the trade deficit with Europe. India has been facing a similar disappointment as the US is forging closer ties with China and Trump’s targeting Indian professionals and businesses to protect American jobs.
While the clear convergence between the EU and India will definitely strengthen India and Europe relationship, a dependable alliance could only be forged through a concurrent worldview. It is no coincidence that the Chinese leader Xi Jinping arrived in Europe just a few days after PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the country. Given the current Sino-Indian tensions, India wouldn’t be comfortable with the amount of faith reposed in China by the EU.
A similar discomfort could be caused on the European front due to Narendra Modi’s attendance at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum to unveil a new Indo-Russian vision statement for 21st century, since the European Union perceives Moscow to be its single largest threat.
However, the post-Brexit reordering of Europe is going to open up a whole new lot of opportunities for India and Europe relationship. For example, Brexit opens up the possibility of a mutually beneficial India-UK free trade deal that wouldn’t have happened under the aegis of the old EU. Similarly, Brexit indirectly puts pressure on EU to get its own long-delayed trade agreement with India up and running.