How to Untangle the EU-India Agreement?

EU-India negotiations on BITA – Bilateral Investment and Trade Agreement – started seven years ago. In spite of some recent positive diplomatic declarations, the process has stalled and I believe it will not succeed without a deeper understanding on the nature of the obstacles it faces.

The European Union and India are the biggest democracies in the World. Different in many respects, they must be considered to be on a rigorous equal footing in order for any solid agreement to be achieved. Both of them are confronted with economic and political challenges that can be much better confronted in partnership rather than in isolation.

If we take this approach, and if we therefore consider political agreements such as conventions and observation clauses in human rights to be based on such a rigorous equal footing, most of the existing difficulties can be put aside. Both India and Europe have vibrant and critical civil societies, and the establishment of talk shops where these organizations could freely interact on the critical appraisal of whatever issue might be on the table at the time would certainly be accepted as a sound basis for two open democratic societies to relate to each other.

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Paulo Casaca, founder and executive director of the Brussels-based NGO Alliance to Renew Co-operation among Humankind, has been a MEP from 1999 to 2009 and a Councillor of the Portuguese Permanent Representation from 1996 to 1999. He has taught economics at the University of the Azores and the University of Lisbon, and has served as an economics adviser to the Socialist Group in Portugal. Paulo was a member of the Portuguese National Parliament and the Azorean Regional Parliament. Read other articles by Paulo.

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