Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

EU-India partnership vital to Europe's future, says Charles Tannock MEP

7th December 2010

The strategic partnership between the European Union and India is vital to Europe's future prosperity and security, Dr Charles Tannock MEP said today ahead of the forthcoming EU-India summit in Brussels.

Dr Tannock, coordinator for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group on the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the summit presented a chance for the EU and India to reaffirm their alliance based on shared values of democracy, liberty and human rights.

Dr Tannock, who is also a member of the Parliament's delegation for relations with India, said the summit should also act as a boost to efforts to negotiate a free trade agreement between the EU and India, a move which would further reinforce the growing economic and commercial importance of the strategic partnership.

Dr Tannock said the summit presented the EU with an opportunity to support India's leadership in the strife-torn South Asia region, to help make India central to the reconstruction of a post-conflict Afghanistan and to work with India on combating international terrorism emanating from its neighbourhood and the Naxalite insurgency domestically.

Noting that US President Barack Obama had recently come out in favour of India having a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, Dr Tannock also said that EU member states should issue a similar statement of support in order to reflect India's status as a global economic and diplomatic powerhouse.

Dr Tannock welcomed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Brussels for the summit and remarked upon his level-headed and astute leadership of his country despite many difficulties including the Mumbai attacks of 2008.

Dr Tannock said:

"India is a successful and vibrant democracy, in fact, the world's largest.

"It stands as a beacon of democracy in a troubled region where genuine, pluralist democracy remains relatively scarce.

"The EU-India strategic partnership is strong because it is based on shared values of respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

"With America, Russia and China all keen to ingratiate themselves with Delhi, the European Union cannot afford to be left behind.

"The EU therefore needs to make every effort to speedily conclude the EU-India free trade agreement which is currently under discussion.

"India is a diplomatic heavyweight and it deserves the EU's strong support both in the South Asia regional context and at the UN, where India's case for permanent membership of the Security Council is growing ever stronger.

"Under the leadership of Manmohan Singh and through the guidance of Sonia Gandhi, India has made great strides in the past few years.

"Many commentators talk about the twenty-first century being the Indian century. If that is so, the EU must ensure it is standing shoulder to shoulder with this emerging gentle giant."