The European Union and India launched negotiations on a bilateral free trade and investment agreement in June 2007. However, between the governments, a number of controversies have been plaguing the talks. Delhi wants Brussels to relax its stringent food safety criteria which penalise Indian farm and fishery exports and to make it easier for Indian professionals to work in the EU. Europe is primarily out to win major openings of India’s services sector and broad liberalisation of foreign investment, while India does not want to discuss allowing European firms to compete in India’s government procurement market.
Indian social movements, including fisherfolk and labour unions, people living with HIV/AIDS and other health activists have been mobilizing against the FTA. International actions and campaigns have particularly targeted the proposed intellectual property provisions of the agreement, and the impact of the FTA on access to medicines.
last update: May 2012
Following the conclusion of an FTA with South Korea, the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, has stepped up efforts to reinvigorate the trade negotiations with India. However, two key contentious issues are standing in the way of further progress, namely tariff liberalisation and public procurement.
Two years after the European Union and India began negotiating a Free Trade Agreement that has enemies in both places, the talks are continuing with the hope of concluding by the end of the year, but not in time for the EU-India Summit in New Delhi on Nov. 6.
“Real negotiations between the two sides have not started yet,” says the head of the delegation of the European Commission in India
Ahead of the next round of talks on a bilateral trade treaty with India, the European Union today said it was keen that the comprehensive pact included government procurement agreement, which India has resisted so far.
The European Union on Friday said it would prefer to resolve two commercial disputes with India without engaging in a legal battle at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The first dispute involves seizure of Indian generic drugs in transit at some EU-based ports, including Amsterdam, which were bound for certain third world countries, on the grounds of patents infringement.
Even the most optimistic amongst those involved in the process admit the talks to be in a deadlock that neither side has the political will to break.
The European Union’s demands on India to take on higher intellectual property (IP) standards, if adopted, could spell disaster for the supply of low-cost generic medicines, undermine India’s development and set a significant precedent for the future of IPR protection globally, cautioned Dr Carlos M. Correa, an expert on IP and the WTO TRIPS Agreement.
The most affected from the EU-India FTA will be India’s dairy farming sector, where regularly five million women and 15 million men work to meet their daily needs.
What is slowly emerging is the beginning of a composite oppositition to FTAs in India.
A free-trade pact with EU will weaken India’s stance at WTO