Rhetoric or Meaningful Partnership?
The European Union (EU)–India relationship has variously been characterized as a relationship ‘in desperate need of some success’ (EUAsia Centre and FRIDE 2011), ‘a relationship between two unequals’ (EUEAPP media ‘elite’ respondent), ‘a loveless arranged marriage’ or a ‘reluctant relationship’ (Khandekar 2011). From an EU perspective, it remains ‘an underexploited two-way relationship’ which suffers from high tariff barriers in India as well as EU import ceilings and restrictions (interview with EU Delegation official, New Delhi, October 2011). From an Indian perspective, the relationship is ‘very amicable’. It is a ‘non-problematic, feel-good relationship’ (EUEAPP, political ‘elite’ respondents; civil society ‘elite’ respondent) but is also ‘not very active’ (EUEAPP, civil society ‘elite’ respondent) and lacks momentum (EUEAPP, business ‘elite’ respondent). An Indian climate campaigner recently described it as ‘a stable relationship, not deteriorating but pretty much stagnant for the past, at least one decade or so’ (EUEAPP, civil society ‘elite’ respondent). So why bother studying European–Indian relations? Why this book? When we embarked upon this project, we felt that the EU–India relationship was understudied and suffered from clichés that were repeated time and again from one publication to the next. One of these was that India only began to take European integration seriously in the 1990s.