International Affairs



It gives me great pleasure to accept the Letter of Credence from His Excellency Mr. Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, accrediting you as the Head of the Commission’s Delegation in India in the rank of Ambassador. I warmly welcome you to India and extend to you my best wishes for the fulfilment of your responsibilities. I also take this opportunity to thank President Prodi for his greetings, which I reciprocate most cordially, and convey my best wishes to the people of all the 15 nations that constitute the European Union.

Excellency, you assume your responsibilities in India at a time when India and European Union are moving towards developing a truly broad-based relationship. With the first ever India-EU Summit which was held in Lisbon on June 28, 2000, we have opened a new chapter in our political and economic dialogue and demonstrated the importance we both attach to our relationship. The Summit Declaration is a visionary document which covers every aspect of the India-EU relationship and provides an action plan for upgrading this to a qualitatively higher level. It also reflects the commonality of views between India and European Union on many issues, both political and economic, including a shared conviction that we need to build up a new strategic partnership in the new century. We hope that the new institutional architecture proposed by us to further develop and focus the India-EU relationship will be examined carefully by the EU side so that it can be made effective as early as possible.

India and the European Union, as you have observed, share a commitment to the tenets of democracy, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, tolerance and plurality. These values are the underpinnings of the society and polity which we have built up. They are also the underpinnings of the European Union and the India-EU partnership. This natural advantage of shared principles has been built upon through regular exchanges at all levels – ministerial, senior official, business and people-to-people. We look forward to the continuation and intensification of these exchanges.

Excellency, the economic and commercial ties between India and the EU are strong but do not fully reflect the potential which exists. The EU is India’s largest trading partner, an important source of investment, a major contributor of development assistance and a major destination for our service providers. The complementarities of the Indian and the European economy, however, do lead us to the conclusion that the current volume of bilateral trade and investment is but a fraction of what can be possible. The opportunities can only grow, as the European Union enlarges and as the Indian economic reforms progress further.

Along with the process of economic liberalisation that we have initiated, we are also according top priority to the further development and promotion of the infrastructure of our economy, of science and technology and information technology. We are striving for a leading position in the emerging areas of bio-technology, pharmaceuticals and other knowledge based sectors of the economy. These are just some of the areas in which Indian and European companies can cooperate effectively. Our need for private investment for upgrading our power, communications, roads, ports and other infrastructural facilities, presents a significant opportunity for the European companies to capitalise upon. India is today a most attractive investment destination and measures which we have instituted such as automatic approval for FDI in most areas, single window procedures for fast approvals in others, reduction of bureaucratic procedures, etc., provide for a conducive business climate.

India has also been engaged in a sustained effort to move towards a more open trading regime and greater integration with the global economy. We do agree that globalisation opens up opportunities which, if properly harnessed, can bring greater benefits for all. It is important, however, to ensure that the process of globalisation is as inclusive as possible. As matters stand, there is a growing perception amongst Indian industry and trade that the anticipated gains of globalisation to developing economies have not materialised fully. You will, through interaction with our business community, appreciate their disappointment with the lack of access to the markets of the developed world in areas where the developing countries enjoy comparative advantage. The need to address the broader trade issues with respect to market access in order to strengthen the libersalisation process will, we hope, also be appreciated by the European Union.

Excellency, as we enter the new millennium, the scourge of international terrorism, narco-terrorism, illicit arms trade and religious extremism presents one of the most serious threats to international peace, security and stability and the integrity of nations. The international community needs to address this challenge through effective and well-coordinated joint effort. We are happy that India and the EU are co-operating together to combat this threat and look forward to the early finalisation of the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the United Nations.

India and the EU are, as you have observed, both conscious of the major role which they have to play in the 21st century. Sharing, as we do, a vision of a world order in which power, responsibilities and opportunities are shared, we recognise the need for us to work together to realise this vision. We are fully conscious of the fact that the European Union is today taking on an international political role that is commensurate with its well-known economic strength. There can be no doubt that the EU, given the ongoing process of deepening the Union, will play its due role in the evolving world order.

Excellency, I assure you of the full cooperation and support of the Government of India for the further development of India-EU ties. I wish you a very fruitful and rewarding stay in India and success in all your endeavours to further promote our friendship and co-operation.

Thank you

Jai Hind