Delivered in Plenary - 28th September 2005
One of my proudest achievements in this House was to co-found three years ago the informal intergroup, Friends of India. Since then India has gone from strength to strength and is now a strategic partner with the EU, which I warmly welcome.
India remains a stable secular democracy, which therefore disproves the Chinese position that size of country is a bar to democracy and human rights. The Sixth EU-India Summit in New Delhi on 7 September between EU Council President Tony Blair, Commission President Barroso and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was a great success, with the signing of the joint action plan for an EU-India strategic partnership.
This sets up a high-level group to study differences over intellectual property rights, anti-dumping and non-tariff barriers. It is clearly in India's interests to join forces in the WTO negotiations to lower protectionist barriers, particularly in services such as accounting, law and finance, as this will free up trade and generate greater investment flows.
India now has a 220 million-strong middle class and India-EU trade volumes touched USD 35.37 billion last year and are growing at an astonishing 20% per annum. India recently bought Airbus, and in my country we are outsourcing call centres and even healthcare to India, which I – unlike my UKIP colleague – welcome.
India, though, still only represents 1.5% of the EU's external trade, compared to the EU representing some 20% for India, so the growth potential remains enormous. More could be done to facilitate so-called Mode 4, free movement of professionals – particularly research scientists – and India is now participating, as mentioned, in the Galileo project.
I was responsible for the amendment to the report asking for India to be granted privileged status in the exchange of information with Europol in fighting terrorism. I was pleased that this was raised at the summit.
Lastly, I thank India that in spite of its Communist Party protest it voted with the US and the EU on an IAEA resolution on Iran's nuclear programme.
India deserves its own dedicated European Parliament delegation.