Brussels, 18 Jun 2004
The European Commission feels that now is the right time to upgrade EU-India relations to a 'truly strategic partnership'. Research would be one of the areas to benefit from closer cooperation, as indicated by proposals on the information society, transport, energy, biotechnology, Galileo and space included in the Commission's 16 June communication.
'India is changing, dramatically and fast,' states the Commission paper. 'In recent years, the relationship with the European Union has developed exponentially in terms of shared vision, goals and challenges.'
India already participates in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) for research, and a 'scientific and technological cooperation agreement' provides the legal framework for cooperation between scientists. India's participation in Galileo, Europe's satellite navigation system, has also now been formalised.
But the participation of Indian researchers in FP6 and, vice versa, the participation of EU scientists in Indian research programmes, should be promoted, according to the Commission. Further contacts should also be established between research organisations and individual researchers.
The Commission also calls for India to be involved in the development of the Seventh Framework Programme, and for an assessment of the opportunities for collaboration in other areas, such as fusion energy. Indeed, India has indicated that it would be interested in joining the international thermonuclear energy research project, in which the EU is a partner.
On biotechnology, the Commission notes India's rapid progress, and claims that opportunities for partnership exist in areas such as new discoveries, preclinical and clinical trials, and bioinformatics. The proposals therefore suggest that the EU invites India to engage in a dialogue on biotechnology with regard to such questions as regulatory framework, best practice in funding, research, public control, environmental concerns, technical exchange programmes and infrastructure support institutions.
The Commission invites the Parliament and the Council to endorse the main thrust of the proposals. Once this is secured, the Commission hopes to present the communication at the fifth EU-India summit.
To see the communication in full, please visit: