The relationship between the European Union and India has changed substantially in recent years, from that of aid donor and recipient, to one of partnership with opportunities for mutual benefit. If India’s current economic growth continues, the demand for development assistance will go on decreasing. However, India has a population of more than one billion and is home to a third of the world’s poor. Unemployment is high, there are huge disparities in standards of living, and minorities continue to suffer from a disproportionate lack of basic services, such as elementary education, primary healthcare, or safe drinking water.
EU assistance programmes 2007-2013
- Health (40% of aid)
- Education (22% of aid)
An action plan for pro-poor sector reforms accounts for another 38% of the budget allocation and covers economic sectoral dialogues and cooperation, civil society and cultural exchanges, and academic exchanges. The multi-annual indicative programme allocates €260 million to these areas over the first four years (2007-2010). Regional and thematic programmes are also available to provide grant support to relevant organisations in India.
The EU-India strategy for 2002-2006 [372 KB] was to support the Government's policy of reducing poverty by half within the decade, with particular emphasis on social and economic reform, improved governance, and sustainable development. The main challenges were seen as making development more inclusive – especially relating to universal primary education and promoting gender equality, and to deepen and widen structural reforms. The latter includes better governance and infrastructure to improve the investment climate, boost productivity, accelerate growth, and promote full employment.
The Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh State Partnerships were launched in 2006 with €160 million contribution from the EU. Inter-State and regional disparities are being addressed by these partnerships for an innovative sector-wide approach to improve governance, particularly for elementary education and basic health. In Rajasthan, especially, environmental issues are addressed through the state governance agenda, helping to improve the management of natural resources, especially water.
The Erasmus Mundus programme, a scholarship scheme for post-graduate students, operates with a contribution of €33 million (2005-2009) for scholarships to Indian post-graduate students. This scholarship scheme, operational from the academic year of 2005-2006, supports highly qualified individuals to come to Europe to follow master’s programmes.
The EU-India Economic Cross-Cultural Programme (1997-2006) awarded grant funds to 60 projects promoting links and partnerships between EU and Indian civil society organisations, in the fields of media, enterprise and universities.
The District Primary Education Programme, with a grant of €150 million, ended in 2002 and was succeeded by the EU-supported Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) reform programme, aiming to universalise elementary education, for which the Commission committed €200 million in 2001. The programme for enrichment of school-level education (PESLE) is a project with a consortium of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), collaborating under the umbrella of the Aga Khan Foundation funded by the Commission in 1999 to the tune of €11 million. The project aims to improve the quality of school-level education in selected states of India by mainstreaming innovative small-scale experiments carried out by Indian NGOs into the larger government and other systems, with a particular focus on marginalised and disadvantaged groups.
Currently, more than 150 projects involving NGOs and civil society actors are in progress with funding of over €150 million.
The European External Action Service is responsible for drawing up the EU-India cooperation strategy.
Details of other funded projects and programmes, including Asia-wide Programmes, the Small Projects Facility, can be found on the website of the Delegation of the European Union to India.