India is the world biggest democracy, the second most populated country (1.27 billion inhabitants), the third largest economy in the world (in PPP terms), the fastest-growing large economy with around 7% GDP growth p.a., and nominal GDP per capita of around €1,800 (roughly 24% the EU average in PPP terms).
The European Union’s development cooperation with India spans several decades with a successful track record including education, health, water and sanitation.
EU engagement with India has more recently been focused on the implementation of the EU-India Agenda for Action-2020 in areas such as social and human development, ICT, energy, water, climate change, urban development and resource efficiency.
The EU-India Strategy adopted in 2018 emphasises the importance of the Strategic Partnership by focusing on:
- sustainable modernisation
- fighting climate change
- supporting innovation through increasing people-to-people exchanges and on
- common responses to global and regional issues.
The EU’s development approach has gradually evolved in line with shifting priorities to support India's transition to an upper middle-income status by addressing some of its key development challenges – sustainable and inclusive growth, job creation and building infrastructure and human capital.
Through its work over the years, the EU has provided direct and indirect employment to 6 million people in India. In addition, programmes benefitting from EU support have accomplished the following results:
- The EU helped addressing female foeticide, building capacities of circa 5,000 frontline government service providers and providing support to 1,800 cases of gender based violence.
- Almost 400 community-based information resource centres were established to provide information and facilitate access to government services to marginalised communities, enabling around 2 million poor and marginalized people to benefit from government schemes and entitlements mainly on education, health, social protection, food and work.
- Local government support from the EU resulted in over 11,000 vulnerable women and youth sensitised and trained in leadership development and participatory methodologies.
- EU programmes in India helped 2,500 forest dependent households to transition to sustainable and clean cooking. This resulted in an average saving of 35% on fuel consumption and 40% less dependency on forest for those adapting to new cooking methods.
- 1,500 people with disabilities were provided with small grants to establish their business.
The EU has been adapting its tools to fit the different purposes. In particular with blending initiatives, which combine grants from the EU with loans from international financial institutions and leverage additional funding for specific nationally identified development needs.
The total EU assistance (through the Development Cooperation Instrument) to India between 2007-2013 was around €450 million, while the current portfolio (through the Development Cooperation Instrument and Asia Investment Facility) is approx. €180 million in commitments for the period 2014-2020.
Given that India is going to contribute more than any other country to the projected rise in global energy demand, the EU prioritises the energy sector, with blending activities through the Asia Investment Facility, the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF) and the Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFi), strengthening national capacities and diversifying the use of renewable energies. Other priority sectors include green economy, disaster risk management, trade, public finance management and education.
In addition, the EU also supports Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Local Authorities (LAs). Working with CSOs and LAs, the EU promotes participatory development at the grass roots level, strengthening the capacity of diverse Indian CSOs and LAs in addressing inclusive development issues, promoting human rights and tackling gender violence.