India-Germany partnership goes beyond diplomatic niceties

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Germany’s recently elected centre-left coalition under Olaf Scholz chose India as a partner for its first government consultations on May 2. understanding and trust that have developed between the two countries. Germany remains one of India’s most important bilateral partners in Europe, a relationship that remains anchored in the broader framework of the EU of which Berlin is a key driver.

The strategic partnership between India and Germany dates back to May 2000. Its institutionalization with the launch of the Intergovernmental Consultations (IGCs) in 2011 at the level of Heads of Government has galvanized this commitment. Germany’s invitation to Narendra Modi to join this year’s G7 summit at Elmau Castle in Bavaria from June 26-28 is the most obvious recognition of the existing strategic partnership.

However, the partnership between Germany and India is not developing only through diplomatic niceties. At the center of convergence is the mutual recognition of common strategic interests. Common interests are particularly relevant to both countries’ quests for strategic autonomy, their focus on the Indo-Pacific, and renewed recognition of climate action.

India and Germany realize that working towards a multipolar world order requires middle powers to support each other in their quest for strategic autonomy. While for India, strategic autonomy means economic multi-alignment and neutrality in international conflicts, Germany increasingly seeks strategic autonomy through the EU. In the context of the Ukrainian crisis, it is interesting to note that, while Germany is trying to reduce its energy dependence on Russia, India has also been made aware of the costs of a dependence excessive single-source defence. Of course, strategic autonomy will only come after the two nations have succeeded in reducing their dependencies, which are real vulnerabilities in the current geo-economic order.

Both countries have now begun to recognize each other’s legitimate interest in technological innovation, standard setting and capacity building to drive national economic growth and resilience. The signing of the global partnership agreement on migration and mobility focusing on employment, higher education and the movement of professionals between the two countries. It is emblematic of the growing level of comfort between the two nations.

By pledging investments in the areas of financial and technical assistance of ₹10 billion, Berlin demonstrated its interest in supporting India’s strategic autonomy. In the near future, the recognition of Bharat Biotech’s World Health Organization (WHO) approved Covaxin can be an immediate action for Germany to recognize India’s emerging role as an international standards body. and patents.

Germany gradually tried to emerge as a geopolitical player even before Russia’s war in Ukraine, which only accelerated the process. Given the central role of Indo-Pacific maritime geography in shaping the international order, Germany was one of the first European nations to adopt its policy directions in 2020. Since then, it has also pushed the EU to articulate a coherent Indo-Pacific policy. . To this end, German policy aims to strengthen its engagement with like-minded nations in the Indo-Pacific in areas ranging from the economy, environment and climate to health and technology.

As skepticism about China’s future global role grows in Europe, strong ties with India have become a strategic imperative. Without India, the logic of the Indo-Pacific does not go very far. New Delhi’s strong articulation of its regional aspirations has generated confidence among its European partners in India’s ability to shape the regional strategic architecture.

The Indo-German partnership has perhaps made the most progress in climate cooperation. Yet closer examination reveals that joint climate action efforts are more successful when geoeconomic and geopolitical risks are heightened. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stipulated an overhaul of Germany’s energy import policy, creating an unprecedented window of opportunity for Indo-German green hydrogen cooperation (GH) as Germany seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

Similarly, India has a difficult task ahead in managing its energy security priorities with rising oil prices. Its vision of green energy as a means of mitigating geo-economic risks is central to the achievements noted in the Indo-German Partnership for Green and Sustainable Development. The two countries have signed nine agreements covering issues such as green energy, sustainable development, the hydrogen task force and forest landscape restoration.

As Germany adjusts to new global realities, a strong partnership with India is an important part of its foreign policy vision today. This new vision has the potential to transform not only this bilateral partnership, but also the wider EU engagement with India.

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