A lot of attention in diplomatic circles has been focussed on six resolutions on India's Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) tabled by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), including the four largest blocs within the 751-member House. What exactly do these resolutions say and what do they mean?
What Do The Resolutions State?
The six resolutions have been tabled as part of the European Parliament's debate on the CAA and will be taken up for discussion on January 29. This will be followed by a vote on the matter on January 30.
Most of the resolutions are scathingly critical of the CAA, while some also criticise the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the security lockdown and detentions in Jammu and Kashmir. The most critical is the resolution moved by the S&D Group, the second largest group with 154 MEPs, which states the CAA has the potential to "create the largest statelessness crisis in the world". The resolution by the EPP Group, the largest group with 182 MEPs, says the law could have negative consequences for "India's international image and internal stability".
The Possible Impact Of The Resolutions
The different groups that have tabled the resolutions are working behind the scenes to agree on a compromise text that can be taken up on January 29. Even if the resolutions are debated and passed, they are not binding on the European Commission. However, they can increase pressure on the Indian government at a time when it is grappling with strong criticism from Western powers, including key European Union (EU) members such as Germany, of its handling of the situation in Kashmir, the citizenship law and the NRC implementation in Assam. Experts believe the MEPs could also lobby politicians in their home countries to raise these issues.
Impact On India-EU Relations
The matter is coming up in the European Parliament at a crucial time, as the Indian prime minister is expected to visit Brussels for the India-EU Summit on March 13. One of the groups of MEPs has suggested in its resolution that the CAA should be raised during the visit. The EU has already expressed concern about the situation in Kashmir and a visit to the region by envoys of EU countries is currently being discussed by the EU mission in New Delhi and the external affairs ministry.
Though the two sides have struggled to negotiate a trade agreement, the EU is India's largest trading partner, accounting for 92 billion euros worth of trade in goods in 2018 or 12.9% of total Indian trade, and also a key source of inward FDI, which was worth 5 billion euros in 2014. The EU is also the leading destination for Indian exports – almost 18% of the total value.
How Has India Reacted
There has been no official reaction so far from the external affairs ministry to the resolutions though Indian officials have reiterated the CAA is an "entirely internal" matter and that the law was adopted by due process and through democratic means in Parliament. However, the officials also called on the sponsors and supporters of the resolutions to engage with the Indian government to get a "full and accurate assessment of the facts before they proceed further".