EU Enlargement Will Benefit India

New Delhi, April 29 | Updated: Apr 30 2004, 05:30am hrs
With 10 countries from central, eastern and southern Europe set to join the European Union (EU) on May 1, one after the other the new entrants are out to impress upon India the fact that its business relationship with EU will be enhanced following the enlargement.

So Irish ambassador Philip McDonagh, representing the Irish presidency of the EU, said at a press conference here on Thursday that the enlargement will mean the addition of 10 countries to the EU touching the lives of 450 million citizens across 25 countries.

According to him, it will also have an indirect impact across the world, especially on countries which are strong partners of the EU, such as India.

This is history in the making, declared head of delegation of the European Commission in India, Francisco da Camara Gomes.

Listing the political, economic, and cultural benefits of the enlargement, Mr da Camara said that there will an almost 20 per cent increase in population with the addition of 76 million people, in rapidly growing economies, to the EUs market of 379 million.

This will boost economic growth, as GDP of EU 25 will increase by 5 per cent compared to EU 15 GDP and create jobs in both old and new member states, he pointed out.

Responding to a question, the EU ambassador said that the enlargement will not automatically mean the immediate extension of a single currency to all ten countries. It will be a question of time before the Euro becomes legal tender in these countries as well, he said.

Export figures show that Indias trade with the acceding countries is on the increase. Taking into account the data for the last three years from 1999-2000 to 2001-02, exports have incre-ased from Rs 10 bn to Rs 13.7 bn.

Though the share of the ten new members in Indias total exports was small, these figures only prove that the candidate countries were a growing market, and needed to be explored further, Mr da Camara said.

Responding to another query, Mr McDonagh said that the new members will have to adopt the community common customs tariff. As far as farm products are concerned, most acceding countries have a lower average rate, though the biggest agricultural economies such as Poland and Hungary have rates that are higher than the average tariff for EU imports of farm goods.