This session takes place as part of the annual conference by the Young Fair Trade Advocates. To participate in future sessions, register as a young fair trade advocate.
In June 2022, the European Union and India resumed negotiations for “balanced, ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial” trade and investment agreements. Such negotiations already took place a decade ago, but stalled given irreconcilable differences. However, these differences have not been resolved, and concerns about serious inequality, workers’ rights and environment continue. Additionally, there are now very serious concerns about shrinking civic spaces and systematic persecution of civil society actors, human rights defenders, journalists and academics in India through counter-terror legislation, and evidence that India has become an “electoral autocracy”. Within a geopolitical landscape in which the EU sees India as an indispensable partner, there are serious concerns that the agreement will be concluded at any cost – and at the expense of people. In fact, the EU and India have expressed their intention to conclude the negotiations already before their respective elections in 2024. In contrast, attacks on civic space and other gross assaults on human rights have been systematically side-lined in the wider EU-India relationship. In this context, a dozen organisations with the support of The London Story and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office raised the alarm bells in a joint statement in April.