Posted on January 27, 2020, 1:35 PM IST
It has been reported that the CAA demonstrations have started drawing flake from the European communities as well. The European Parliament is most likely to set up six resolutions on India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act this week, with the two largest groups of its members strongly criticising the law for its negative consequences for internal stability and potential for creating a “statelessness crisis”.
The draft resolutions were chalked out on January 22 as part of the procedures to wind up the debate on the European Commission’s vice president’s statement on CAA and are expected to be taken up for debate during a plenary session on January 29. There will also be a vote on the issue on January 30, according to the European Parliament.
Five of the resolutions are critical of CAA and the Indian government’s handling of protests against the law, with only one resolution by the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group, a centre-right political group, showing some support for the government’s actions.
The development comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expected visit to Brussels in March for the India-EU Summit. The visit had figured in the meeting between Modi and EU high representative for foreign policy Josep Borrell in New Delhi on January 17.
The CAA fast-tracks the process for granting citizenship to members of non-Muslim persecuted minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The necessity of the law was recently questioned by Bangladeshi premier Sheikh Hasina.
The European People’s Party (EPP) Group, a centre-right group that is the largest with 182 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), said the CAA “is selective and excludes Muslims from provisions provided to other religious groups” and expressed concern about the “wide range of negative consequences that it might have for India’s international image and internal stability”.
Reacting to the development, an Indian official said on condition of anonymity: “We hope the sponsors and supporters of the draft will engage with us to get a full and accurate assessment of the facts before they proceed further. As fellow democracies, the EU Parliament should not take actions that call into question the rights and authority of democratically elected legislatures in other regions of the world.”
“The CAA is a matter that is entirely internal to India. Moreover, this legislation has been adopted by due process and through democratic means after a public debate in both Houses of Parliament,” the official added.
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?
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.