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The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for the ratification of the Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement between India and France. 

Background

  • The Agreement is initially valid for a period of seven years, incorporates provision for automatic renewal and a monitoring mechanism through a Joint Working Group.
  • Skilled workers, students and academics from India and France could soon be able to live and work in each other’s countries.
  • France, however, is yet to ratify the pact, awaiting the French parliament’s consent.

New Delhi’s demand for skilled Indian workers to be allowed to work in Europe: In 2016, India and the EU had agreed to hold a high-level dialogue on migration and mobility on a regular basis to reach an agreement on the matter. 

  • The two sides had also agreed on an EU-India common agenda for migration and mobility at the 13th India-EU Summit held in Brussels, in March 2016, to increase bilateral cooperation.
  • It has been a major sticking point in talks with European officials under the umbrella of a long-negotiated free-trade pact, titled the India-European Union Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).

European countries’ objection

  • Migration is a hot political issue in Europe, so they have been emphasizing the economic needs-based mobility of workers to plug, what they determine, as specific skills gaps.
  • The EU has usually insisted that the entry of workers will depend on the state of demand (of workers and professionals) rather than as an automatic economic right.

Broad-based trade and investment agreement (BTIA)

  • Negotiations for a free trade pact formally called a broad-based trade and investment agreement (BTIA), between the EU and India, started in 2007 but were unofficially suspended in 2013.
  • India’s decision to end/suspend bilateral investment treaties it has with its partner countries, including EU members, and seek fresh pacts based on its model investment pact is a fresh area of concern. 
  • The EU wants India to sign a single investment treaty with all members as part of the BTIA and wants a number of items suggested in the model treaty removed, including provisions on Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).
  • The EU is now insistent that the BIT also is part of the BTIA being negotiated and this has made the matter more complicated as there are several areas where India and the EU don’t see eye to eye.
  • The EU is of the opinion that there are too many provisions in India’s model BIT that protect the government and go against the interest of the investor.

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NuGen Mobility Summit-2019