EU and India agree on closer cooperation in energy, transport, digital area

The two sides will resume free trade negotiations and will launch talks on investment shield, geographical indicators

Photo: EU António Costa, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel (L-R), after the news conference following the EU-India Leaders’ Meeting in Porto.

During the EU-India Leaders’ Meeting, held on Saturday afternoon at the Palácio de Cristal in Porto, the two parties agreed to build a sustainable and comprehensive Connectivity Partnership. It will bring closer the two regions in fields like energy, transport, digital shift, research, innovation and education.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi took part at the meeting via videoconference, while most of the EU leaders attended it in person.

Only German’s Merkel, the Netherlands' Rutte, Bulgaria's Borissov and Malta's Abela participated online.

The EU leaders expressed their full solidarity with India in the light of the unprecedented new wave of Covid-19 infections in the country. Last weeks, EU countries had mobilised more than €100m for oxygen, ventilators and medication for India.

The EU and India said they support universal, safe, equitable and affordable access to Covid-19 vaccines, diagnosis and treatment and committed to advancing global health security.

Both sides decided to resume free trade negotiations, to find quick solutions to long-standing market access issues, and to launch as well negotiations on a stand-alone investment protection agreement and on a deal concerning geographical indicators.

At the news conference after the meeting, both European Council President Charles Michel and EC President Ursula von der Leyen underlined that the meeting opens a new chapter in the EU-India relations.

Saying that “we are the world's two largest democracies” and “natural partners in many areas”, President Michel pointed out that he is happy to announce that the EU and India are opening a new important chapter in their relationship.

He remarked that this partnership, based on shared values and convergent interests, “will benefit our citizens, the Indo-Pacific region and the wider world”. We have today agreed on concrete steps to expand this strategic partnership, he added.

President von der Leyen, also outlined that this partnership, concluded between the EU and India in the presence of our 27 Member States, “begins a new chapter in our relations”.

She also emphasised that while the coronavirus still causes terrible devastation, “we must also focus on building back better”.

This Connectivity Partnership will guide our actions over the coming years, providing for joint efforts in creating a greener, more inclusive and prosperous future for the EU, India, and in regions around the world, the EC President specified.

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa stated that the meeting between the EU leaders and the Prime Minister of India was “a success” opening doors so that “we can move forward and quickly implement these new agreements” on trade and investment, with the 27 having decided to resume negotiations after an impasse of eight years.

“We not only decided to relaunch these negotiations, but we have also advanced towards a strategic partnership,” PM Costa highlighted.

The EU was India’s largest trading partner and India’s second largest export destination in 2019. The European Investment Bank has invested in the country €3.03bn in infrastructure, energy and climate projects. In India were created 6,000 EU companies.

 

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