EU-India relations further strengthened after the Leaders’ Meeting, say think tanks experts

(Source: EEAS)

New Delhi, 13 May 2021: Leading European and Indian think tanks came together to discuss the outcome of the EU-India Leaders’ Meeting of May 8 yesterday at a virtual discussion organized under the EU India Think Tanks Twinning Initiative. 

H.E. Mr. Ugo Astuto, Ambassador of the European Union to India and Bhutan, and Mr. Sandeep Chakravorty, Joint Secretary and Head of Europe West Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, provided debrief from the EU-India Leaders’ Meeting, sharing the key deliverables, the political mood at the Leaders’ meeting, and the next steps. They welcomed the launch of the EU-India Connectivity Partnership and the new impetus on trade and investment with the resumption of the Free Trade Agreement negotiations, and the launch of negotiations on investment protection and geographical indications. They shared the view that the EU-India strategic partnership has become even stronger during the pandemic and looked forward to translating the broad-based joint agenda into actions. 

Ambassador Ugo Astuto conveyed a message of solidarity with India and underlined that, “The international community must address the current crisis in a spirit of solidarity. The EU and India can shape the global agenda in this respect, as strategic partners sharing the same democratic values.” Moving forward, “India and the EU need to work together for the global, common good. We are forces of good in the world. The Leaders’ Meeting has shown the willingness and intent to work closer together and you will see much more action in the coming months,” Mr. Sandeep Chakravorty said. The Q&A of the debrief was moderated by Ms. Stefania Benaglia,EUPOP India. 

During the subsequent discussion, leading Indian and European think tank experts exchanged their views of the recent EU-India Leaders’ Meeting.  Dr Constantino Xavier, Fellow, Centre for Social and Economic Progress (CSEP), New Delhi, observed that “we are returning to the golden age of the EU-India strategic partnership.” In his point of view, the Connectivity Partnership illustrated an unprecedented “familiarity, comfort, and alignment of ideas” between the EU and India. 

Ms. Velina Tchakarova, Director, Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES), Vienna, underlined the contemporary geopolitical context shaped by ongoing confrontation between the US and China. “With the EU’s investment agreement with China on hold, the resumption of trade negotiations between the EU and India should be seen as a geo-economic project,” she said.

Amb. Neelam Deo, Director of Gateway House – Indian Council on Global Relations, Mumbai, called for a deeper discussion on green growth. “In all the change and new thinking that is going on in the world, nobody has the same attitude to financial stimulus”, she noted. 

Mr. Patryk Kugiel, Senior Analyst, The Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), Warsaw, underscored that practical and financial details are key to the implementation of the EU-India Connectivity Partnership. “The format of the leaders’ meeting provided an opportunity for both the EU and India to have more balanced approach vis-à-vis each other, allowing smaller Member States to reach out to India”, he observed. The discussion was moderated by Prof. Ummu Salma Bava, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. 

Mr. Christophe Manet, First Counsellor – Head of Political Affairs, Delegation of the European Union to India, welcomed the participants to the virtual event. “This was the 16th Summit Meeting between the EU and India since its start in 2000. But it was the first time that the Heads of Governments of the EU member states joined the Presidents of the Council and the Commission in meeting the Indian Prime Minister,” he informed. 

In the concluding remarks, Mr. Ioannis Argyropoulos, Head of Division for South Asia, European External Action Service (EEAS), Brussels, pointed to “the vibrant diplomatic craft since the last Summit, which took place only ten months ago”. With the Leaders’ Meeting, “both sides wanted to prove that they could walk the talk”. 

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