The European Union and India have agreed to resume stalled free trade negotiations and seek to approach cooperation to combat climate change at a virtual summit, as concerns about China bring to Brussels and New Delhi nearby.
Partly covered by India’s COVID-19 crisis, the meeting on Saturday brought together Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all 27 bloc leaders for the first time in eight years as a a sign of the EU’s renewed interest in the Indo-Pacific region. .
Past EU-India summits have involved only the prime minister of India and the chief executive and chairman of the EU.
“We have agreed to continue negotiations for a… trade agreement that will address current challenges,” EU and Indian leaders said in a statement after the talks, adding that in order to move forward the speaking, market access issues must be resolved by both sides.
In practice, the EU and India will begin talks on a separate investment protection agreement and approval of geographical indications – famous brand names that are often associated with manufactured areas, from champagne to France to Darjeeling tea in India.
“Between the EU and India there is a close relationship but there is also a lot of untapped potential,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “The most untapped potential is in sales and investment.”
China’s rise from an attractive trading partner to a rival power with a growing military presence has alarmed the West and its allies in the Indo-Pacific, where Brussels wants more influence.
“We agree that, as the two most populous democracies in the world, the EU and India have a common interest in ensuring security, prosperity and sustainable development in a multi-polar world,” the joint statement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the continuation of the talks.
“Negotiations have also stalled on several occasions and that is why I am glad that they have resumed,” he said after the informal EU summit.
He said he expects the work to continue at a “faster pace”.
EU-India trade talks froze in 2013 due to differences including tariff cuts, patent protection, data security and the right of Indian professionals to work in Europe.
Meeting today is an important thing in relationships.
We agreed that we would continue negotiating the Free Trade agreement!
In expertise, we will launch negotiations on an EU-India investment protection agreement and Geographic Indications. pic.twitter.com/FwA35u4G6K
– Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) May 8, 2021
Competition in China
The bloc leaders, at an EU summit in Porto in Portugal, faced pressure for the Modi government’s crackdown on dissent, with civil society groups including Amnesty International having a vigilance. by candle outside the summit venue.
Ahead of the talks, Amnesty International called on EU leaders to push Modi to “live” on equal pay.
“A refusal to allow disagreement is a sign of Prime Minister Modi’s time in office,” said Eve Geddie, director of the EU rights group’s office.
A 2020 study by the European Parliament puts the benefits of a trade deal for the EU with India at 8.5 billion euros ($ 10.2bn), even if the estimate was made before the United Kingdom left the bloke.
The EU and India have also agreed to build infrastructure projects around the world, especially in Africa, to be described as a joint venture.
The agreement follows an agreement between the EU and Japan in 2019, calling for an alternative infrastructure approach to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that is questionable in the West and Tokyo.
Both sides also promised more cooperation to limit climate change. The statement said the EU and India will hold meetings to work together on renewable energy, energy storage technologies and the creation of modern power grids.