New body aims to increase trade between India and the EU
India and the European Union have announced the setting up of the India-EU Trade and Technology Council, with the aim of tackling the key trade, economic and technological challenges that lie ahead.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signed the deal at the end of April, making India only the second country after the US to have such a mechanism with the 27-nation EU.
One of the main focuses of the Council will be climate-related issues, with the possibility of India and the EU collaborating on a green hydrogen project. Also on the agenda are the challenges brought by Covid-19 and the situation in Afghanistan, Myanmar and other geopolitical developments in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Both sides agreed that rapid changes in the geopolitical environment highlight the need for joint in-depth strategic engagement,” the EU said in a statement.
“The Trade and Technology Council (TTC) will provide the political steer and the necessary structure to operationalise political decisions, coordinate technical work, and report to the political level to ensure implementation and follow-up in areas that are important for the sustainable progress of European and Indian economies,” it said.
The EU said the TTC will facilitate joint working in high-tech areas like 5G, quantum computing, climate modelling and healthcare solutions. “Our relationship is more important than ever. We have so much in common,” von der Leyen said during the meeting with Modi to sign the agreement.
Modi said he was delighted to hold talks with the European leader and that both sides reviewed the “full range of India-EU ties including economic and cultural linkages”.
And von der Leyen added: “We are vibrant democracies, we both support wholeheartedly the rules-based international order and we have both large economies, and we are both facing a challenging global landscape.
“For the European Union, the partnership with India is one of our most important relationships for the coming decade and strengthening this partnership is a priority,” she said, adding that she was glad that both sides are starting negotiations on comprehensive trade and investment agreements.
The European Union said the EU-India TTC will allow both partners to tackle challenges “at the nexus of trade, trusted technology and security, and thus deepen cooperation in these fields”.
The EU said the shared values and common interests of the EU and India offer a strong basis to intensify mutually beneficial and deeper strategic cooperation.
Decades of close partnership
“The European Union and India are bound by decades of close partnership and are determined to increase joint efforts to tackle current challenges and address geopolitical circumstances,” it said.
It said establishing the EU-India council is a key step toward a strengthened strategic partnership for the benefit of all peoples in the EU and India.
“I am thinking of three main topics – trade, technology and security. That is why I am pleased that Prime Minister Modi and I have agreed to establish an EU-India Trade and Technology Council,” said von der Leyen. She described India as “technologically a powerhouse”, and said: “We need to unleash an enormous amount of untapped potential.”
The European Commission President said the EU will “diversify away” from fossil fuels and invest heavily in clean renewable energy.
The EU leader also talked about digital revolution and the importance of privacy issues. She said: “We share the idea that privacy should be guaranteed online as well as offline, and that technology should enhance individual freedom, not the state's ability to control us. Think about data protection,” she said.
“European companies outsource many of their IT processes to Indian companies. Europe generates almost one-third of the revenues for the Indian Business Process Outsourcing sector. With equivalent rules, we could unlock even greater data flows between our regions,” the EU supremo said.