On Monday, India and the European Union (EU) decided to form a Trade and Technology Council, a strategic mechanism to address the issues of assuring trusted technology and security in the face of rapid geopolitical change – a move that is expected to strengthen their strategic partnership.
The decision to form such a council will be India’s first with any of its partners and the EU’s second after the first with the US.
Both sides agreed that rapid changes in the geopolitical environment highlight the need for joint in-depth strategic engagement. The Trade and Technology Council will provide the political steer and the necessary structure to operationalize 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,” said a joint statement.
The news comes ahead of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s two-day visit to the nation’s capital, which begins on April 24. This was her first trip to India in her new position.
On Monday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the president of the European Commission achieved an agreement on the formation of the council.
“Strengthening the EU-India partnership is a key priority for this decade. We will step up cooperation in trade, technology, and security. This is why I’m pleased that (Narendra) Modi and I will establish an EU-India Trade and Technology Council,” she tweeted.
Both leaders also discussed the status of trade talks, with India and the EU resuming talks on a comprehensive free trade agreement and an investment agreement.
After the World Trade Organization’s 12th ministerial conference in June, the next round of trade talks between India and the EU is likely to take place. A group of officials led by Commerce Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam was in Brussels earlier this month to draw up a framework for a trade pact.
Following that, EU legislators traveled to India to continue the talks.
“The EU and India are bound by decades of close partnership and are determined to increase joint efforts to tackle current challenges and address geopolitical circumstances,” added the joint statement.
The conference took place against the backdrop of continuous turmoil in Eastern Europe, with Western nations attempting to persuade India to denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. India has taken a neutral stance on the crisis thus far.
Separately, von der Leyen warned that the outcome of Russia’s assault on Ukraine will affect not just Europe’s future, but also the Indo-Pacific region and the rest of the world, addressing at the opening session of the multinational flagship conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics — Raisina Dialogue. Russia’s aggressiveness in Ukraine is viewed as a direct danger to Europe’s security.
“Countries battered by two years of the Covid-19 pandemic must now deal with rising prices for grain energy and fertilizer as a direct result of (Vladimir) Putin’s war of choice. The outcome of the war will not only determine the future of Europe but also deeply affect the Indo-Pacific region and the rest of the world. We want a positive vision for a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. The region is home to half of the world’s population and 60 percent of global GDP,” she said.