NEW DELHI, Oct. 6: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday met top leaders from the European Union to discuss measures to strengthen India’s ties with the EU in key areas of trade and security in New Delhi. India and the EU have adopted a declaration to counter terrorism at the 14th India-EU summit. The Prime Minister met European Council President Donald Franciszek Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker but no major headway was given on the free trade pact which has been delayed for a long time.
India and the EU also held extensive discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues, including the Rohingya crisis and volatile situation in the Korean peninsula. Prime Minister Modi told reporters that the two sides have agreed to work in close cooperation against terrorism. “We have agreed to strengthen our security cooperation and work together against terrorism. We will not only further strengthen our bilateral cooperation on this issue, but will also increase our cooperation and coordination in multilateral fora,” PTI quoted the Prime Minister as saying.
After the summit, India and the EU also inked three pacts which included one on an international solar alliance.”We have adopted a joint declaration on counter-terrorism in which we agreed to counter violent extremism and radicalisation, particularly online, and to deal effectively with the threat by foreign terrorist fighters, terrorist financing and arms supply,” PTI quoted European Council President Donald Franciszek Tusk as saying.
Taking note of the fact that the EU is the largest investor in India and also its largest trading partner, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stated that the equation between Indian and the European Union will remain unchanged even as Britain has decided to exit the 28-nation bloc.”It is the time for a Free Trade Agreement between India and the European Union. Once the conditions are right, and only when the conditions are right we resume (talks). Today’s summit is an important step in the right direction,” Juncker said.
Juncker also informed reporters that the chief negotiators from the two sides will sit together in the coming days to chart the way forward and that they should step up work to ensure the free flow of data. He also stressed on high standards of data protection since Indian IT companies offer their services to companies from the EU.
Asserting that the protection of data was a precondition for exchanging personal data freely and fully, Juncker said that Indian companies were specialised in offering back office services and IT services to IT firms in EU.
He asserted that data protection was a precondition for exchanging personal data freely and fully. Indian companies are specialised in offering back office services and IT services to IT companies in EU. ” Many of these services and jobs that go with them depend on exchange of data. If India’s standards of data protection are converging with those of the European Union, the European Union will be in a position to recognise the adequacy of India’s goods” PTI quoted the European Commission President as saying.
The EU is India’s largest regional trading partner with bilateral trade in goods at USD 88 billion in 2016. It also remains the largest destination for Indian exports and a key source of investment and technologies.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that India received around USD 83 billion of foreign direct investment from Europe during 2000-17, which constitutes approximately 24 per cent of total FDI inflows into the country during the period.
The two sides have been strategic partners since 2004 and held the 13th India-EU summit in Brussels last year during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Europe. However, the summit meeting had also failed at making any headway on the resumption of long-stalled negotiations for a free trade agreement.
India and the 28-nation bloc have also decided to boost cooperation on maritime security in the Indian Ocean and beyond which, according to Tusk, will lead to enhanced military cooperation between them. He also welcomed the resumption of tactical exercise in the Gulf of Aden between EU’s Naval Force Atlanta and the Indian Navy.
TIE With PTI inputs