India-EU Relations.

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PM Modi skeds a high-profile visit to France after India-EU Summit in Portugal​

India and the European Union are expected to signal the start of negotiations for a broad-based trade and investment agreement (BBTIA) at the Portugal Summit on May 8. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the India-EU summit at Lisbon before he flies to France for a high-profile bilateral visit, people familiar with the matter said.


Technical negotiations on the trade agreement, which is also being pursued by external affairs minister S Jaishankar at a diplomatic level, will begin between April 9 and 19. There is a possibility of a meeting between commerce minister Piyush Goyal and EU executive vice president and commissioner for trade Valdis Dombrovskis later this month-end. The date for the Goyal-Dombrovskis meeting is still to be decided, EU diplomats said.

Despite India being one of the largest trade partners of the EU, the trade negotiations, which began in 2007, have been sluggish in the past with differences over tariff levels of wines and spirits, auto components, small cars and data security. “However, both sides have shown more accommodation this time and are willing to have a positive view towards exports from both blocks,” said a senior official.

The EU will be under pressure to complete the trade deal with India since India is expected to sign a bilateral trade agreement with post-Brexit Britain during UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to New Delhi on April 26.

PM Modi, who will travel to Portugal for the India-EU Summit being held under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, will continue on the second leg of his tour to France for a bilateral visit. Maritime security will be the heart of his summit-level talks with French President Emmanuel Macron.

While the broad agenda of the bilateral visit to France will be finalised during the two-day visit of foreign minister Jean Yves Le Drian to India beginning April 12, both countries are expected to impart a new meaning to defence and security cooperation apart from the political synergy in multilateral platforms. Diplomatic advisor to President Macron, Emmanuel Bonne is also deeply involved in the bilateral exercise with a special focus on acquiring new capabilities and the latest technologies to counter any aggression in the Indo-Pacific.
 

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India and EU to seal connectivity agreement, revive negotiations on trade​

The connectivity agreement between India and the European Union will open a new chapter in relations with both the power blocks slated to create assets in third countries, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

India and European Union are all set to seal a connectivity agreement at the May 8 virtual summit at Lisbon apart from reviving the negotiations on the stalled trade and investment agreement.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to deepen cooperation at the summit with Charles Michel, President of European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, the connectivity agreement will open a new chapter in relations with both the power blocks slated to create assets in third countries, particularly in the Indo-Pacific.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to the Twitter on Monday to express his gratitude to the European Union for its support to India on its fight against the coronavirus disease.

According to diplomatic sources in EU, the connectivity agreement will link India and EU in transport, energy, digital world and people to people contacts by creating assets and capacities in not only India and EU but also joint investment in third countries. The connectivity agreement will not only based on rules based order but also involve private sector to create assets in the Indo-Pacific region without burdening the third country with debt.

“It is an India-EU answer to China’s Belt Road Initiative as the connectivity partnership will take to account environment and sustainable development and totally transparent processes…..it is akin to India-Japan bidding in Sri Lankan port project,” said an EU diplomat.

The President of the European Union Commission, Ursula von der Leyen later wrote on Twitter, "There is clear momentum to strengthen our strategic relations on trade, digital, climate change & multilateralism. I'm encouraged by the prospect of intensifying our trade & investment relations. This would tap into a huge potential to the benefit of our businesses & citizens."

The India-EU summit comes at a time when the latter has come up with its Indo-Pacific policy. Although many a experts have questioned that the EU Indo-Pacific policy only names India once, EU diplomats in their briefing have made it clear India is central to their policy along with US and Japan.

“If the yardstick is naming a country, then US has not been named even once. With EU-China comprehensive trade and investment agreement on the back-burner, it is quite clear where the European consortium of nations is looking,” said an ambassador in Europe.
 

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Trade and beyond: a new impetus to the EU-India Partnership​

Narendra Modi is the prime minister of India. António Costa is the prime minister of Portugal, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.


The meeting of the leaders of the European Union and India taking place tomorrow is a moment of profound geopolitical significance. By bolstering the dialogue between the world’s two largest democratic spaces, it will provide new impetus to our partnership — with a positive effect on international trade and investment.


India’s role as a major regional and global player is set to continue to expand over the coming years, and a strengthened partnership would offer Europe an opportunity to diversify relations in a strategic region of the world.

The EU and India have periodically pledged to expand our cooperation, building on the architecture set out in our 1994 Strategic Partnership. But the realization of that ambition has remained a challenge compared to the opportunities offered by our economies, and the dynamics of technological development.


The Porto EU-India Leaders’ Meeting promises to be a pivotal moment in this regard, giving new momentum to the partnership between the world’s two largest democratic spaces, made up of over 1.8 billion people. This dialogue will be crucial to rebalance relations between the EU and the Indo-Pacific. It is key for us to reaffirm our firm belief in democracy, rule of law, tolerance and the universality and indivisibility of human rights.


We must seize this opportunity to elevate our relationship, using the huge potential of our democratic spaces to advance trade and investment ties and to support effective multilateralism and a rules-based order.


The meeting is a chance to expand cooperation between the EU and India in new areas of decisive importance for the development of contemporary societies and economies: the digital transition, connectivity, mobility, health, the energy transition and climate action.


The EU and India are already key partners in issues of growing relevance for the development and sustainability of our societies. Tomorrow, we will open and widen new paths of cooperation. For example, the EU and India will launch a Connectivity Partnership aiming at furthering the cooperation on transport, energy, digital and people-to-people contacts.


The meeting is also an opportunity to give a new impetus to trade and investment negotiations between the EU and India.

The EU is India’s biggest trading partner and the second largest destination for Indian exports. Trade between the EU and India has increased 72 percent in the last decade. The EU is also the leading foreign investor in India. Its share in foreign investment inflows has more than doubled in the last decade. Some 6,000 European companies are present in India, generating 1.7 million direct and 5 million indirect jobs. Growing investments from India in recent years have also meant active presence of Indian companies in the EU as well.


It is the right time to resume negotiations toward an ambitious and balanced trade agreement capable of acting as a key driver for sustainable growth and jobs creation, both for India and Europe. Apart from everything else, an EU-India agreement would send a powerful signal to the world in support of the benefits of international trade cooperation.


A similar rationale applies to investment. The negotiation of an EU wide investment protection framework would provide greater stability and certainty to companies from India and EU to expand their presence in each other’s markets.


EU-India relations have always been marked by mutual support and solidarity. This has been evident during the coronavirus pandemic, when both have supported each other and the rest of the world. India extended medical supplies to Europe earlier and now the EU has extended assistance to India as it experiences a second wave of COVID-19.


Portugal and India have always played a unique role in bringing the two continents together, both in the distant and recent past. Portugal hosted the first ever EU-India Summit in Lisbon, during the 2000 Portuguese EU Presidency and India hosted the eighth EU-India Summit in New Delhi, in 2007, also during a Portuguese Presidency.


The Indian Nobel laureate in Literature Rabindranath Tagore, who was born 160 years ago on May 9, travelled extensively in Europe in different periods of his life. The great poet was a staunch believer in the principles of mutual understanding between peoples and in India’s mission to bring together the East and the West. He wrote frequently about the meeting of Europe and India, to which he attributed deep cultural, political and even personal significance: “I have felt the meeting of the East and the West in my own individual life.”

In a similar way, the epic poem that better represents Portuguese identity narrates a journey to India. “The Lusiads” by Luis Vaz de Camões is also an account of a meeting between Europe and India.


That makes us particularly conscious of the merits of a relationship spanning two continents and linking two vast oceans that has evolved to accompany the huge transformations in our countries and societies. It is important we do not let this moment pass us by.


The journey together between the EU and India will be continued and advanced as of tomorrow in search of new routes of political, economic and technological cooperation, with enormous potential for mutual benefits.
 

RISING SUN

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Telephone conversation between Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Italy H.E. Mr. Mario Draghi​

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi spoke on telephone today with the Prime Minister of Italy H.E. Mr. Mario Draghi.

The leaders discussed the recent developments in Afghanistan and its implications for the region and the world.

They strongly condemned the horrific terror attack at the Kabul International Airport yesterday, and emphasised the need to ensure the safe repatriation of stranded people.

They stressed upon the need for international cooperation, including at the level of the G20, in addressing the humanitarian crisis and long term security concerns arising out of the developments in Afghanistan.

The two leaders also discussed other important issues on the G20 agenda, such as Climate Change. In this context, they exchanged views on other forthcoming multilateral engagements too, such as COP-26.

Prime Minister appreciated Italy's dynamic leadership in productively steering discussions within the G20.

The two leaders agreed to remain in touch on bilateral and global issues, especially on the situation in Afghanistan.
 
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