What will be the main conclusions of the summit of the leaders of India and Europe on Saturday? Will there be some political impetus for the resumption of negotiations between India and the EU on the FTA? Will the EU be comfortable with an investment agreement with India without a trade agreement?
At the last summit, our leaders decided to further strengthen and expand our cooperation and work together to defend multilateralism, fight climate change, green our economies, secure our digital future, strengthen communication and cooperate on political and security issues. … I believe that the upcoming Leadership Meeting will mark further progress in all of these areas. For example, the EU and India are currently preparing a joint communications partnership. Combating climate change will be another major priority for discussion in the run-up to COP 26 (the UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change). Green and digital transition are two priorities for both the EU and India.
In conjunction with the leaders’ meeting, Executive Vice President (Valdis) Dombrovskis and Minister (Piyush) Goyal discussed several times how to improve trade and investment relations between the EU and India through a forward-looking agenda that includes addressing market access. questions. Negotiations on the development of such an agenda are ongoing. We will look at the prospects for ambitious, balanced and comprehensive trade and investment agreements, as well as an agenda for addressing market access and deeper cooperation in areas such as regulatory cooperation, secure and sustainable value chains and WTO reform. Recent discussions have been helpful in clarifying issues. Based on this, both sides hope to secure a broad package of trade and investment results by the leaders’ meeting.
Are the EU and India in talks on 5G, artificial intelligence, etc.? If so, could you give us an idea of what kind of discussions took place?
As open societies and democracies, the EU and India can work together to ensure a global digital transition in a secure environment that promotes fair competition and with full respect for individual rights and freedoms. For example, when it comes to data protection, the EU GDPR is often referred to as a relevant use case. We have established a productive dialogue to facilitate possible regulatory convergence, as free data flow is in the interest of both parties. We are also going to create a joint working group on artificial intelligence (AI); we advocate a similar vision for a robust, human-centered approach to AI. Cybersecurity is another common concern, including when it comes to 5G deployments. The EU has developed a “toolbox” that defines an objective process for mitigating risks and vulnerabilities, providing guidance on criteria that vendors must meet to protect vulnerable network assets. The EU and India regularly exchange views in this area.
The EU very quickly offered and mobilized support for India during the covid – some of which have already arrived. Is there more help expected?
The EU and its 27 member states are trying to support India in this difficult moment together as a “team of Europe”, just as India has offered its support to the rest of the world in the past few months. We discussed with the Indian authorities how we could best help. Following this conversation, we have activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which can coordinate the response of member states, bringing together expertise, capabilities and transport.
We have received very substantial proposals from many member countries, and as we speak, the number is growing. Over the past few days, important shipments have arrived in India from Romania, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, France and Italy, delivering oxygen plants, basic equipment and antiviral drugs. Many more flights are coming soon, and several other Member States are joining this collective effort.
The first ATV Summit (in March) decided to ramp up vaccine capacity in India so that COVID-19 vaccines can be produced to fight the pandemic around the world. Is the EU planning to do something similar – perhaps not necessarily in India, but in a similar venture? With India now focusing on its domestic vaccine needs, is the EU looking to increase production and exports to meet commitments on COVAX, Africa, etc.?
We are working closely with Indian authorities to meet these requirements. Today, the focus is on oxygen equipment and antiviral drugs. In terms of vaccines, the European Union and its Member States have been among the pioneers in the creation of COVAX, a global initiative to fund vaccines for low- and middle-income countries. Team Europe is one of its leading donors, with over 2.4 billion euros in funding. India’s role in COVAX is also central as a global vaccine manufacturer. Over the past few months, India has become a leader in providing vaccines to a huge number of countries. The EU’s approach, like India’s, is based on solidarity and transparency while meeting domestic needs. Between January and April, over 110 million doses of vaccines were exported from the EU to over 40 countries. From the very beginning, the EU has chosen the path of global cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.
The EU recently launched its Indo-Pacific Strategy. Could you give us the key points in this? How does the EU view China as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy – as a partner to attract, or as a competitor?
In many ways, the path of the future world will be paved in the Indo-Pacific in terms of innovation, economic growth, and when it comes to tackling climate change or digital transformation. The recently adopted conclusions of the EU Council show very clearly that the EU considers itself to be the main stakeholder in this region and wants to work with like-minded partners, in particular with India.
The aim of the future EU strategy for the Indo-Pacific is to promote regional stability, prosperity and sustainable development. The EU decided to strengthen its strategic focus in the Indo-Pacific region, building on the promotion of democracy, rule of law, human rights and international law, including UNCLOS – the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. These are the principles and goals that we share with India. We will further develop this convergence and work with India to promote a rules-based world order.
We have a multifaceted relationship with China, which is at the same time a negotiating partner on issues such as climate change, a competitor and systemic rival. The EU’s Indo-Pacific Cooperation Strategy follows this approach presented in the EU’s 2019 Strategic Review for China. We need to work with China on many pressing issues. However, we must act clearly, adhering to our values.
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