Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, participated in the 13th Summit EU India which took place yesterday in Brussels.
The leaders reconfirmed their commitment to give new momentum to the bilateral relationship endorsing the EU-India Agenda for Action 2020 as a common roadmap to jointly guide and strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership in the next five years.
The agenda further builds on the shared objectives and outcomes of the Joint Action Plans of 2005 and 2008. It encompasses a wide range of areas for cooperation such as foreign and security policy, trade and investment, economy, global issues as well as people to people contacts.
The EU HRVP Federica Mogherini and the Minister of Commerce and Industry of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, also attended.
A stronger EU-India Strategic Partnership
The EU and India reconfirmed their commitment to give new momentum to the bilateral relationship endorsing the EU-India Agenda for Action 2020 as a common roadmap to jointly guide and strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership in the next five years. The agenda further builds on the shared objectives and outcomes of the Joint Action Plans of 2005 and 2008. It encompasses a wide range of areas for cooperation such as foreign and security policy, trade and investment, economy, global issues as well as people to people contacts.
The leaders strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Brussels on 22 March 2016 as an unacceptable affront to our open democratic societies and extended their deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims. The EU and India confirmed their commitment to remain united and firm in the fight against hatred, violent extremism and terrorism by adopting a joint declaration on Counter Terrorism. It aims to step up the EU-India cooperation to counter extremism and radicalisation, stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and curb sources of terrorist financing and arms supply.
Growth and jobs through fostering trade and economic cooperation
The EU’s Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change and India’s “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” – (“Collective Efforts, Inclusive Growth”) initiatives create new opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation between people and businesses on both sides. The leaders welcomed that both sides have re-engaged in discussions on how to further the EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) negotiations. The EU is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for 13% of India’s overall trade (in 2015 the total value of EU-India trade in goods reached €77.5 billion) and also first foreign investor. The EU welcomed India’s readiness to establish a mechanism to facilitate investments of all EU Member States in India.
The leaders welcomed the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) commitment to support long-term investment in infrastructure crucial for environmentally sustainable, social and economic development in India, and in particular the EIB’s loan of €450 million in the construction of the first metro line in the city of Lucknow. The EIB and the Government of India signed a first tranche of €200 million. The leaders also welcomed the announcement by the EIB of the upcoming establishment in New Delhi of the Bank's regional representation for South Asia.
The EU and India decided to step up their cooperation to fight climate change, to address environmental challenges and work together towards sustainable development enhancing cooperation on environment issues. The ‘Joint Declaration by the European Union and the Republic of India on Indo-European Water Partnership’ adopted at the Summit foresees strengthening technological, scientific and management capabilities in the field of water management and supports the Indian 'Clean Ganga' and 'Clean India' flagship projects. The EU and India have also agreed to intensify their cooperation on research and innovation particularly addressing current global challenges including Health.
The leaders also encouraged increasing links between the ‘Digital India’ initiative and the EU’s ‘Digital Single Market’ through enhanced cooperation in cyber security, ICT standardisation, Internet Governance, research and innovation.
India boasts one of the youngest populations in the world, and is expected to reach 460 million Internet users, with 370 million connected through mobile devices by mid-2016. India is the fastest growing startup nation in the world. India therefore represents a massive market opportunity. Europe, with its proximity, and long-standing relations is a natural partner with India. However, European participation is rather limited in the Indian startup ecosystem, even though European corporates are active in India for a long period of time, and EU is India’s biggest trading partner.
Europe, on the other hand, is a significant player in the startup, technology and innovation space and a big market. Europe’s global technology successes in the last decade and European startups are briskly disrupting financial services, gaming, security, education, technology, artificial intelligence and more. European corporates have a long-standing presence in the Indian market. Europe has built several hubs, which are making waves and are emerging strong with cities such as London, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, and Amsterdam at the forefront, and with many more up and coming. This strong position has however not transitioned to Indian tech ecosystem’s focus to leverage Europe.
Advancing Foreign Policy, Human Rights and Security Cooperation
Both sides expressed their commitment to step up foreign policy and security cooperation. They discussed the latest developments in the EU's and India's respective neighbourhoods. In particular, the EU and India support the on-going efforts towards an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of peace and reconciliation, leading to an environment free of violence and terror. In this context they looked forward to the Brussels Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan on 5 October 2016 with a view to renew a framework for international partnership and cooperation until 2020. They expressed their support to enhanced and broad-based regional cooperation in South Asia.
Juncker, Tusk and Modi expressed deep concern about the situation in the Middle East hoping that intra-Syrian talks, under the UN auspices, will ensure a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition, bringing an end to the violence in Syria and strongly supported a diplomatic solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine through the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all parties in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015).
The Summit was an opportunity to discuss human rights issues, the ongoing international arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in regard to the case of two Italian marines, as well as the case of fourteen Estonian and six UK Guards sentenced to prison by an Indian court.
Global prosperity for coming generations and enhancing citizens’ involvement in the Strategic Partnership
The establishment of a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM) between the EU and India reflects the importance of India as a strategic partner for the EU in the field of migration and mobility.
The Leaders reaffirmed the G20’s key role in achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth to the benefit of citizens and recognised the importance of implementing the comprehensive agenda adopted at the G-20 Summit of November 2015.
It was also agreeded to start a dialogue on swift implementation of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development and of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
The EU and India highlighted the importance of contacts between their citizens. The two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in the field of cultural heritage (including its digitisation) as well as educational cooperation under the EU’s academic, youth and researcher’s mobility programmes Erasmus+ and Marie Skłodowska-Curie. They welcomed the close interaction between the European and the Indian Parliaments and looked forward to the establishment of an EU Friendship Group by the Lok Sabha. They further recognized the importance of exchanges between EU and Indian civil society organisations, think tanks and local authorities and encouraged them to meet regularly.