The European Union and India agreed to resume stalled free-trade negotiations and seek closer cooperation to combat climate change at a virtual summit on Saturday, as concerns about China bring Brussels and New Delhi closer. read more
Partly overshadowed by the COVID-19 crisis in India, the meeting brought together Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all of the bloc’s 27 leaders for the first time in a sign of the EU’s renewed interest in the Indo-Pacific region.
Past EU-India summits have involved only the Indian prime minister and the EU’s chief executive and chairman.
“We agreed to resume negotiations for a … trade agreement which would respond to the current challenges,” EU and Indian leaders said in a statement after the talks, adding that for talks to succeed, both sides had to solve market access issues.
In parallel, EU and India will start talks on a separate investment protection deal and an accord on geographical indications – famous brand names often linked to the places they are made, from France’s champagne to India’s Darjeeling tea.
China’s rise from a benign trading partner to a rival power with a growing military presence has alarmed the West and its allies in the Indo-Pacific, where Brussels wants more influence.
“We agreed that, as the world’s two largest democracies, the EU and India have a common interest in ensuring security, prosperity and sustainable development in a multi-polar world,” the joint statement said.
EU-India trade talks were frozen in 2013 over differences including tariff reductions, patent protection, data security and the right of Indian professionals to work in Europe.