Friday, Dec 15, 2017 | Last Update : 09:27 PM IST
India and EU inked three pacts, including one on international solar alliance.
New Delhi: India and the European Union (EU) held their 14th annual summit in the Capital on Friday. During the summit, Indian and the EU “adopted a Joint Statement on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism”and took note of the “ongoing efforts by both sides to re-engage actively towards timely relaunching negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)”.
There was no major headway towards the much-delayed BTIA or free trade pact between the two sides.
Launched in June 2007, negotiations for the proposed BTIA have witnessed many hurdles due to major differences on crucial issues like intellectual property rights, and duty cut in automobile and spirits.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi headed the Indian side during the Summit, while the EU delegation was headed by president of the European Council Donald Tusk and president of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker.
The two sides also inked three pacts, including one on an international solar alliance, after the summit.
“The Leaders expressed their shared commitment to strengthening the Economic Partnership between India and the EU and noted the ongoing efforts of both sides to re-engage actively towards timely relaunching negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA). Both parties recognised the importance of trade in agricultural products in general, and rice in particular, and agreed to work together to resolve issues that have the potential of disrupting trade,” the Indo-EU Joint Statement said.
Mr. Juncker said, “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.”
On terror, the two sides said, “The leaders strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in many parts of the world, underlining their common concern about the global threat posed by terrorism and extremism.
They adopted a Joint Statement on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism with a view to deepening their strategic and security cooperation, and expressed their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, based on a comprehensive approach. The leaders resolved to step up cooperation through regular bilateral consultations and in international fora. In this context, they welcomed the India-EU Dialogue on Counter-Terrorism on 30 August 2017 in New Delhi, and the joint commitment to explore opportunities to, inter alia, share information, best practices, including regarding countering the on-line threat of radicalisation, and to engage in capacity building activities, such as training and workshops. They also emphasised the need to deepen cooperation within the UN and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).”
Mr. Tusk was quoted as saying, “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.”
In his remarks, PM Modi said, “India values her multi-faceted partnership with the EU, and we attach high importance to our strategic partnership. ... The European Union has been our largest trade partner for a long time. It is also one of our largest sources of Foreign Direct Investment. As the world’s largest democracies, we are natural partners. Our close relations are founded on the shared values of democracy, rule of law, respect for fundamental freedoms and multiculturalism. We also share the vision of a multi-polar, rules-based international order. Since the 13th Summit in Brussels last year, our relationship has steadily gained momentum.”
“On Clean Energy and Climate Change, we are both committed to the 2015 Paris Agreement. Addressing climate change and promoting secure, affordable and sustainable supplies of energy are our shared priorities. We also reaffirmed our commitment to undertake mutual cooperation for reducing the cost of deployment of renewable energy. We will strengthen our cooperation with European Union in developing Smart Cities and upgrading urban infrastructure,” PM Modi also said, adding, “I am pleased that the India-EU Horizontal Civil Aviation Agreement has now been operationalised. I am confident that this will enhance air connectivity between us and help to foster people-to-people contact.”
At the summit, the two sides also held extensive deliberations on bilateral, regional and international issues, including the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, Iranian nuclear programme, North Korea, Syria and Afghanistan.