New Delhi: India and the European Union (EU) will hold their 15th bilateral Summit on July 15 via video conference, it was confirmed on Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will represent India while the EU will be represented by President of the European Council Charles Michel, and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the “Summit will review India-EU cooperation covering political & security relations, trade & investment and economic cooperation” and “is also expected to discuss developments around the Covid-19 pandemic and contemporary global matters of interest to both sides”.
The Summit was to have been originally held in the Belgian Capital Brussels in March this year but was postponed due to the Covid pandemic. It may be recalled that in February this year, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar had travelled to Brussels and had met top EU functionaries as well as certain Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) during which he had strongly defended the Indian position on the Kashmir issue and situation in J&K as well as on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which could both be raised now by the EU during the Summit.
The top EU dignitaries the EAM had met then included Mr. Michel, President of the European Council of Heads of Government of the 27 member states of the EU. The recent Sino-Indian military tensions at the border could also come up during the discussions.
EU sources said the Summit will be an opportunity to strengthen the EU-India Strategic Partnership, based on “shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law, and respect for human rights, aiming at delivering concrete benefits for the people in the EU and India”. EU sources also said bilateral, regional and global issues are expected to be discussed and that “leaders are expected to “discuss (bilateral) cooperation in security, climate, environment, trade and investment, digital economy and connectivity”.
In its statement, the MEA said, “The 15th meeting of the India-European Union Summit will be held in virtual mode on 15 July 2020. The Summit will be co-chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the President of the European Council, H.E. Charles Michel; and the President of the European Commission, H.E. Ursula von der Leyen. The Summit will review India-EU cooperation covering political & security relations, trade & investment and economic cooperation. The Summit is also expected to discuss developments around the Covid-19 pandemic and contemporary global matters of interest to both sides. The 14th India-EU Summit was held on 6 October 2017 in New Delhi.”
EU sources meanwhile also said the leaders would discuss “global cooperation and solidarity to protect lives, to mitigate the socio-economic consequences and to strengthen preparedness and response capacities” in view of the Coronavirus pandemic that also severely affected EU countries including Spain, Italy and France. Leaders will also discuss global and regional issues and are "expected to reiterate their determination to promote effective multilateralism and a rules-based multilateral order, with the United Nations (UN) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its core".