‘India-EU summit will give new momentum to ties’

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Brussels, March 29 (IANS) The India-EU summit in Brussels on Wednesday would give “new momentum” to the strategic partnership, senior EU officials said here ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Belgium capital where he will attend the long-awaited summit.

Briefing journalists on the agenda of the 13th India-European Union summit, the official who spoke on condition of anonymity, noted that India is one of the EU’s 10 strategic partners.

“It will be an opportunity to re-launch EU-India relations and make progress on concrete areas such as trade and investment, foreign and security policy, climate, energy, water and migration,” he stressed.

The EU and India are expected to adopt a renewed joint declaration on Counter Terrorism. The two parties will pledge to step up their cooperation to counter extremism and radicalisation, stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and curb sources of terrorist financing and arms supply.

The 28-member European bloc will be represented by Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, and by Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission. India will be represented by Narendra Modi, who will be the first Indian prime minister to visit Brussels in six years.

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EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom are also expected to attend the summit which is taking place after a gap of four years.

At the summit leaders are expected to endorse the EU-India Agenda for Action 2020. This sets out concrete priority actions for the next five years. 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 European Investment Bank and India will sign an agreement on the sidelines of the summit for a loan of 450 million euro for the metro of Lucknow. This will also be an occasion to exchange a joint declaration on a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM), noted the official.

At the summit leaders will be seeking increased cooperation opportunities and benefits for citizens and business between the EU’s Agenda for Jobs and Growth and India’s “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” initiatives (“Collective Efforts, Inclusive Growth”), in particular on energy, environment/water, research and innovation, migration and mobility.

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Leaders will also adopt two joint declarations. One on an Indo-EU Water Partnership, which supports the Indian ‘Clean Ganga’ and ‘Clean India’ flagship projects and creates business and technology opportunities between the EU and India.

The second declaration will be on an Indo-EU Clean Energy and Climate Partnership, which is key to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and will trigger a climate dialogue with India.

The two sides will address the ongoing negotiations for a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) with an aim to instil some political impetus to the stalled talks, but it is not known when the next round of talks will resume.

Political and security cooperation, including human rights, will also be the focus of discussions at the summit.

The latest developments in the EU’s and India’s respective neighbourhoods will also be discussed. In particular, the summit will provide an opportunity to discuss and support the ongoing efforts towards an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and reconciliation.

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In this context leaders are expected to look forward to the Brussels Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan on October 5, 2016. Leaders are also likely to discuss Pakistan, Nepal and China.

The summit will express concern about the situation in the Middle East, and in particular the precarious situation in Syria.

The EU side is expected raise the issue of the two Italian marines in India, who are accused of killing two Indian fishermen.

Modi will also hold talks with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, which are expected to focus on last week’s terror attacks in Brussels in which one Indian also lost his life.

The Indian prime minister is expected to address a diaspora gathering of over 5,000 Indians in Brussels late evening before ending his one-day visit to Belgium.

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