While von der Leyen will focus on Russia’s threats to Europe in the context of the Ukraine conflict, India will seek broader EU engagement to make the Indo-Pacific an inclusive region, learned ET. New Delhi seeks to expand the EU’s footprint in the Indo-Pacific region.
On Sunday, von der Leyen made it clear that the EU’s strained ties with Russia and its attempts to reduce energy dependence will be among his talking points on Monday. Addressing a meeting on the International Solar Alliance here, von der Leyen said “Russia’s war on Ukraine is a stark reminder for us Europeans to reduce reliance on Russian fossil fuels.”
India has differences with the West over its approach to the crisis and has repeatedly emphasized dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the conflict. India has neither condemned Russia’s “special military operations” in Ukraine nor supported Western-backed UN resolutions against Russia. The Modi government has also publicly deferred with the United States and Europe being called out for its limited oil purchases from Russia as Europe continues to import daily volumes of energy from Moscow. .
However, India and the EU have more in common on China’s aggression and the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative in Europe. Since the 2020 pandemic, Europe has sought to balance China’s inroads into the continent, with many countries taking a cautious approach to Beijing. It is in this context that the EU launched its Indo-Pacific Strategy and sought to collaborate with India, including in the connectivity sector and by proposing alternatives.
The fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, energy and digital transition, connectivity, security and defence, cooperation in the Indo-Pacific will be at the center of von der Leyen’s conversation in Delhi, said an official at ET, adding that the visit will be an opportunity to build momentum for last year’s India-EU summit which was held virtually and which focused on connectivity initiatives and the region Indo-Pacific, among other issues.
She began her India tour on Sunday with lectures on energy issues and a visit to the Institute of Energy and Resources in New Delhi, where she met young climate activists.
India’s broad economic agenda with the EU, centered on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the Investment Protection Agreement and the Geographical Indications Agreement, will also be on the agenda. day. India and the EU hope to revive FTA negotiations amid India’s renewed interest in FTAs.
The visit coincides with the celebration of 60 years of relations between India and the European Union. This will be von der Leyen’s first visit to India after taking over the office of the European Commission. von der Leyen will be the guest of honor at this year’s inaugural session of India’s first foreign policy dialogue – Raisina Dialogue –– organized by MEA and the Observer Research Foundation. Narendra Modi will also be present on the occasion. It will highlight the vast potential of the EU-India strategic partnership and offer the EU’s perspective on current geopolitical challenges.
Over the last decade, trade in goods between the EU and India has increased by 41% and trade in services by 76%. In 2020, trade in goods and services between the EU and India amounted to €96 billion. The EU is one of the largest investors in India, accounting for 16% of total investments received between 2015 and 2020 (83 billion euros in 2000-2021). 4,500 European companies operate in India, contributing to the creation of more than 1.5 million direct jobs and 5 million indirect jobs in the country. Last year’s Leaders’ meeting gave new impetus to EU-India relations, particularly in trade and investment.