India-EU summit: Key focus on global cooperation, free trade, climate change

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India, EU exchange views on foreign policy, security, COVID-19, climate during India-EU leaders' meeting
India, EU exchange views on foreign policy, security, COVID-19, climate during India-EU leaders' meeting

New Delhi [India], May 9 (ANI): As the India-EU Leaders' Meeting held virtually on Saturday, leaders of both sides discussed and agreed on several issues, such as an inclusive rules-based multilateralism for tackling global challenges, the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, trade and investment, among others.

According to a joint statement, India and the European Union (EU) highlighted that their common interest in ensuring security, prosperity and sustainable development in a multi-polar world and agreed to foster new synergies for jointly contributing to a safer, greener, cleaner, more digital, resilient and stable world.

"...we discussed the need for a reformed, renewed and effective multilateral system, which is fit for this purpose and reflects contemporary realities. India's memberships in the UN Security Council in 2021-2022 and in the UN Human Rights Council in 2019-2021, and its forthcoming G20 Presidency in 2023 are important opportunities to boost further our cooperation in international fora, to defend and strengthen international law, advance the achievement of Paris Agreement goals and Sustainable Development Goals, and support the necessary reforms of multilateral organisations," the statement read.

With regards to trade and investment, the leaders agreed to resume negotiations for a balanced, ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement which would respond to the current challenges.

"We agreed that in order to create the required positive dynamic for negotiations, it is imperative to find solutions to long-standing market access issues. We also agreed to the launch of negotiations on a stand-alone investment protection agreement and to start negotiations on a separate agreement on geographical indications which could be concluded separately or integrated into the trade agreement, depending on the pace of negotiations," the India-EU joint statement read.

They also agreed upon create a joint working group to intensify regulatory cooperation on goods and services and resilient supply chains, while also agreeing to set up an India-EU Senior Officials' Dialogue to deepen bilateral cooperation on World Trade Organization (WTO) issues.

"We encouraged interaction between EU and Indian businesses, such as through the Business Roundtable, and stressed the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility, UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and business and innovation opportunities in achieving the Paris Agreement goals and Sustainable Development Goals," said both sides.

On the Indo-Pacific, the leaders emphasised commitment to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific space, underpinned by respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, democracy, and rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, and peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with international law.

"In this context, we welcomed the development by the EU of its Strategy for cooperation with the Indo-Pacific and agreed to strengthen our cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and in relevant regional fora."

Acknowledging the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, both sides agreed to strengthen global cooperation and solidarity. "We supported universal, safe, equitable and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and treatments, and the strengthening of health systems, and acknowledged the key role of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) in this regard," they said in the statement.

"We committed to work together to better prepare for and respond to global health emergencies. We agreed to cooperate on resilient medical supply chains, vaccines and the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), and on the application of international good manufacturing standards to ensure high quality and safety of products," they added.

India and the EU also committed to urgently address the interdependent challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, and to contribute to the success of the upcoming Biodiversity COP15, Climate COP26 and the 2nd UN Ocean Conference. They also stressed the importance on intensifying cooperation in protecting the marine environment and combating plastic pollution.

The summit also focused on achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, including strengthening climate change mitigation as well as adaptation and resilience to the impacts of climate change, providing means of implementation including finance, and fully implementing them without delay.

They also welcomed the first meeting of the India-EU High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change held on April 28 and agreed to hold the next meeting of the India-EU Energy Panel as early as possible.

"We agreed to scale up our cooperation on water management in the framework of the India-EU Water Partnership, notably to tackle water pollution, in line with the water-related Sustainable Development Goals and underlined the importance to address water challenges in the context of climate change. We will also boost cooperation to address air pollution," the joint statement said.

The EU member states and India decided to continue cooperation on space and transport, pursue digital transformation to create quality jobs and advance cooperation and mobility on research and innovation.

Focusing on a safer, prosperous and more democratic world, both sides underscored the importance of enhanced and structured parliamentary exchanges for fostering greater mutual understanding and appreciation between India and the EU.

"We reaffirmed our commitment to protecting and promoting all human rights, including gender equality and women empowerment in all spheres of life, and the importance we attach to our cooperation. We recognised the importance of strengthening the specific mechanisms for the promotion of human rights and the role of national human rights institutions, civil society actors and journalists," they said in the joint statement.

The virtual summit also laid emphasis on strengthening of India-EU cooperation on international security, including on non-proliferation and disarmament, countering terrorism, radicalisation and violent extremism, maritime security, as well as on cyber and other threats through their regular consultations.

"We reiterated our full cooperation for promoting an open, free, stable and secure cyberspace, and for fostering responsible behaviour of all actors in the cyberspace including through mechanisms under the UN. We strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and underlined that it is crucial that perpetrators of violence and terrorism are brought to justice," they said.

The previous EU-India summit was held on July 15, 2020, via video conference. EU and India leaders had adopted a five-year roadmap for the EU-India Strategic Partnership and a joint declaration on resource efficiency and circular economy. (ANI)

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