THE European Union (EU) and India agreed on Monday (25) to set up a trade and technology council (TTC) to step up cooperation, as the bloc’s chief held talks with officials in New Delhi.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen concluded a two-day trip to India’s capital, part of Western efforts to encourage New Delhi to reduce ties to Russia, its main weapons supplier, following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. India has refrained from explicitly condemning Russia’s invasion, while calling for an immediate end to violence. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation”.
The United States is the only other country that has a technical agreement with the EU similar to the one signed on Monday with India. “I think this relationship today is more important than ever,” von der Leyen said in her opening remarks during a meeting with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. “We have a lot in common, but we are also facing a challenging political landscape.”
She identified cooperation on security, climate change and trade as the main areas of focus. “Both sides agreed that rapid changes in the geopolitical environment highlight the need for joint in-depth strategic engagement,” an EU-India joint statement said. “The Trade and Technology Council will provide the political steer and the necessary structure to operationalise political decisions, coordinate technical work, and report to the political level to ensure implementation and follow-up in areas that are important for the sustainable progress of European and Indian economies.”
People familiar with the development said the TTC will facilitate cooperation in high-tech areas like 5G, quantum computing, climate modelling and healthcare solutions, among others.
Modi invited the EU’s increased participation in the green energy sector in India with a focus on green hydrogen.
India’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, said on Twitter that both sides “reviewed progress… & agreed to deepen cooperation in areas of trade, climate, digital technology and people-to-people ties”.
India’s foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said after meeting Von der Leyen that they “exchanged views on the economic and political implications of the Ukraine conflict.”