India, EU sign civil nuclear cooperation agreement on eve of Summit
India and the European Union (EU) on Tuesday signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement on the eve of a virtual summit, while Europol and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are negotiating a working arrangement to combat organised crime and terrorism.
The agreement between the European Atomic Energy Community or Euratom and Indian authorities will focus on cooperation between EU’s research programmes on new ways of using nuclear energy and similar activities on the Indian side, EU officials said during a briefing for journalists.
“The agreement is on research and development cooperation for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which was negotiated for 13 years and finally can be cemented by the summit,” said one of the EU officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The India-EU Summit, to be co-chaired on Wednesday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, is expected to focus on strengthening multilateralism and global institutions in the face of the rise of an increasingly assertive China.
The leadership of both sides are expected to reiterate their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all forms during the summit, the EU officials said. The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation or Europol and CBI are negotiating a working arrangement that will support law enforcement authorities of EU member states and India to prevent and combat organised crime and terror, they said.
Asked specifically about the India-China border standoff, the EU officials described the recent incidents on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as a matter of considerable concern.
“We are pleased to see that since these very deadly clashes took place on the LAC, both sides have committed to show restraint, to engage in military de-escalation and to engage in dialogue,” one of the officials said.
Reports showed there has been a withdrawal of troops by both sides in key areas, and diplomatic and military efforts are having a “de-escalatory effect and we trust that both sides will continue dialogue to find a peaceful solution to their differences”, the official added.
However, the EU officials said two sides are “quite far apart” on the issue of a Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), negotiations for which were suspended in 2017. They were also critical of what they described as “protectionist” measures adopted by India and the termination of bilateral investment treaties with 25 EU member states.
The trade relationship was far below the potential, with India accounting for less than 3% of EU’s total trade, they said. They added EU wants an ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement that brings in strong rules, removes barriers to trade in goods and services and investments and opens up human markets.
“India maintains a quite protectionist stance when it comes to negotiations on tariffs and on opening up its services sector, it goes backward in many areas, [such as] reducing access to the Indian procurement market for European companies,” one of the EU officials said. “At the moment, we are quite far apart in agreeing on joint operations we want to see in such an exercise.”
EU is looking forward to the launch of a high-level trade dialogue between the EU trade commissioner and India’s comer minister to address these issues, they said.
Besides the trade dialogue and a cooperation roadmap for the period till 2025, other deliverables expected from the summit are a joint declaration on circular economy and resource efficiency, the renewal of a science and technology cooperation agreement, the launch of a new maritime security dialogue, and the development of security and defence consultations and military contacts, the officials said.