India and European Union are all set to seal a connectivity agreement at the May 8 virtual summit at Lisbon apart from reviving the negotiations on the stalled trade and investment agreement.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to deepen cooperation at the summit with Charles Michel, President of European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, the connectivity agreement will open a new chapter in relations with both the power blocks slated to create assets in third countries, particularly in the Indo-Pacific.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to the Twitter on Monday to express his gratitude to the European Union for its support to India on its fight against the coronavirus disease.
According to diplomatic sources in EU, the connectivity agreement will link India and EU in transport, energy, digital world and people to people contacts by creating assets and capacities in not only India and EU but also joint investment in third countries. The connectivity agreement will not only based on rules based order but also involve private sector to create assets in the Indo-Pacific region without burdening the third country with debt.
“It is an India-EU answer to China’s Belt Road Initiative as the connectivity partnership will take to account environment and sustainable development and totally transparent processes…..it is akin to India-Japan bidding in Sri Lankan port project,” said an EU diplomat.
The President of the European Union Commission, Ursula von der Leyen later wrote on Twitter, “There is clear momentum to strengthen our strategic relations on trade, digital, climate change & multilateralism. I’m encouraged by the prospect of intensifying our trade & investment relations. This would tap into a huge potential to the benefit of our businesses & citizens.”
The India-EU summit comes at a time when the latter has come up with its Indo-Pacific policy. Although many a experts have questioned that the EU Indo-Pacific policy only names India once, EU diplomats in their briefing have made it clear India is central to their policy along with US and Japan.
“If the yardstick is naming a country, then US has not been named even once. With EU-China comprehensive trade and investment agreement on the back-burner, it is quite clear where the European consortium of nations is looking,” said an ambassador in Europe.