The European Commission said on Thursday (18 February) that it wants to “explore options” for expanding the EU’s trade and investment with India, notably ahead of the summit scheduled for May in Porto as part of Portugal’s presidency of the Council of the EU.
“We recently had a high-level economic dialogue between the EU and India and we are also exploring options on what can be done in the area of trade, keeping in mind the EU-India Summit, which will take place in May,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, commission executive vice-president responsible for trade.
Speaking at a news conference after the presentation of the EU’s new trade policy, he stressed that the work with India “will continue”.
Earlier this month, Dombrovskis took part by videoconference in the first EU-India High-Level Dialogue on Trade and Investment – one of the first opportunities to discuss trade and investment relations between the two powers, but also to discuss issues such as market access and possible cooperation on reforming the World Trade Organisation.
At the end of the high-level meeting with India’s minister of commerce and industry, Piyush Goyal, Dombrovskis said he expected this to be a “great year” for relations between the EU and India, and that he hoped for progress in the fields of trade and investment, particularly during Portugal’s six-month presidency.
One of Portugal’s priorities for its EU presidency is the diversification of relations with Indo-Pacific partners, particularly India.
Lisbon plans to organise on 8 May in Porto an informal summit bringing together the heads of state and governments of the 27 EU countries and India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi.
A partnership with India is also mentioned in the new trade strategy presented on Thursday by the Commission.
The document states that the EU should intensify work to develop alliances in support of effective multilateral institutions, namely with African countries and India.
Portugal’s Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva recently told EURACTIV in an interview that a closer EU relationship with India would counterbalance the bloc’s relations with China.
“This is our aim, we don’t hide it, and it is why we proposed a high-level meeting with India following the high-level meeting with China,” Santos Silva said.
“If you talk with China, and you have to talk with China as the second economy of the world and the world’s most populated country, you have also to talk with India,” Santos Silva added.
[Edited by Frédéric Simon]