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EU-India Summit Takes Place

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

03 December 2007

Last week saw the 8th EU-India Summit take place, confirming the strengthening of EU-India relations, and featuring discussions on issues such as trade, energy, climate change, and WTO talks.

Additional talks were held on regional issues such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Africa, the Middle East, and Pakistan.

Announcing that the EC will be providing EUR7 million for the creation of a European Business and Technology Centre (EBTC) in New Delhi to foster links between the business and scientific communities from both sides, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and José Socrates, Prime Minister of Portugal and currently holding the EU Presidency, met with Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and Trade Minister, Kamal Nath.

Speaking on the eve of the Summit, President Barroso explained that:

“The EU continues to be India’s foremost trading partner and biggest foreign investor. We want EU-India trade to reach its potential. And the conclusion of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement will certainly boost bilateral trade. Our political dialogue now ranges from energy and environment to transport and employment, and we expect significant progress in fields such as civil aviation, maritime transport and renewable energy. By joining efforts, the EU and India, the world's two largest democracies, can have a great impact in addressing global challenges such as peace and security, governance and climate change.”

Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, added: “India has enormous potential as a global player as well as an important partner in the region. Recognising India´s economic transition, we can now focus our development cooperation programmes providing support for its efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals. For this two-fold approach we have earmarked EUR470 million for new cooperation projects from 2007 to 2013.”

Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, who also participated in the Summit, stated that:

“The EU and India have made good progress so far in our FTA negotiations. It is still early days though, and we need to use the momentum we have to put initial offers on the table that show a high level of ambition, and allow us to move forward credibly and constructively."

Hopes are high on both sides that Free Trade Agreement negotiations can be concluded by the end of next year.

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