New Delhi, Apr 25 (EFE).- European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday during her two-day official visit to India to deepen bilateral trade and security cooperation, and address major geopolitical challenges.
Prior to the meeting, the two leaders announced the creation of the EU-India Trade and Technology Council to “step up cooperation in trade, technology and security” and provide useful tools for monitoring the sustainable progress of the European and Indian economies.
This is the second council of its kind that the European Union (EU) has with any of its allies, after the US, and India’s first with another economy, according to Von der Leyen during her interaction with Modi.
This new institution that will allow the two parties to move towards a joint strategic commitment, necessary at a time of rapid changes in the current geopolitical landscape, she said.
Although the EC president did not directly refer to the war between Russia and Ukraine, her visit comes at a time of a certain suspicion by the West toward India due to its neutral stance, and a recent surge in its oil purchases from Moscow, ignoring international sanctions.
The European leader expressed gratitude for the meeting in the backdrop of current challenges in the political landscape, and underlined that “shared values and common interests” would offer a strong basis to “intensify mutually beneficial and deeper strategic cooperation.”
Before her meeting with Modi, Von der Leyen visited the memorial erected in honor of Indian pacific leader Mahatma Gandhi, and later interacted with Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, with whom he discussed the implications of the conflict in Ukraine.
Before concluding her visit, which marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the EU and India, Von der Leyen is expected to meet with the President Ram Nath Kovind, and also attend the annual multilateral conference Raisina Dialogue 2022 as the chief guest.
The EU is one of the largest investors in India and accounts for 16 percent of the total investments received between 2015 and 2020 (83 billion euros between 2000-2021).
There are 4,500 European companies operating in India, contributing to the creation of more than 1.5 million direct and five million indirect jobs in the country, according to data provided by the Commission.
Over the last decade, goods trade between the EU and India increased by 41 percent and trade in services by 76 percent. EU-India trade in total goods and services in 2020 amounted to 96,000 billion euros. EFE