European Union (EU) President Ursula Von der Leyen is set to give a push to the ongoing India-EU free trade agreement (FTA) talks and discuss initiatives in the areas of connectivity, energy and digital transition, climate change, security and defence in her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is also likely to feature prominently in the EU chief’s agenda during her two-day visit to India beginning April 24, a source tracking the matter told BusinessLine. Von Der Leyen will also meet President Ram Nath Kovind and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar.
She will also join the inaugural session of the Raisina Dialogue on Monday as the chief guest. The Dialogue, to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister, is the country’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics, organised by the Ministry of External Affairs in collaboration with the Observer Research Foundation.
The EU President will also deliver an address at the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and hold discussions with Indian and EU companies about the security of supply chains in the energy sector.
“While Johnson and Modi talked about a year-end deadline for the India-UK FTA, it will be interesting to see if similar deadlines are announced during the EU chief’s visit. The negotiations with the EU are likely to be more complicated as the interests of all 27 member states need to be accommodated,” the source said.
The EU is one of India’s largest trading partners with bilateral trade in goods and services in 2020 amounting to €96 billion, as per figures shared by the EU. The EU is also one of the largest investors in India accounting for 16 per cent of total investments received between 2015-20. The EU investments in 2000-2021 amounted to €83 billion.
According to EU estimates, there are 4,500 European companies operating in India, contributing to the creation of over 1.5 million direct and 5 million indirect jobs in the country.
In the FTA being negotiated, the EU hopes to get major market access in areas such as automobiles, wines and spirits and financial and legal services while India wants lower import duties for labour-intensive goods like textile and leather and easier access to more work visas.
“While both sides are aware of the major demands, what still needs to be ascertained is whether the agreement on investment protection will be tied to the FTA in goods and services. The EU wants both to be separate while India wants them to be connected,” the source said.
Von der Leyen is also scheduled to visit The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) campus where she will hold discussions on how to meet the challenge of climate change and the need to work together for a green, digital and resilient future.