External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar is setting out on a visit to Sweden and Brussels next week and in his engagements with his counterparts the focus is going to be on Indo-Pacific, ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, energy security as well as trade and security.
On May 13, 2023, the minister will participate in the European Union’s (EU) Indo-Pacific Ministerial forum in Stockholm. This forum will be co-chaired by the EU High representative of the Union for Foreign affairs and security Policy Josep Borrell, and Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobais Billstrom.
Those present will include sixty foreign ministers from the Indo-Pacific region and the EU as well as representatives of Indo-Pacific regional organisations and other partners and the G7 Chair Foreign Minister Hayashi from Japan will be there. China and Taiwan will not be there.
There will be three parallel roundtable sessions with around 20 participants each and the topic will be: Facing jointly the evolving security landscape in the Indo-Pacific; Building more sustainable and inclusive prosperity together; and Pursuing green opportunities and overcoming global challenges in cooperation.
China’s growing aggression in the Indo-Pacific Region has been highlighted by several EU members as a major issue of concern.
In 2022 the first Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum took place in Paris, under the French presidency in February. This was attended by thirty foreign ministers including from South Korea and Japan. The focus of the first forum meeting was Europe’s approach to the Indo-Pacific Region.
Significance of this meeting
India is holding the residency of G20 and getting ready for the summit in September this year.
It comes ahead of the G7 meeting scheduled for May 21, which will take place in Hiroshima, Japan and this will be followed by the QUAD Leaders Summit in Sydney, Australia at the end of this month.
India EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC)
The minister will later travel to Brussels to participate in ministerial meetings related to the India EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) on May 16. The focus of the TTC will be on trade, green technologies, and digital transformation.
It has been reported last year Prime Minister Narendra Modi and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had agreed to launch the EU-India Trade and Technology and it was decided that the ministerial meetings will take place alternatively in the EU and India and both sides will talk about security, trade, and technology. So far the EU had TTC with the US only and India is the second country. And the establishment of TTC was seen as an important step towards further strengthening the strategic partnership between India and the EU.
Meanwhile in New Delhi…
On May 8, India and EU held their fourth Strategic Partnership Review Meeting on 08 May in New Delhi, where both sides reviewed the entire gamut of their bilateral relations as detailed in the `India-EU Strategic partnership: A Roadmap to 2025’.
Sanjay Verma, Secretary (West) led the Indian side, while the EU side was led by Helena König, Deputy Secretary General for Economic and Global Issues, European External Action Service.
The two sides took stock of the on-going Free Trade Agreement, Investment Protection Agreement and Agreement on Geographical Indications negotiations. And also focussed on a wide range of topics like Data Protection, Mobility, and Digital, Climate, Clean Energy, Biodiversity, Smart Urbanisation, Trade, Research & Innovation, Education, Circular Economy, and Resource efficiency.