PM Modi to attend long-stuck India-EU talks in Brussels

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New Delhi | Published: March 12, 2016 1:16:27 AM

After a gap of four years, India-EU summit will be taking place in Brussels later this month. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the summit...

After a gap of four years, India-EU summit will be taking place in Brussels later this month. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the summit in which Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks will top the agenda.

Negotiations on the FTA began in 2007, but the two sides have missed at least four deadlines to clinch a deal even after 15 rounds of talks. The last round of talks was held in 2013. The two sides had a stock-taking meeting on FTA on January 18 this year.

The ties between India and EU had been strained after the 28-member bloc did not respond to India’s proposal for a brief visit by Modi to Brussels, the EU headquarters, during his trip to France, Germany and Canada in 2015.

However, according to senior officials, top officials of both sides met recently in Brussels to review the stalled negotiations with an aim to assessing where both sides stand and how they could go forward with the proposed pact, officially dubbed as Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement. But in August 2015, India deferred the FTA talks after EU imposed a ban on 700 products clinically tested by GVK Biosciences.

Sources said EU was keen on participating in the government’s flagship programmes, especially Clean Ganga and Water Management, Urban Development, Renewable Energy and Green Technology, Smart City and Digital India Initiative.

Earlier this year, Tomasz Kozlowski, head of an EU delegation to India, had said that during the last five years the European Investment Bank, extended credit lines worth 1 billion euro (R730 crore) at concessional rates to commercial banks and infrastructure companies in climate change, small and medium industry funds, etc.

At the 5th India-EU Summit in 2004, the relationship was upgraded to a “Strategic Partnership” and both countries have a joint working group on counter-terrorism.

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