EU boasts India ties amid diplomatic tension with China
The European Union on Wednesday vowed to “reinforce strategic goals” with India, casting New Delhi as an “indispensable partner” amid increasingly difficult ties with China.
Speaking after a virtual summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Council President Charles Michel called on India and China to peacefully resolve the border dispute that recently claimed Indian lives.
The warmth EU leaders bestowed on India, which it stressed as a like-minded democracy, is cast against what it calls a systemic rival in China, with the situation in Hong Kong prompting Europe to consider a “revision” in its approach to China.
New Delhi and Brussels also came up with a joint statement after the summit – a contrast to the inability of Beijing and Brussels to come to terms with one after the meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang last month.
“The EU and India are more than economic partners – we are political partners,” Michel told reporters after the summit. “India can count on the European Union, and we count on India to be a key partner.”
On the border conflicts, Modi “had the occasion to inform us about the latest developments regarding this incident with China. We support all the efforts to maintain a channel of dialogue in order to find peaceful solutions,” Michel said.
The EU and India will further develop security and defence consultations and military contact, including maritime security in the Indian Ocean. “We will step up our cooperation to fight terrorism and cyber threats,” he added.
Asked whether India is more strategic to the EU than China is, Michel cast light on the shared values between Europe and India.
“India and the European Union are two democracies with traditions and respecting human rights and the international rule of law. So we do have the potential to make further strides forward when it comes to the economy, the environment or digital issues,” he said.
“When it comes to the political side of things, India is a partner because we share the same vision of globalisation, inspired by democratic standards, principles of freedom and liberty and inclusivity,” he added.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said this week that the “draconian” national security law Beijing imposed on Hong Kong “would require revision of our approach and will clearly have an impact on our relations”.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said that India is a partner for the EU’s role of “defending our values”.
The two sides discussed climate change and digital transformation, she said.
“We share a human-centric approach. That means using secure digital technologies to improve the quality of life of citizens, but at the same time respecting privacy and individual freedoms,” von der Leyen added.