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Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel, following the EU-India Summit videoconference

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op woensdag 15 juli 2020.

Thank you.

Indeed, today our main message has been that the European Union stands by India as friends and partners. And I want to focus on the other topics.

Indeed, of course, our joint focus continues to be on slowing the spread of the virus worldwide and saving lives, but we have also discussed the necessary steps to modernise the global economy.

And there, of course, climate action and the green transition must be at the heart of our economic recovery, both in the European Union and in India as well. You know that the European Union has committed to its European Green Deal. However, we are completely aware of the fact that at the global level we will not make a difference unless we work with partners like India.

Therefore, we explained our objective to reach climate neutrality by 2050; to modernise our industries; to rethink our energy mix - India is very strong on solar energy for example; to engage in a circular economy and to ensure that the transition is just and fair for all our citizens. We emphasised the fact that our global economic recovery provides us with a huge opportunity to invest now in modern, in clean and in healthy economies, allowing us to reach long-term climate goals.

We raised with Prime Minister Modi, of course, the fact that this means making tough choices, such as phasing out of coal, but it is a unique opportunity now to step forward. So very good is that we agreed that we will be able to convene a specific Climate Change Dialogue - this is a nice deliverable of this Summit - to discuss in this Climate Change Dialogue how to strengthen our cooperation in the area of solar power, in the area of offshore wind energy, resource-efficiency and, of course, the circular economy.

Another topic was the digital transformation. India is a natural partner for the European Union in this respect. We share a human-centric approach. This means using secure digital technologies to improve the quality of life of citizens, but at the same time respecting privacy and individual freedoms.

Our cooperation with India in this area is already flourishing, but there is still a huge potential for stronger cooperation. So I confirmed to Prime Minister Modi our willingness to share our experience in data protection legislation. We think that a convergence of standards will greatly facilitate the data flows between us. Likewise, we are looking forward to engaging with India on the deployment of trustworthy Artificial Intelligence.

India has hundreds of thousands of highly qualified graduates in the digital and the computing sectors every year. And if we can bring together our complementary resources and the opportunities, we can achieve much more.

The same goes for developing common global standards when it comes to secure 5G deployment, or our joint work on high performance computers. All these have been topics we have been discussing during the Summit.

And a third point I want to focus on is trade and investment. Of course, as with all global supply chains, avoiding market access barriers and ensuring fair and transparent competition remains essential, we raised that topic too. I have proposed to the Prime Minister that we engage in a high-level EU-India digital investment forum in which our businesses leaders can discuss concrete opportunities for cooperation and issues of concern.

And today indeed has given us an important opportunity to address the untapped potential of our trade relationship, as Charles just mentioned. The European Union and India are two of the largest economies and markets in the world. About 6,000 European companies are present in India.

The European Union is India's largest trading partner, and is the largest investor in India. Yet, our overall trade and investment relationship has by no means reached its full potential. And therefore, it is very positive that today, we have established a High Level Trade and Investment Dialogue. So on the level of the Minister and the respective Commissioner here at the European Union's level, it will address multilateral issues and it will look to advance towards both an investment protection and trade agreements. We want an ambitious trade agreement, we are not there yet, but with this High Level Trade and Investment Dialogue, we hope to advance things and to promote our common interest in moving forward towards a free trade agreement. It needs to include our usual requirements in terms of market access and public procurement, and of course sustainable development. So there is still a way to go.

Let me conclude by stressing indeed that the European Union and India are the world's largest democracies. And we must work even more closely to promote and protect our shared interests, based on effective multilateralism, based on the rule of law, and human rights.

And in this context, we welcomed India's recent election as a non-permanent Member of the UN Security Council and as chair of the G20 in 2022.


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