The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU would like to be “remembered as the one that rebalanced relations with Asia”, according to the Portuguese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, recalling that India is “a key player” that was not being given “enough attention”.
Just a few days after relaunching negotiations on trade and investment agreements between the European Union and India, decided at the meeting in Porto that brought together the 27 Member States, the leaders of the European institutions and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, via video conference, Augusto Santos Silva said that “we weren't paying enough attention to a key player”, explaining that this was why Portugal made a point of focusing on this country in the Indo-Pacific, a region that “sorely needed” reinforced relations with the EU.
Speaking at a conference on Europe as a global player, Santos Silva stressed that the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU must “at least try to broaden the European perspective, not focusing only on the traditional Atlantic partnerships but rather on more strategic areas”.
The Minister, taking part by video conference, listed three goals of this focus on the Indo-Pacific region: one, geopolitical, aiming to establish more regular and intensive political dialogue between the two largest democracies in the world; two, focusing on a partnership for connectivity (mobility and infrastructure, transport and communication networks); and three, the resumption of EU-India economic negotiations, stalled since 2013.
In addition, the representative of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU also highlighted the fact that the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (Brexit) from the European Union “has given a new responsibility to Portugal, which also has historical and contemporary ties with India”.