Sunday, November 8, 2009

India-European Union Summit

The 10th one-day India-European Union (EU) Summit was held in New Delhi on 6 November 2009. At the conclusion of the summit, India and the EU have signed a major accord for cooperation in the civil atomic energy field and pledged to conclude an ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between them within a year. The agreement was signed by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman Anil Kakodkar and European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
Boosting Trade Ties
The agreement is aimed at facilitating India’s participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project for fusion research. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the Indian side at the summit while the EU was represented by Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, in his capacity as chairman of the EU Council and EU President Jose Manuel Barroso.
The ITER project on fusion energy is said to be the costliest experiment of its kind that will cost some 10 billion euros. The first fusion reactor is expected to be operational in Cadarche in southern France by 2016.
India and the EU have been negotiating an FTA since 2007 but have not been able to firm up the accord due to differences over the EU’s attempts to link trade with climate and other extraneous issues. Both sides are of the view that a political push was need for the agreement to be wrapped up by next year. With trade talks not making much headway due to the EU’s insistence on labour standards although both sides hoped to clinch it within a year, the Indian Prime Minister pressed for a freer visa regime and identified the easier movement of people as one of the prime areas of cooperation.
Joint Statement
Meanwhile, in a joint statement, the two sides shared the understanding that the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should take place in conformity with the highest standards of safety, security and non-proliferation. The two sides also signed a pact to promote joint research in nuclear fusion.
The joint statement said India and the EU welcomed the renewed momentum in global disarmament talks while reaffirming their shared interest in working together for disarmament and for countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. In this context, they stressed the importance of strengthening national export control laws.
Eliminating Terrorism
On terrorism, the EU condemned the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 and reiterated the need for intensifying global cooperation in combating international terrorism. Without any reference to Pakistan, the two sides emphasised the utmost importance of bringing the perpetrators of the crime to justice. The EU and its member stated extended full cooperation to India’s bid for membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which will further reinforce India’s commitment to combat terrorist financing and money laundering.
EU and India resolved to expedite work on greater information-sharing on issues relating to terrorism and introduce closer coordination between the Europol and Indian security agencies.
Toward Global Financial Crisis
On international financial crisis and global economy, the two sides reiterated their commitment to continue to sustain a strong policy response until the recovery was secured, to prepare internationally coordinated and cooperative exit strategies to be implemented once the recovery has taken hold, to strengthen and reform financial regulatory and supervisory systems to ensure global financial stability and prevent further crises, and to ensure that the international financial institutions reflect contemporary economic realities.

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