INTERVIEW | Tomasz Kozlowski National

EU, India are natural partners based on values, says EU Ambassador to India

Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador of the European Union to India, during an interview with The Hindu in New Delhi on October 12, 2017.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

The 14th EU-India summit completed in New Delhi last week has given the two sides a much clearer political strategic direction, says the EU Ambassador to India Tomasz Kozlowski, also dismissing comments by the German Ambassador that it was a failure that EU and India leaders didn’t agree on the resumption of the Free Trade Agreement talks

The summit last week saw a declaration that India and the EU are natural partners. How do you see this partnership growing now?

We are really natural partners, based on principles of democracy, human rights, tolerance and internal diversity. Our task is always how to translate these principles into clearly identified common interests. And I think that during the EU-India summit agreed to deepen both strategic relations and to go ahead with these common goals with a long-term view on global and regional challenges, and a rule-based international order. We have common responsibilities to secure peace and stability because of the current uncertainties in the global arena. The EU and India are very stable and predictable partners.

In terms of specifics, do they also see common geopolitical threats, as India in its region sees a country like China as a bigger challenge, while for the EU it is Russia?

The current world is interconnected, and the geographical distance between India and Europe is no longer key. In the past EU-India relations have been blocked by specific bilateral issues like the FTA or the Italian Marines issue, but this time, foreign policy and security issues played an important role in the Summit, with far-reaching statements on naval exercises, space cooperation etc which two years ago would have seemed impossible.

The statement on Pakistan based-terror groups is also new. How will EU and India take this cooperation forward from here?

This time, we have mentioned not only entities but specific names (Lakhvi and Dawood Ibrahim), and we have agreed to consult each other about the listing of terrorists and designating organisations. We are working on establishing direct links between Europol and Indian agencies. It means our security cooperation is becoming more practical, and more operational.

On the Chinese Belt and Road initiative, India had been the only country raising concerns this year. Does EU too has concerns about the BRI now, along with on the South China Sea?

We are in favour of connecting Asia to Europe, but at the same time we want to be clear about the principles it should be based on. It is also important to have accessibility of the high seas on the basis of international law. My understanding is there is an absolute commonality of views between India and the European Union on this.

Will the European Union support India’s case for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council as well?

We are in favour of India playing a more important role in the international arena. We are in favour of the UNSC becoming more efficient and effective.

You speak of the steps forward taken at the India-EU summit. Yet days after the summit, German Ambassador Martin Ney said the summit had failed to reach an agreement on resuming free trade talks, and India and the EU have failed to realise their potential. Do you share that disappointment?

The geopolitical direction was prominent in this summit, but the second direction was economic cooperation, including trade, investment, climate change, clean energy, urbanization etc. India and EU are important trading partners and even after Brexit, the EU will remain India’s largest trading partner. So we want to conclude an ambitious, fair and free trade agreement, and the summit gave a political impetus to this process. This week the Indian and EU trade ministers have met and in mid-November we will have the next meeting of chief negotiators who have been tasked by the leaders to move the file forward. So I refuse to enter into any views that we failed to agree on this issue at the summit.

So you would disagree with the German Ambassador?

No comment.

What makes you confident of the chief negotiators meeting in November producing a breakthrough? The negotiators have met before, including in July this year…

Because this time there has been a decision to have a full-fledged discussion on all issue, with the participation of experts. So this will be a discussion of substance.

Was it then a mistake for India to cancel its Bilateral Investment Treaties without putting the Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement in place? Several EU countries wont allow new investments without investor protection agreements.

This is a concern, and we are consulting with European companies on this. It is important for them, and therefore it is our and India’s responsibility to complete BTIA at the earliest. I can’t comment on Indian policy, but we understand their rationale for wanting a new approach to BITs.

EU President Juncker said during the summit that it is “high time” for the FTA…is there a timeline agreed to as well, because th FTA talks resumption has missed deadlines in the past?

The EU-India summit gave the mandate to the chief negotiators to bring results. I think instead of the timelines, we should focus on the substance, and the fact that the process still continues.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 2:14:25 PM |

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