Worldview with Suhasini Haidar | Modi’s European tour: Rich in symbolism, what about substance?

3 days, 3 countries and meetings with 7 heads of government – Prime Minister Narendra Modi certainly punctuated his tour of Europe – but did the meetings lack punch? We will tell you about the agreements and points of disagreement during his visits to Germany, France and Denmark. Remember, the visit also came just after European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen visited Delhi last week for the Raisina Dialogue (Ep 59) and held talks with the Prime minister.

The Prime Minister’s visits to each of the three European capitals had a specific objective:

1 In Berlin, the Prime Minister was meeting the new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for the biennial Intergovernmental Commission talks between the two countries

2 In Denmark, he participated in the second Nordic summit with the leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden

3 In France, he met the newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron, with the old bonhomie between the two leaders clearly visible

It was the prime minister’s first overseas visit this year after a number of high-level meetings were canceled due to the Omicron virus outbreak. It is also his first visit to Europe since the start of the great war in Ukraine, which completely changed the course of Europe. I will come back to this shortly, but overall the results of the three visits were observed in these areas:

1 Green Partnership: India’s partnerships with the EU have always focused on tackling climate change.

– In Germany, Chancellor Scholz announced an advance commitment of 10 billion euros for a green partnership. They also agreed on a 7-point agenda on cooperation on renewable energy and sustainable growth and decided to establish a two-year ministerial mechanism to lead these initiatives.

– In Denmark, the Prime Minister spoke with each of his Nordic counterparts on strengthening cooperation in the fields of wind and solar energy, pollution control and urban renewal projects and other projects greens. The Prime Minister also reiterated commitments made at COP26: 500 gigawatts of non-fossil fuels by 2030, 50% of power capacity from renewables by 2030, 1 billion tonnes reduction in emissions of carbon emissions by 2030, the carbon intensity of the Indian economy to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and net zero by 2070. However, 6 months later, these commitments remain verbal, because India has yet to update its Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs) – pending climate finance.

– And in France, Prime Minister Modi called for French investment to make India a green hydrogen hub, while the two countries agreed on an integrated supply chain approach for production solar energy in Europe and Asia. Additionally, a statement from French power group EDF after the visit said it hoped to make progress on the long-standing deal for six nuclear reactors in Jaitapur.

2 Defense and Security partnerships:

– With Germany, India agreed to intensify high-tech transfer collaborations and signed a joint declaration of intent for an agreement on the exchange of classified information

– The Nordic stop did not have a security component but was focused on new technologies

– In France, the two parties establish a strategic dialogue on space issues, strengthen a cyber dialogue and find more ways for France to invest in the construction of the Indian defense industry

3 Finally, India and the EU have started discussing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. What’s also significant is some sort of triangular engagement with Japan over the past few weeks. German Chancellor Scholz was in Japan just before Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Germany. The next EU-Japan summit will take place next week in Tokyo. Prime Minister Kishida was in Italy, followed by the Italian FM’s visit to Delhi. And PM Modi will travel to Japan later this month for the Quad Summit.

While these are all talking points, the Prime Minister’s European tour was also marked by a few disagreements:

1 To begin with, while there were several joint declarations and joint declarations of intent, there were very few actual agreements signed during the visit.

2 Disagreement over Ukraine: It has been a recurring theme for some weeks, whether in the United States, or with European leaders in Delhi, or during the Prime Minister’s visit to Europe, India’s position on Ukraine and Russia remains far removed from the West’s position, and this was reiterated in judgments this week.

The differences may recur next month – as Germany invited India to the G7 summit in June, Prime Minister Modi has yet to confirm his attendance.

3 Energy from Russia: This will be an area of ​​greater divergence in the future, as the EU has started a new round of negotiations aimed at canceling imports of Russian oil by advancing a deadline for European countries at the end of 2022.

India Not Only Refused To Join EU Sanctions But Also Accelerated Oil Imports From Russia – According To A Reuters Report Based On Gathering Information From Importers And Traders of crude oil – India ordered at least 40 million barrels of Russian oil between February 24-April 24, which means that – India took in two months more than double what it did all the time. year – 16 million barrels

4 India EU FTA: When Prime Minister Modi last visited Berlin for the Intergovernmental Commission in 2018, he and Chancellor Merkel pledged to revive talks between India and the European Union by view of a bilateral trade and investment agreement or FTA, which have been on hold since 2013. Despite dozens of similar promises, talks have yet to resume. While India has accelerated other FTAs ​​with the UAE, Australia, UK and others, many thought they would also see movement on the India-EU FTA, but aside A misplaced mention during the visit to Denmark, the talks between trade negotiators didn’t get much of a buzz during the visit. The EU is India’s 3rd largest trading partner, after China and the US, and its 2nd largest export destination, but it has much greater potential, which an FTA could help reach. rdn/a

5 Human rights and freedom of the press in India – Similar to US meetings last month, European countries, which conduct their foreign policy through the EU, have also expressed concern over alleged violations of human rights in India and the decline of press freedom – the difference It was the EU that made its statement ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit, while the European Union Special Representative for human rights, Eamon Gilmore, was in Delhi for the Raisina dialogue. In separate tweets about his meetings with the NHRC and Minority Affairs Minister Naqvi, Mr Gilmore said he had discussed many specific issues, including “the use of FCRA laws to prohibit the funding of NGOs , the use of sedition and anti-terrorism laws, detentions, the situation of minorities, communal violence, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and individual cases.

Reading recommendations:

– There have been very few books specifically focused on India-EU relations, but a former ambassador to the EU, Bhaswati Mukherjee, has published one: India and the EU: An insiders view

– For those who are still trying to understand the changes in Europe after Ukraine, it is worth reading this book on the latest Ukrainian crisis: Conflict in Ukraine: The Unwinding of the Post-Cold War Order by Rajan Menon, professor at Columbia University

– Challenges in Europe: Indian Perspectives – where the authors examine several EU issues, in particular trade and economic engagement – Edited by Gulshan Sachdeva

– The foreign policy of the European Union – By Stephan Keukeleire and Tom Delreux

– And a soon-to-be-released book entitled The European Union’s Foreign Policy: Assessing Europe’s Role in the World by researcher Federiga Bindi