The EU has been working on an India engagement for two decades now – a strategic partnership and a free trade engagement. It is finally being realised – the outcome of the visit of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to Delhi this month. The upgraded, ambitious partnership Europe’s long overdue pivot to India.
The India-EU summit held May 8, was more ambitious than previous ones. Now the summit’s words must turn into action, an effort that will require continuous discussion, patient negotiation and uninterrupted dialogue between Delhi and Brussels. Will the two capitals be willing to compromise and find common ground that they have not managed to demonstrate before?
This India-EU summit was different from the ones past, and India is a significant gainer. A trade agreement and connectivity partnership aside, the EU has stepped up to help India during this emergency, viewing it not as a weak state but as a partner in distress. The geopolitical indicators for an enhanced engagement are now also in place.
The India-Italy bilateral is looking up again, after a hiatus. A digital summit of the two leaders was held on 6 November 2020, and assumes greater significance in light of the pandemic, and Italy’s upcoming presidency of the G20. The most promising outcome of this energetic diplomacy and summiteering, is that Italy is slowly being weaned away from its close economic embrace with China. Its trade and investment are unlikely to decouple soon, but Italy is now more in line with the EU initiatives on 5G and quality infrastructure - the right time for Italy and India to derive advantage from it.