Ahead of the European Union (EU)-India Summit (to be held in New Delhi in October), the 28-member bloc has hinted that it will broaden its engagement and strengthen strategic and business ties with India. The EU has also indicated that it will formalise a big-bang action plan on various bilateral issues at the upcoming summit.

A senior EU official told an Indian broadsheet over the weekend that the two ‘partners’ would announce a string of joint declarations at the summit. The official, who wished to remain anonymous, revealed that the summit would prepare a concrete roadmap for addressing major issues, such as climate change, clean energy, maritime security, naval co-operation, space research and combating cyber crime.

The official expressed hope that the wide-ranging EU-India partnership would bolster co-operation between India and the Hague-based Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre on counter-terrorism operations and battling cyber crime. As far as bilateral security co-operation is concerned, he stressed that both the EU and India were eager to expand the scope of “counter-piracy dialogue to maritime security”.

Meanwhile, a top EU expert on foreign policy said that one of the major goals of the upcoming summit would be to exploring various ways to “deepen India’s strategic relationship with the EU in a post-Brexit world”. Soon after the Brexit vote, India had said that it wanted to strengthen strategic ties with the EU as Britain had “historically been India’s entry point to Europe”.

The expert informed the press that the EU would soon unveil a white paper on its new-look relationship with India in which the new areas of economic and strategic co-operation would be mentioned. He said that it would be important for both the parties to resolve outstanding issues, including the wide-ranging Free Trade Agreement (FTA), in New Delhi.

It is unfortunate that the FTA has proved elusive so far despite 10 years of negotiations, said the expert. He insisted that India’s decision to cancel a multitude of bilateral investment treaties unilaterally heightened the EU’s concerns about India’s “protectionist attitude” in some sectors. However, the EU leaders in Brussels still believe that the October summit will cement bilateral ties in the post-Brexit world.

“The EU has a very important relationship with India, and we expect the summit to move it from the dialogue stage to one of co-operation” stated the expert.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]