A virtual summit on EU India: Building Perspectives for the next decade
Updated: Mar 18
On 2nd March, the 2nd summit of the EUIndia60 campaign titled "EU India: Building Perspectives for the next decade" was held virtually. This virtual event looked at how EU India relations can evolve during the next decade. In 1962, that is 60 years ago, Indian Ambassador Krishen Behari Lall presented his Credentials to Mr Walter Hallstein, President of the Commission of the European Economic Community. He was the first also to be accredited to the European Community.
The event had several leaders in the EU India corridor and UK India corridor alongside EuropeIndia40 leaders. Some of the leaders who shared their inputs during the summit are as follows.
Mr Sandeep Chakravorty IFS - Joint Secretary - Europe West Division, Ministry of External Affairs, India
Mr Soren Gade - Member of European Parliament - Denmark/ Chairman - EU Delegation for Relations with India
Mr Laurent le Danois - Team Leader - Cooperation Section, Delegation of the European Union to India and Bhutan
Ms Ursa Pondelek - Policy Advisor for International Trade, European Parliament, Renew group.
Prof Neeta Inamdar, PhD - Jean Monnet Chair, Prof and Head - Manipal Centre for European Studies, Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal./ EUIndia60 committee
Ms Françoise Binsfeld - Director, Aide à l’Enfance de l’Inde et du Népal (AEIN)
EuropeIndia40 leaders who shared their inputs during the discussion were as follows.
Mr Flo Oberhofer - Founder - Terra Preta Impact Innovations LLP/ EuropeIndia40 leader
Ms Juliane Frommter - Program Lead - EU-India Innocenter / EuropeIndia40 leader
Mr Naozad Hodiwala - Country Coordinator for India - ICMPD/ EuropeIndia40 leader
Mr Subrahmanyam Pulipaka - CEO - National Solar Energy Federation of India/ EuropeIndia40 leader
Ms Raita Mocherla - VP - Pangaea TradeTeam Private Limited/ EuropeIndia40 leader
Ms Sukanya Dutta - Investment advisor - AWEX, Belgium/ EuropeIndia40 leader
Ms Jana Kohler - Founder - HalloGermany/ EuropeIndia40 leader
The recordings from the summit can be viewed here - https://youtu.be/uQrSkvGTwu4
The interns from EICBI - Ms Chinmayi, Ms Arundhati and Ms Meghana - have scribed the speech given by the speakers during the summit.
The event commenced with insightful remarks by Mr Søren Gade, Member of European Parliament - Denmark and Chairman of the European Union Delegation for Relations with India.
Although trade between the EU and India has increased significantly over the last ten years, Mr Gade sees untapped potential and the need to strengthen further trade ties that could prove to be mutually beneficial. He stressed the importance of cementing cooperation between India and Europe - both guardians of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, particularly in light of the Russia-Ukraine crisis and the polarised world we live in. He maintains that it is time to build on the past foundations and take forward EU-India relations built on mutual respect and shared values.
He commented that “I think it is essential to boost trade and investment between our two parties because it will increase the life quality of both Europeans and the population of India. Furthermore, even closer cooperation will create a platform to exchange ideas, knowledge and technology that we can use in the fight against climate change.”
He also mentioned as follows “More importantly, we need to strengthen our relationship because we now live in a more and more polarised world with many powers challenging democracy and liberal order that both the European Union and India are guardians of.”
He mentioned that it is of utmost importance that States and organisations that share the same fundamental values such as a belief in the rule of law, human rights and democracy intensify their cooperation. Therefore, India and the European Union are natural partners as both nations indeed share these fundamental values and beliefs.
He ended his talk with the following quote “Now, the time is to build on the foundation laid by Honourable K.B. Lall 60 years ago and to continue the work towards a strong and deeper relationship between the European Union and India built on mutual respect and shared values.”
Mr Sandeep Chakravorthy spoke about how the stalled India-EU trade negotiations were restarted and have now decided to have three separate agreements: Trade, investment, and geographical indications. There will be parallel negotiations for all three, and India hopes to conclude all three simultaneously.
He mentioned the growing robust scientific cooperation between India and the EU. There are plans to work on renewable energy and improve grid performance. India is working with the EU to cooperate in green hydrogen in research such as electrolyte battery capacities etc.
EU has declared both the Indo-Pacific strategy and the global gateway strategy. It will have more presence militarily and in the marine maritime sector. The EU will implement connectivity partnerships and invest more in the transmission lines, railway lines, roads and ports, digital connectivity and increased people to people connectivity. So India is expected to have more significant EU presence indo-Pacific.
India is constantly pushing forward the EU-India agenda and formulating strategic and institutional frameworks. Efforts are being taken to create several security and defence related frameworks. Due to discussions with the EU on defence and security issues, there are working groups on counter-terrorism, maritime security, non-proliferation, etc.
Mr Laurent le Danois shared more details about the Global Gateway Strategy. He mentioned that through the Global Gateway strategy EU is focusing on the sectors of digitalisation, climate and energy, transport, health, education and research to deliver high-quality projects based on the needs of the partner countries, inclusive of having a global outlook. He mentioned European Funds for Sustainable Development (EFSDs) that have channelised towards achieving the sustainable development goals through technical assistance, budgetary guarantees and a mix of loans and grants to facilitate the aid between EU and the Asian countries. The contribution of India under the Policy dialogues that are already in talks with the global gateways will try to get assistance from the EU national banks to mobilise resources and funds to India.
Ms Ursa Pondelek mentioned that the European traders and investors operating in India have been providing feedback that there is very little progress in removing the current irritants from the markets. She mentioned that EU companies face many difficulties in accessing the Indian market or investing in India. For example, extremely high tariffs, obstacles to accessing government procurement such as local content requirements, technical barriers to trade, notably, domestic standards that increasingly deviate from the internationally agreed ones because India wants to promote its standards. But European Union’s approach is to take internationally agreed standards.
Indian policies such as Make in India and self-reliant India promote domestic manufacturing and discourage imports. Still, the problem from the EU businesses is that first, to produce locally, they need to import intermediary products and inputs. And secondly, to fully integrate their Indian business into the global value chains, they need to align with international standards.
European Union is also internally revising its approach to trade and sustainable development chapters, which entail human rights, labour rights, and environmental clauses. So the ambition is also rising in the European Union regarding enforcement of these chapters. Open rules-based and sustainable trade create prosperity and jobs; they deepen friendships between people worldwide.
Panel Discussion - Talent Mobility in the India EU Corridor
The panel discussion titled ‘India EU: Talent Mobility in the India EU Corridor’ saw the participation of four EuropeIndia40 leaders and was chaired by Prof Neeta Inamdar, PhD
Jean Monnet Chair, Prof and Head - Manipal Centre for European Studies, Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal.
Prof Neeta Inamdar initiated the discussion by mentioning that Talent mobility needs a context and framework in terms of technology, knowledge, capacity building, and peer to peer interaction, which is a way forward where humanity aspires for peace.
One of the panellists, Juliane, mentioned that the younger population from the European Union and India had been actively engaging in the activities and programs conducted which is reflected in the enthusiasm that looks way beyond the geographical borders. An effort is also made to make them aware of the cultural and linguistic diversity that helps to build a strong bond ensuring cultural coordination to bring in peace when it comes to mobility.
Another panellist, Sukanya Dutta, mentioned that Talent mobility mainly follows the path of three pillars. An organisation which can be - both government and non-government, students related to their academic and education and startups. If these pillars are not interconnected and do not co-operate, then talent mobility culture cannot grow.
Naozad Hodiwala mentioned that how well adapted policies are well informed and formulated to channel peaceful mobility of the talent is very important amid times of tense situations. India having a demographic advantage helps entrepreneurship, investment, and medical assistance hold an upper hand. Recognition of skills of Indian students under the light of NEP when it comes to student mobility to the EU Countries is a matter of importance and a concern. He mentioned the Holistic approach to protecting migrants when it comes to skills so that they are compatible with global standards.
Jana Koehler mentioned that skill shortages in the countries are a major factor in attracting talent, but recent scenarios can impact the labour market. Vocational training centres are helping individuals to fill in the skill gaps concerning their educational qualifications. Students are encouraged to learn German language skills so that they do not miss out on work opportunities in Germany.
Prof Neeta Inamdar summarised the panel discussion by mentioning that the capacity building that stems out as an outcome from the mobility brings out the question of whether it is bringing people closer from the EU and India where people to people connectivity is looking forward to strengthening the relations that may have a more significant impact when viewed from a global context.
Panel Discussion - India EU: Cooperation on Climate and Energy
The panel discussion titled ‘India EU: Cooperation on Climate and Energy’ saw the participation of three EuropeIndia40 leaders who are actively involved in climate action and the advocacy of sustainable development. The panellists provided insights into India and the EU’s cooperation on climate and energy. They discussed their contributions and the excellent potential for future collaboration in related fields.
The panel was chaired by Ms. Françoise Binsfeld, Executive Director at Aide à l'Enfance de l'Inde et du Népal, an NGO that strives to empower the more vulnerable and marginalised communities of India and Nepal to become self-sufficient. With climate change becoming a matter of global concern, this Luxembourg-based NGO, in collaboration with a local partner in India, has been carrying out, since 2019, a project in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, funded by the International Climate and Energy Fund of Luxembourg Ministry of Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development. With five domains of intervention (reforestation, climate-smart agriculture, energy, water and training), Ms Binsfeld underlined that the project's broad objective is to transform traditional villages into climate-smart villages with the assistance of affordable and replicable systems.
The first panellist was Mr Subrahmanyam Pulipaka, the CEO of the National Solar Energy Federation of India. During the discussion, Mr Pulipaka reaffirmed India and Europe’s close association in climate change mitigation and renewable energy sectors, shedding light, particularly on NSEFI’s and India’s close cooperation with European partners. Mr Pulipaka believes that this cooperation encompasses three broad facets - Policy and knowledge exchange, Financing, and Innovation exchange. Concerning knowledge exchange, he maintains that the wisdom of the EU goes a long way in helping frame cohesive policies for combating climate change and allowing the energy ecosystem to flourish. The Indian renewable energy sector permits up to 100% FDI. This, coupled with low tariffs for solar and renewable energy, have opened up avenues for investment, with the EU playing a role. The interaction of India-EU startup ecosystems, business-business agreements and bilateral energy trade are key factors that have helped and continue to help the Indian ecosystem. Mr Pulipaka aspires to make India the hub for all climate-friendly technology sourcing requirements for the EU.
The second panellist, Ms Raita Mocherla, Vice President of Pangaea TradeTeam, brought in exciting perspectives on climate cooperation's business and market side. Her company offers ecological, energy-efficient sewage treatment solutions using Swedish technology certified by the India Green Building Council. Ms Mocherla noted that conventional, mechanical sewage treatment methods employ power-intensive equipment and generate gases like methane. At the same time, natural alternative processes can produce identical sewage treatment results using just plants! She underlined that most clients have a ‘cost first’ attitude, with their primary concern being saving money and helping the climate in the process being a bonus. A barrier to keeping prices - capital expenses in particular - down are the high import duties in India, consulting costs for EU expertise, and (in case of natural sewage treatment) expensive civil work. Ms Mocherla emphasised the need for some exemption from import duties or the provision of incentives for energy-efficient products that would render them attractive to the larger consumer market. Unlike Europe, where sewage treatment is centralised, every urban building must have its sewage treatment facility in India. Ms Mocherla sees potential in the EU and India collaborating to create a forum to bring together solution providers and city planners to exchange ideas and integrate natural vertical sewage treatment and new, environment-friendly initiatives in cities.
The third and final panellist was Mr Flo Oberhofer, Co-founder and Partner at Terra Preta Impact Innovations, an India-based company based out of Meghalaya that supports new MSMEs in venture building in the social entrepreneurship sector. At the front of the state-run entrepreneurship development programme of the Government of Meghalaya, Terra Preta plays a vital role in guiding interested businesses in commencing or expanding their ventures in India. With India being home to 4 biodiversity hotspots, Mr Oberhofer sees vast scope for biodiversity business opportunities in India for the EU delegation and its member countries in areas like genetic resource capturing, restoration of water bodies, seeds, regenerative agriculture and more. He observes a ‘shift in mindset’ towards quality and durability, especially in Meghalaya when it comes to the technology and equipment they use, consume and invest in - a plus for attracting European investors. Mr Oberhofer advises that along with bringing in the best of technology, European companies must be willing to adapt to India and the ‘jugaad’ and frugal innovation that decidedly come with doing business here. Another sector that he sees market opportunities in is ‘compostable plastic’, considering that many states in India have banned single-use plastic. He recommends that European businesses and startups with green technology that could be adapted and integrated into India look into programmes under the EU-India Green deal, partner with local NGOs and speak to local incubators, many of which offer several niche grants.
To know about our EUIndia60 campaign, please find more details here - https://www.eicbi.org/euindia60-campaign.