European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Monday in New Delhi the launch of a joint EU-India Trade and Technology Council.
The Council, similar to the joint EU-US one, is part of the EU’s effort to loosen India’s ties with Russia, especially in military technology.
As the joint press release notes, “(t)his strategic coordination mechanism will allow both partners to tackle challenges at the nexus of trade, trusted technology and security, and thus deepen cooperation in these fields between the EU and India.”
“Both sides agreed that rapid changes in the geopolitical environment highlight the need for joint in-depth strategic engagement,” the statement continues. “The Trade and Technology Council will provide the political steer and the necessary structure to operationalise political decisions, coordinate technical work, and report to the political level to ensure implementation and follow-up in areas that are important for the sustainable progress of European and Indian economies,” it adds.
“We are vibrant democracies, we both support wholeheartedly the rules-based international order and we have both large economies, and we are both facing a challenging global landscape. For the European Union, the partnership with India is one of our most important relationships for the coming decade and strengthening this partnership is a priority,” von der Leyen declared in India.
India’s stance in the Ukraine war has the West worried. The Modi government has avoided to condemn the Russian invasion, abstaining from the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council votes. India imports almost half of its weapons from Russia, including submarines, T-90 tanks, Su-30 fighters and the S-400 anti-missile system. It must be noted, though, that it is now procuring less: 46% of its weapons systems came from Russia in 2017-21, compared to 69% in 2012-16, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute data quoted by the Economist.
According to the Financial Times, von der Leyen will bring up a likely sale of European military equipment to India and the creation of partnerships in order to further lessen India’s dependence on Russian military technology. The FT also report that a sales pitch by Western officials trying to get New Delhi on their side is the “no limits” cooperation between Russia and India’s main geopolitical adversary China.