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EU pushes for energy cooperation with India as it aims to ‘diversify away’ from Russian oil

At a meeting with PM Modi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed a keen interest in partnering with India in its quest for renewable energy.

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New Delhi: The European Union (EU) said Monday it will seek to strengthen energy ties with India as Brussels aims to “diversify away” from sourcing oil and gas from Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

In the backdrop of the war, the EU has expressed a keen interest in partnering with India in its quest for renewable energy, and reducing dependence on non-renewable sources like fossil fuel. It has also expressed its intentions to invest in clean energy on a large scale, while stressing the importance of “EU-India cooperation”. 

Soon after her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted Monday that “EU-India cooperation on solar and green hydrogen is key”.

The European Commission is the executive branch of the EU. This is von der Leyen’s maiden visit to India in her present capacity.

“India and EU ties are poised for enhanced growth and our partnership is expected to increase in the coming times,” Modi told the European Commission President during the meeting, which was held at his residence.

Stressing that India-EU ties are “today more important than ever before”, von der Leyen said, “We are vibrant democracies, we both support wholeheartedly the rules-based international order and we both have 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.”

“We are also facing a challenging political landscape,” she said, adding that security and trade will be at the centre of the India-EU relationship.

Prior to meeting Modi, the European Commission president met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. During the meeting, both sides discussed the situation in Ukraine.

Also Read: How US & allies’ potential sanctions on Russian oil & gas could hit life in Europe

EU-India Trade and Technology Council

During their meeting, PM Modi and von der Leyen decided to launch the EU-India Trade and Technology Council.

“This 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,” said a press statement issued by the European Union.

According to von der Leyen, the EU so far had only one Trade and Technology Council — with the US.

“Both sides agreed that rapid changes in the geopolitical environment highlight the need for joint in-depth strategic engagement,” the EU statement said. “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.”

India and the 27-nation EU have been negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) since 2007. During a virtual summit with EU leaders and member states last May, Modi said both sides will resume the stalled negotiations for the FTA soon.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: Russia-Ukraine war is setting ‘risky’ precedence for Indo-Pacific, EU envoy to India says


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