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Report of Monday Morning Meeting on “Prime Minister Modi’s Visit to Europe: An Analysis”

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  • May 09, 2022
    Monday Morning Meeting
    1000 hrs

    Ms. Anandita Bhada, Research Analyst, Europe and Eurasia Centre, MP-IDSA spoke on the topic “Prime Minister Modi’s Visit to Europe: An Analysis” at the Monday Morning Meeting held on 9 May 2022. The meeting was moderated by Dr. Swasti Rao, Associate Fellow, Europe and Eurasia Centre, MP-IDSA. 

    Ambassador Sujan R. Chinoy, Director General, MP-IDSA, Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Bipin Bakshi (Retd.), Deputy Director General, MP-IDSA and scholars of the Institute participated in the meeting.

    Executive Summary

    On his first visit abroad after the COVIC Pandemic, Prime Minister Modi decided to travel to Europe. The trip included visits to Germany, Denmark and France at a time when a significant shift is underway in the European security paradigm. The Prime Minister’s visit can also be seen as India reciprocating recent visits from European leaders to India. The Prime Minister's visits ensured that many important agreements were signed and future cooperation was discussed.   

    Detailed Report

    The Monday morning meeting began with Dr. Swasti Rao giving a background description of the Prime Minister's visit to Europe which included Germany, Denmark and France. She stressed on the importance of the visit which concluded with a wide array of agreements in emerging areas of green energy cooperation. The success of the various visits were underscored with the signing of a number of agreements in important fields. She lay emphasis on the timing of the visit wherein Europe is undergoing a paradigm shift in its security architecture. She concluded her remarks by highlighting the European stance towards India which is now seen through a positive lens.  Europe which was until recently criticising India for its neutral position towards the Russia- Ukraine war, now sees India as an important friend and an important global player.

    Ms Anandita Bhada, the Speaker, at the outset, focused on the timing of the visit, particularly with the crisis in Ukraine and the recent visits from various European leaders and delegations.

    She highlighted that this visit was happening at a time when there is increased European interest in the Indo-Pacific. The common topics of deliberation in all three visits have been the Indo-Pacific, the Russia-Ukraine Crisis, the green initiatives due to the energy crisis and the reaching out to the Indian Diaspora within the three countries.

    Germany and India have recently completed seventy years of diplomatic relations and Germany is India's largest trading partner in Europe. There are 1700 German companies active in India providing 4 lakh jobs. These companies contribute to the ‘Make in India’ initiative and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. The large Indian Diaspora is also making strides in contributing to India's relations with Germany. This also happened to be the Prime Minister's first visit with the newly elected Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz.

    The main focus of the visit was the sixth India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations. The major themes discussed included a green and sustainable future, growth and resilience and an open and peaceful Indo-Pacific. A total of nine agreements were signed between the two countries which include Indo- German Partnership on Green and Sustainable Development and Development Cooperation on Renewable Energy Partnership.

    The next visit was to Denmark, with which India’s bilateral trade has increased from 2.8 billion dollars in 2016 to 5 billion dollars in 2021. Around 200 Danish firms investing in India in various areas like shipping, renewable energy and agriculture and the setup of manufacturing facilities under the ‘Make in India’ initiative; have given a boost to the relationship.

    The main focus of the visit was on the three ‘T’s; trade, technology and talent. In the trade section, the Prime Minister addressed the India-Denmark Business Forum to attract more Danish investment. On technology, the focus was on ‘green technology’ which focused on the agreement of the Joint Science and Technology Committee, reached in January 2022. This agreement's main focus is on joint research on green fuels, especially hydrogen. On talent, the main focus was on the exchange of talent between the Indian Diaspora in Denmark and Danish companies in India. Denmark also assured India of its support for its bid for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) permanent membership. India reciprocated with its assurance and support to Denmark in its quest for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC. There were nine agreements signed with Denmark which included the Launch of Energy Policy Dialogue at the Ministerial level and the Letter of Intent on Centre of Excellence in Green Shipping.

    Another important part of the Denmark visit was the 2nd India- Nordic Summit. The Nordic countries only share this format with the United States apart from India. The main focus of this summit was cooperation in the field of climate change, innovation, digitalisation and green growth. The Prime Minister invited the Nordic countries to invest in the blue economy and digitalisation in India. There were also individual meetings with the various heads of states with a focus on certain issues blue economy, arctic, and information technology.

    The final leg of the Prime Minister’s Europe visit was to France. The re-election of Emmanuel Macron meant a return of a continued French foreign policy including the French engagement in the Indo-Pacific. France also holds the Presidency of the European Council; therefore, Macron’s return re-enforces prior plans concerning the steering of the European Union as well. France is also an important defence ally for India with which it conducts joint defence exercises. The alliance also focuses on Indian diversification, co-designing and co-production of defence equipment.

    The main theme of this meeting was the Indo-Pacific, Ukraine, clean energy and sustainable development. The two nations have been Strategic Partners since 1998 and with regard to the Indo-Pacific, they are both committed to a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific region. France is looking to work with India in third countries in the Western Indian Ocean. There were also discussions on various topics ranging from space, trade, defence, green energy, cyber security and food security.

    In the conclusion, the Speaker stated the need for sustained enthusiasm in Europe’s engagement with India and vice versa.  India’s defence cooperation with Europe needs to go beyond the buyer-seller relationship and aim for transfer of technology. India also needs to convey to its western partners that India’s relations with Russia are based on its national interest. The speaker ended her presentation by stating that India-Europe relations have a long way to go.  

    Questions and Comments

    Ambassador Sujan R. Chinoy, Director General, MP-IDSA stated that the United Nations Security Council's recent statements which have avoided mention of  words like ‘conflict’ and ‘invasion’ show that India’s neutral stance on the same since the beginning is finding more legitimacy at the international level. The statement is reminiscent of India's consistent stand concerning the conflict. UN’s position also sits well with the Europeans and has eased some of the pressures between India- Europe relations. He also stated that the Europeans are reaching out to India in their individual capacity as well and not limiting their outreach within the EU framework only.

    Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Bipin Bakshi (Retd.), Deputy Director General, MP-IDSA brought out India's Arctic Policy while discussing the Nordic states. He asked whether the Arctic Council figured in India’s discussion with the Nordic states.

    The second question was on the Indo-Pacific and the Western Indian Ocean region. The French and European Union views are not aligned with the views of the United States and United Kingdom as is apparent from the AUKUS deal. The Speaker was asked about the evolving engagement of leading European nations towards a combined enhanced strategic engagement in the Indian Ocean Region.

    Ms. Anandita Bhada, the Speaker, gave detailed and insightful replies in response to comments and questions received from the participants.

    The Report was prepared by Mr. Jason Wahlang, Research Analyst, Europe and Eurasia Centre, MP-IDSA.