President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen will visit India on April 24-25 eyeing to push an economic, security and connectivity agenda amid efforts to balance China’s belligerence in the Indo-Pacific region and create sustainable supply chains.
The fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, the energy and digital transition, connectivity, security and defence, cooperation in the Indo-Pacific will be at the centre of Ursula von der Leyen conversations in Delhi, officials said. She will call on President Ram Nath Kovind and PM Narendra Modi.
India-EU broad economic agenda, with a focus on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Investment Protection agreement and Geographical Indications agreement will also be on the agenda. India and EU hope to relaunch negotiations for FTA in the backdrop of India’s renewed focus on FTAs. India has signed FTAs with UAE and Australia and have launched negotiations with UK and Israel besides relaunching negotiations for FTA with Canada.
This will be von der Leyen’s first visit to India after taking over the European Commission office. von der Leyen will be the chief guest at this year’s inaugural session at India’s premier foreign policy dialogue — Raisina Dialogue – organised by MEA and the Observer Research Foundation. Modi will also be present on the occasion. She will highlight the vast potential of the EU India strategic partnership and offer the EU perspective over the current geopolitical challenges. While an EU statement announced that Russia’s war against Ukraine will also feature in von der Leyen discussions, the announcement by MEA on her visit did not find any such mention.
India has divergences with the West on approaching the crisis and has repeatedly emphasised on dialogue and diplomacy to address the conflict. India neither condemned Russia’s “special military operations” in Ukraine nor did it support West backed resolutions in UN against Russia.
The Modi government has also publicly differed with the USA and Europe on being called out for its limited oil purchases from Russia while Europe continues to make volumes of energy imports from Moscow per day.