India,European Union finalise Civil Nuclear agreement on eve of virtual bilateral summit

In an important step that will deepen strategic connect between India and the  twenty seven  EU-member states, the two sides signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement ahead of their first virtual summit. The agreement signed between the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and Indian authorities promotes cooperation on research and development to find innovative ways of peaceful use of nuclear energy. Sources disclosed that the agreement was long being negotiated and finally came to fruition after thirteen years.

The virtual India-EU summit, to be held on July 15, will be co-chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen where the leaders are expected to unveil a five year roadmap to strengthen ties. Trade and investment cooperation is expected to figure prominently and discussions on how to support sustainable growth and jobs on both sides. EU officials  mentioned that both sides are also expected to launch a maritime security dialogue as part of efforts to expand defence and security cooperation. In view of what EU sees as India’s “protectionist stance” on “tariffs and opening up its services sector,” the summit is expected to address bilateral trade issues by launching a high level trade dialogue between EU trade commissioner and India’s commerce ministry. The summit will also focus on strengthening multilateralism and global institutions with the rise of an assertive China, which was discussed by external affairs  minister S. Jaishankar in his virtual meeting with European and other counterparts at the informal Alliance for Multilateralism on June 26. Apart from civil nuclear cooperation, key areas of possible cooperation are artificial intelligence, digital field, security, climate and environment.

India and EU had signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2009, to intensify cooperation to develop mutual scientific understanding and technological capability, but it did not produce substantive results. Since India has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, India-US Civil Nuclear agreement in 2005 was initially opposed by certain member states of the EU but both sides have come a long way since then focusing instead on cooperation and this latest agreement is testament to that.

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