How EU is playing India against China in Indo-Pacific geopolitical rivalry
On Wednesday, European Council President Charles Michel held a news conference in Brussels following a virtual summit with the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in the framwork of what officially called the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement set up in 2007.
European Council President Charles Michel pleaded for reinforcement of “ strategic goals” and an “indispensable partner” amid increasingly tensions with China. “The EU and India are more than economic partners – we are political partners,” Michel told reporters after the summit. “India can count on the European Union, and we count on India to be a key partner.”
Michel justified the warmth EU leaders bestowed on India, by the fact that both partners share common values grounded on democracy and human rights against what it calls a systemic rival in China, witnessed by the last development in Hong Kong prompting Europe to consider a “revision” in its approach to Beijing. Michel cast light on the shared values between Europe and India saying “India and the European Union are two democracies with traditions and respecting human rights and the international rule of law. So we do have the potential to make further strides forward when it comes to the economy, the environment or digital issues,” he said. “When it comes to the political side of things, India is a partner because we share the same vision of globalisation, inspired by democratic standards, principles of freedom and liberty and inclusivity,” he added.
The EU and India will further develop security and defence consultations and military contact, including maritime security in the Indian Ocean.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said that India is a partner for the EU’s role of “defending our values”.
“We share a human-centric approach. That means using secure digital technologies to improve the quality of life of citizens, but at the same time respecting privacy and individual freedoms,” von der Leyen added.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said this week that the “draconian” national security law Beijing imposed on Hong Kong “would require revision of our approach and will clearly have an impact on our relations”.
As a sign of increasing tensions with Beijing, New Delhi and Brussels also came up with a joint statement after the summit – a contrast to the inability of Beijing and Brussels to come to terms with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang last month.