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France’s Presidency of the EU to work with India for providing an alternative to Chinese model in Indo-Pacific region: Envoy

Synopsis Expanding the Indo-Pacific partnership with India would not only be a key bilateral goal for France but also for the EU, according to the Fr

Bringing the EU’s ties with India to a truly strategic level will be a priority of French Presidency of the European Union beginning this month and a key goal of the growing partnership is to provide transparent, sustainable development model in the Indo-Pacific region that would also serve as an alternative to the Chinese model, according to French envoy to India Emmanuel Lenain.

Speaking exclusively to ET as France took over the six month rotating presidency of the EU at a crititical time in geo-politics Lenain explained that a key goal over these six months is to expand the EU's strategic partnership with India on the back of excellent bilateral ties. “Last time France held the EU Presidency was in 2008. France has an ambitious agenda for the EU Presidency and India will play an important part in French goals. There is a renewed interest in India about the EU. The EU is an understated giant in India. But the grouping is the largest economy in the world and the foremost trading power. The EU is India’s foremost trading partner as a bloc. From data protection, to climate and the EU's Global Gateway Initiative, the EU has a lot to offer to India.”

It may be noted here that the EU has unveiled its own massive infrastructure development programme, Global Gateway, to provide an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The India-EU Connectivity Partnership will be a vital component of the EU’s Global Gateway initiative that aims to create ‘links and not dependencies’ through investments in quality infrastructure in order to connect goods, services, institutions, banks, businesses and people across the world.

Expanding the Indo-Pacific partnership with India would not only be a key bilateral goal for France but also for the EU, according to the French envoy. He pointed out that the goal is to provide a comprehensive approach from security to sustainable development to environment protection. “A model that is open and transparent.” France is organising an Indo-Pacific Forum on February 22 in Paris as part of its EU Presidency priorities and has invited several Foreign Affairs Ministers from partner countries in the region. Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has been invited for the Forum.

When asked about Indo-French partnership in the Western Indian Ocean Region where France has significant assets and where India has major interest for decades, Lenain informed that joint plans are underway in the region including port calls by Indian naval ships to the French territories. “There are also plans for expanding maritime security partnership and joint patrolling in the region. But it is not just the Indian Ocean Region, New Delhi and Paris are also looking to jointly develop initiatives for Africa.”

The envoy further pointed out that India and France are also planning to focus on developing the Blue Economy in the Indian Ocean Region besides ambitious climate agenda both at bilateral level as well as the level of EU.

Recalling the visit of the French Defence Minister the envoy pointed out that dialogue during the visit was extremely productive. “The focus is on joint production of defence products, localisation of production in India by French defence companies. France will bring the best technology to India.”

Asked about Indo-French cooperation in the Afghan theatre, Lenain emphasised on the growing counter-terror partnership while Taliban do not meet the demands of the UNSC resolution approved last August under India’s chairmanship.



Source : Economic Times

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