EU and India agree trade and technology cooperation as part of Western bid to break Russia ties

By on 27/04/2022 | Updated on 27/04/2022
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen stands at a podium
Ursula von der Leyen said the EU and India were “determined to increase joint efforts to tackle current challenges and address geopolitical circumstances”. Photo CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2020 – Source: EP via Flickr

India and the European Union are to form a trade and technology council to boost cooperation in the face of rising geopolitical uncertainty following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The announcement of the agreement was made on Monday during a visit to India by Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president. The visit is one of a number of engagements by Western governments to encourage India to reduce its ties with Russia in the wake of the invasion. While the Modi government has called for an immediate end to violence, it has refrained from explicitly condemning Russia’s actions.

von der Leyen said the council would “allow both partners to tackle challenges at the nexus of trade, trusted technology and security”, adding that both parties “agreed that rapid changes in the geopolitical environment highlight the need for joint in-depth strategic engagement”.

Full details of the council’s scope have not yet been released but the EU said the Trade and Technology Council would provide the “political steer and the necessary structure to operationalise political decisions”, coordinate technical work, and “report to the political level to ensure implementation and follow-up in areas that are important for the sustainable progress of European and Indian economies”.

The EU’s only other partnership of this kind – with the US – works on standards for emerging technologies, tech supply chains, information security, data governance, preventing misuse of technology that threatens security and human rights, and SME access to and use of digital technologies.

von der Leyen said the agreement illustrated that the EU and India were “determined to increase joint efforts to tackle current challenges and address geopolitical circumstances”.

The creation of the council will also help India in its aim to boost its tech industry and its standing in the field internationally. The country hopes to become a semiconductor manufacturing power, see its Institutes of Technology – elite universities that have produced Silicon Valley chief executives – grow in influence, and enable start-ups to flourish in areas such as information security.

India-UK cybersecurity partnership

The announcement follows the UK government publishing details last week of its Enhanced Cyber Security Partnership with India, first announced in May 2021. The partnership focuses on cyber governance, deterrence, resilience, and capacity building.

It said the two countries are committed to enhanced defence and security cooperation; would “deepen co-ordination on mitigation strategies” against cyber threats; that they recognise the UN “norms prohibiting the use of cyber tools to intentionally damage or impair critical infrastructure”; and that they would build a “comprehensive international convention” on countering cybercriminals, ensuring speedy justice for the victims of cybercrime and taking into account the need for appropriate safeguards including data protection.

They also plan to identify shared vulnerabilities; work closely with industry and through international standards organisations to ensure Internet of Things connectable devices are secure by design; support efforts to increase the availability and diversity of cyber skills in the workforce; and work with the private sector to protect people from online harms.  

Read more: Indian government urged to prioritise privacy as it embarks on data-sharing plan

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About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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