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EU to resume talks with India on free trade agreement, discuss strategic co

They hope that the 14th EU-India Summit will get economic dialogue to relaunch talks on FTA

Press Trust of India  |  Brussels 

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The European Union is looking at a bilateral summit with next month that would act as a catalyst for resumption of talks on the agreement encompassing goods, services and mutual protection, according to a senior official.

Talks on the Bilateral Agreement (BTIA) -- the official title of the pact -- started in 2007 but have been marred by various flip-flops and disagreements.

The discussions have remained deadlocked on issues like tariffs on automobiles and wines and spirits, officials said.

They hoped that the 14th EU-Summit, likely in early October "will get the economic dialogue going as a precursor to relaunching talks on FTA".

The last summit on March 30, 2016, saw discussions focused on and investment, and climate, water, and foreign and security policy.

"Unfortunately, Indian policy has created major uncertainties for us because your has taken policy decision to let bilateral treaties, which gave very clear rules, lapse," said a senior official, who did not want to be named.

The 28 member states of the wanted the pacts to continue until they are replaced by EU-FTA that would have had an chapter.

"Indian side thought it was wiser to let the bilateral treaties (BITs) lapse," the official said, adding that investors, in many cases, no longer have bilateral protection.

The official said not just wants an FTA but "also an investor certainty created by provisions of treaty".

The push for the pact comes amid many countries world over, including the US, questioning the system of The US has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and has questioned the benefits of globalisation and

Expressing dismay over India's decision to do away with bilateral treaties with its member states, the official said: "All the member states wanted to prolong these until it would be replaced by wide treaty with in form of FTA, which would have had an chapter".

On the expected deliverables of the EU-Summit, another official said that besides joint declaration on change and clean energy, a likely one is on a partnership for smart and sustainable urbanisation -- linking the EU's Urban Agenda with India's '100 Smart Cities Mission'.

European Bank (EIB) loan for Bangalore metro development, is also on the cards.

"The European Bank which sits is Luxembourg, had in the last summit signed a major loan for Lucknow metro development. And I think now there will be new loans for Bangalore metro development," an official familiar with the development.

He declined however to specify the size of the new loan being negotiated. The loan is in the process of finalisation, the official added.

The two sides may also look to strengthen security cooperation such as by expanding the scope of counter-piracy dialogue to maritime security and establishing a new dialogue on cyber crime and space.

Also, it may support India-Europol cooperation on issues like cyber crime and counter terrorism.

"We have had recently good and concrete dialogue on cyber security and counter terrorism and on maritime security. And these are certainly key fields where we can deepen our cooperation," the official said.

On the new areas of cooperation, he said a with Europol, which is the Europe wide agency for police cooperation, is being talked about.

"We are looking forward to having some form of between and Europol. So these are examples of increased cooperation in security," said the official.

First Published: Wed, September 13 2017. 14:59 IST