New Delhi, 11 February 2020
A group of Indian Diplomats working with Indian Missions in several EU Member States concluded a three-day EU Study Tour to Belgium during which they met with senior EU officials, EU policy experts and European academics.
The information visit, the first of its kind organized by the EU Delegation to India, was held in Brussels and Bruges from 4-6 February 2020. It saw nine Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officers engage with officials from the General Secretariat of the European Council, the European External Action Service, the European Commission and the European Parliament.
The diplomats participated in an academic seminar at the College of Europe in Bruges, a leading centre for European studies, and a round-table discussion with leading European think tanks on EU-India relations. They started their visit with a briefing by the Ambassador of India to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union, H.E. Mrs. Gaitri Issar Kumar.
The main objective of the tour was to offer to the Indian officers, first-hand knowledge of the EU’s institutions and policies through direct interaction with EU institutions and senior experts. Specific subject areas presented included the fundamentals of the EU Institutions, such as their composition, mandate and role; EU policy areas including foreign and security policy, trade, connectivity, climate change, energy and environment, and cooperation including via the Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI); and EU engagement with India.
Referring to the visit, EU Ambassador to India, H. E. Ugo Astuto, said, “I welcome this EU Study Tour which has provided a valuable opportunity to present the EU, its institutions and policies, whilst allowing EU officials to interact directly with their Indian counterparts on issues of strategic importance to the EU and India. I am sure the tour has helped raise the knowledge and interest of the participating officers in the European Union and this will contribute to strengthening our strategic partnership with India. We hope that this will be the first of many visits from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to Brussels and to our institutions."
The Ambassador of India to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union, H.E. Mrs. Gaitri Issar Kumar, commented: “We welcome the opportunity for our officers to visit Brussels and meet the relevant officials in the EU institutions and subject matter experts on EU–India relations. It was an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the roles of the EU Member States vis-à-vis the EU institutions and the distinct responsibilities of European Council, the European Commission, the European External Action Service and the European Parliament, which would be useful in the current and future engagement with the European Union and its individual institutions.”
The initiative was organised as part of the EU Policy and Outreach Partnerships in India (EUPOP India) project, with a view to enhancing interest in the EU and EU-India relations and supporting the strengthening of EU-India Strategic Partnership.
The EU, which consists of 27 countries, has the world's largest economy and its third largest population, after China and India. Though richly diverse, the countries that make up the EU (its 'Member States') are all committed to the same basic values: peace, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. By creating a frontier-free single market and a single currency (the euro) which has been adopted by 19 Member States, the EU has given a significant boost to trade and employment. It is also at the forefront of global policies on sustainability. Since 1999 the EU has also built a common foreign and security policy and it continues to make contributions to global crisis management. As of 2009, a High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy drives the EU's international action. The EU's common security and defence policy has been substantially strengthened since 2016.
Over 55 years the EU and India have worked together to reduce poverty, prevent disasters, expand trade, secure global public goods, enhance security around the world and promote joint research in energy, health, agriculture and many other fields of mutual interest. In 2018, the EU adopted a new Strategy for relations with India which was welcomed by New Delhi and feeds the preparations of the next EU-India Summit. More information at http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/india
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