New Delhi, 3 October 2019: The new European Union Ambassador, H.E. Ugo Astuto presented his Letters of Credence to the Hon'ble President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, at an official ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan today.
"It is a great honour for me to represent the European Union in India and work for a strengthened strategic partnership between the two of the world’s largest democracies." Ambassador Astuto said on the occasion.
The European Union and India upgraded their long-standing relationship to a strategic partnership in 2004, based on their common goals and principles. Since then, the EU and India have been cooperating closely, reinforcing political, economic and people-to-people ties. This cooperation was further broadened at the last summit in 2017 and has received new momentum through the adoption of the EU's strategy on India, in November 2018.
Emphasizing the strong mandate he has received from Brussels to unlock the potential of the EU-India partnership in all its dimensions, the Ambassador said: "The EU and India can draw upon shared values of democracy and pluralism and their common belief in multilateralism to foster a co-operative approach to international relations, upholding the values and principles of the UN Charter. We look forward to further building on our collaboration to tackle key global challenges such as climate change and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.”
The EU and India enjoy strong trade and investment relations and are members of the G20, where they co-operate in shaping the global economic agenda, supporting sustainable development and the multilateral international trade system. The EU is also collaborating with India on several flagship initiatives such as Smart Cities, Clean Ganga, as well as in the context of the International Solar Alliance.
"My objective over the next few years is to further strengthen the well-established partnership and explore new avenues for cooperation with the Indian Government, based on each other's priorities and expectations," he added. “The fight against climate change is a common priority. We have much to gain by working together in the development of the digital economy, which offers great opportunities and challenges. We shall also further enhance our economic agenda, fostering trade and investments.”
Global challenges require global responses. The EU and India are strengthening their cooperation in political and security matters including counter-terrorism and cyber security. Cooperation in research and innovation, education and culture has also gained momentum in the last few years.
The Ambassador said: “The EU has developed a Strategy for Connectivity between Europe and Asia. India is an essential player in this respect. We can cooperate closely in the development of Eurasian connectivity, based on shared principles of transparency, inclusivity and sustainability."
Ambassador Astuto also paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary, recalling his universal messages of truth and non-violence.
About the Ambassador
He entered the Italian Diplomatic Service in 1991. His career in the Italian Foreign Service spans experience in the Embassies in Nairobi and London (including as alternate Director for Italy in the EBRD-European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), in the Permanent Representation in Brussels and in the Embassy in Delhi (2008-2012), where he served as Deputy Head of Mission. From February 2013 until July 2016 he was seconded to the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels, first as Director for South and South East Asia and then as Deputy Managing Director/Director for Asia and the Pacific. From July 2016 to September 2019 he was the Principal Director for Asia in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome.
About the European Union (EU):
The EU, which consists of 28 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. They have set up common institutions so that decisions on matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level. 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 policies on sustainability. EU-India relations over 50 years the EU and India have worked together to reduce poverty, prevent disasters, expand trade, and promote joint research, health, agriculture and many other fields of mutual interest.
The European Union and the Republic of India benefit from a longstanding relationship going back to the early 1960s. The Joint Political Statement of 1993 and the 1994 Co-operation Agreement, which is the current legislative framework for cooperation, opened the door to a broad political dialogue, which has evolved through annual Summits, regular ministerial and senior-officials meetings as well as expert gatherings. In 2004 India became one of the EU’s strategic partners. Since 2005, a Joint ction Plan, revised in 2008, is helping to realize the full potential of this partnership in key areas of interest for India and the EU. Current efforts are centred on: developing cooperation in the security field; migration and mobility issues; ongoing negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement; implementation of the Joint Work Programme on Energy, Clean Development and Climate Change adopted at the 2008 Summit and reaffirmed by a Joint Declaration for Enhanced Cooperation on Energy in 2012; and cooperation in scientific research and innovation (Joint Declaration adopted by the 2012 Summit).
The European Union is India's largest trading partner accounting for nearly €125 billion in trade in goods and services. Bilateral trade has more than doubled in the last decade and the EU remains the most important export destination of Indian exports of both goods and services. Furthermore, The EU is the largest investor in India with US$ 81.5 billion of cumulative FDI, accounting for 15% of total FDI inflows into India in FY2017-18. Close to 6000 EU companies are present in India collectively providing direct employment to 1.7 million workers and indirect employment to 5 million.