Sat, 24 Jul 2021

New Delhi [India], June 23 (ANI): Underlining the importance of digitisation in the post-Covid world, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday discussed said that connectivity in general and digital connectivity between India and the EU is a "fairly fertile area to be explored".

"Going forward, the areas that the two partners (India and the EU) would be looking at would be technology and artificial intelligence. Data security, cyber security and privacy, EU and their conversations with big tech were all issues of interest to India. Connectivity in general and digital connectivity, in particular, is a "fairly fertile area to be explored" between India and the EU," he said.

"Connectivity, data, technology even the climate challenge -- all of this is going to require us to work together more closely. We have crossed a threshold, we have seen more momentum more energy in the relationship," he added.

His remarks came while he was participating in a discussion on 'The future of India-EU relations' at a virtual event organised by Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

"We have just launched our connectivity partnership. Digital connectivity, energy connectivity, and human connectivity. On the physical connectivity the views of India broadly tally with the views of India," said Jaishankar.

Regarding human connectivity, Jaishankar said, "Knowledge economy will require flow of talent, more seamless we make that, we are helping ease of business, helping growth of creativity in respective societies.""We have migration and mobility partnership with different countries. Done some agreements with EU countries like France, we are looking at number of other countries, Portugal is one of them," said Jaishankar, adding, "Digital connectivity - is very much on our minds, we are looking at digital investment forum. We are looking at taskforce on AI."He laid stress on the buzzword connectivity, with several initiatives in the pipeline. He also discussed about the major pillars of India-EU connectivity, importance of digitisation post COVID-19 pandemic, leveraging digital connectivity, building data proposition networks - different than in the US, China and more attractive to Asians and Africans.

Portugese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva, who was also present in the event virtually, said India was one of EU's key partners in Asia, not China, which he described as a "selective partner," "competitor" and "systemic rival".

"The way we see institutions, the way we see political fundamentals, the way we see human rights, the way we see the role of civil society is very different when you see from the point of view of Brussels or when you speak from the view of Beijing," Silva said.

"That is why in these crucial areas our partner in Asia is not China, our partner in Asia is India," he said.

According to Silva, the European Union was paying less attention to India than it should have. The US, the UK and several European countries had prepared their national strategies for the Indo-Pacific region.

"We needed to focus on this issue at the European level. This (a EU level strategy for the Indo-Pacific) was the purpose of the (India-EU) Leaders' meeting that was held in virtual format in Porto last month. The main results of the India-EU summit were political -- the resumption of a high level dialogue between the two largest democracies, India and the EU, the improvement of sectoral partnerships that are very, very important, the connectivity partnership and the resumption of the free trade talks," he said.

On the question of waiver of patents related to vaccines, Silva said that the EU was of the view that innovation and research and development needed to be preserved given that there were predictions of future waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The EU had given one billion euros for scaling up vaccine production in Africa and a similar amount was being contemplated for Latin America, he said.

Jaishankar stressed that to scale up vaccine production to meet the challenges for inoculating the world, Europe needed to keep open supply chains as well as consider a waiver of patents as proposed by India and South Africa at the WTO.

The minister said that without "dramatically" scaling up production, the world would not be able to deal with the challenges of today. (ANI)

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