EU-India Post-Crisis Strategic Partnership –Defining New Priorities

By Bianca Manelli
From left to right: Ivan Stefanec MEP, Srita Heide, Amit Gajwani, Puneet Chhatwal,Kai Ressler, Ambassador Ugo Astuto, Yatindra Sharma, Iuliu Winkler MEP, Marika Jakas

On Monday July 6th, SME Europe in cooperation with SME Connect organized the Virtual Meeting “EU-India Post-Crisis Strategic Partnership –Defining New Priorities” to discuss the future of the EU-India agenda as well as the path towards recovery in the light of the new global situation.

Moderated by Srita Heide, CEO of Heide International as well as SME Europe’s Representative for Diversity, the Virtual Meeting saw high-level speakers such as Ivan Stefanec MEP, Member Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, President SME Europe of the EPP; Iuliu Winkler MEP, Vice-Chair Committee on International Trade, Vice-President of SME Europe of the EPP; and H.E. Ugo Astuto, Ambassador of the European Union to India. 

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Ivan Stefanec MEP highlighted the importance of the partnership between two democratic actors like the European Union and India, remarking the variety of possible areas for cooperation – security and defense, sustainability and digitalization. Iuliu Winkler MEP reframed the topic within the bigger context of the upcoming Trade Policy Review, an opportunity to fully harness the potential of the strategic partnership between India and the European Union. In this regard, “the COVID-19 pandemic could give new momentum in our bilateral relations on trade and investment,” Winkler MEP stated.

Ambassador Astuto encouraged Europe to be more ambitious, to “build a greener, digital, just and resilient future” by reshaping our economy and taking advantage of the current shift in global supply chains to reach new markets and create new opportunities for SMEs and entrepreneurs, both European and Indian alike

After the contribution of our institutional panelists, representatives from the business and industry sector reported their experience dealing with COVID-19 and how the pandemic affected their business. Puneet Chhatwal, MD & CEO Indian Hotels Company Limited, stated that, notwithstanding the particular struggles the tourism and hospitality sector is facing, every crisis can be overcome thanks to the innovativeness and the commitment of the people. Amit Gajwani, Executive Vice President Cybage, commented on the urgency of digital skills and infrastructure to survive COVID19, a perspective that was mirrored by Yatindra Sharma, Managing Director KHS India, who remarked their applicability in the field of manufacturing technology. Lastly, Kai Ressler, Director Harbauer, reiterated the importance of the effective and continuous functioning of essential services like water treatment. 

The Virtual Meeting was closed by Marika Jakas, Head of Trade & Economic Affairs, EU Delegation to India. While discussing the EU-India strategic partnership and its future post COVID-19, she stated, “We have very good cooperation with India both in terms of policy at government level and in terms of business between corporations. Perhaps this crisis will bring even more opportunities.”