“One area where we can and need to do more together, is in the area of counter terrorism and security,” Singh in a speech on “What next for EU-India relations?” said at the Horasis India Meeting in Cascais, Portugal, on Monday.
“The last India-EU summit was held in Brussels on March 30, barely a week after the horrific terror attacks in Brussels,” he said.
“It painfully underscored the need for greater support and synergy in combating the rising threat of terrorism.”
Horasis is an international think tank based in Zurich, Switzerland, and holds invitation-only meetings with global leaders with focus on China, India and the Middle East.
Singh said that India and the EU should cooperate not only at the bilateral level but also at the international level in the fight against terrorism.
“We believe that we need to cooperate more robustly not only at the bilateral and operational levels, but also in putting in place a much-needed counter-terrorism global policy framework at the United Nations, beginning with a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that does not distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorists,” he said.
Stating that the India-EU relationship has grown considerably, he said today the EU has emerged as a key international partner for India.
“It is India’s largest trade partner and export destination with our total trade touching $126 billion. The EU is also the largest investor in India contributing about 26 per cent of India’s total FDI inflow,” Singh stated.
Stating that the EU has emerged as a leading partner in India’s transformative socio-economic agenda, he said: “The EU and its member states are actively collaborating with us in our ambitious flagship initiatives – whether it is building Smart Cities in India, creating a Digital India, Make in India, Skill India, Start Up India, Maritime India or the Clean Ganga initiative.”
Singh also stated that India’s young population could fulfill the human resource needs of the EU countries.
“One such exciting area for future collaboration based on our complementarity is in leveraging to mutual benefit, India’s profile as the future human resource powerhouse of the world,” he said.
Sixtyfive per cent of India’s population is below the age of 35 years which is over 800 million and more than 1.5 times the entire population of the EU, Singh noted.
He said, “As the demographic profile of Europe changes, the gap between the availability of skilled work force and the numbers required to maintain current productivity and efficiency levels would increase.”
“The European Union could clearly benefit by drawing upon the services of India’s young workers and professionals, who are acknowledged the world over for their scientific, engineering and managerial skills, work ethic and ability to integrate smoothly in all societies.”
Singh said India would benefit from a more friendly and smooth visa regime for such legitimate workers.
He said the EU, through its convening power, was uniquely placed to contribute and “add value” to India’s growth.
“The EU can provide a valuable forum to bring together the combined competencies and resources of its member states in each sector of its collaboration with India,” he said.
“Two excellent examples of this are the India-EU Water Partnership and the Clean Energy and Climate Partnership, which seek to leverage the specific competencies of individual EU member states, businesses, academia and civil society to optimally partner India in the priority sectors of water and energy.”
Referring to Britain’s exit from the EU, the minister said India respected the verdict of the British people and stood committed to further strengthening its multifaceted ties with both the EU and Britain.
“As for the Indian economy, we are well prepared to deal with the short and medium term consequences of Brexit,” Singh stated.
“Our macro-economic fundamentals are sound and focused on maintaining stability with a very comfortable external position, a rock-solid commitment to fiscal discipline, and declining inflation.” he said.