New Delhi, Feb 10: India and the European Union (EU) today decided to work together to improve energy security and collaborate in research and innovation and hoped to clinch soon the free trade pact whose contours were emerging.
“There are complex issues involved but we have both agreed to expedite discussions so that we can conclude an agreement at the very earliest,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at the 12th India-EU summit here.
Singh said both the sides have made considerable progress in the negotiations on the broad-based trade and investment agreement.
“We seek solutions that are practical, mutually beneficial and acceptable to both sides,” he said.
European Commission President Jose Barroso said the two sides have taken a “significant step forward” during talks to reach a free-trade agreement and negotiations should be completed late this autumn.
“Our positions are now closer in all areas and the contours of the final agreement are emerging. We have, therefore, committed to intensifying these negotiations. I expect the finalization of these negotiations this autumn,” he said.
India and the European Union have been negotiating a broad-based trade and investment deal since 2007.
However, talks are stuck on issues like easing visa regulations for Indian professionals and reduction in tariffs on cars and spirits imported from the EU.
A joint statement issued after the talks said Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht would monitor the progress of these negotiations for an early conclusion.