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NEW DELHI: The India-European Union collaboration on sustainable connectivity, one of the key takeaways from the Leaders’ Summit on Saturday, involves cooperation on creating resilient and sustainable connectivity both in India and in third countries and regions, including Africa, Central Asia and the Indo-Pacific.

In India, the EU-India cooperation entails strengthening “the digital partnership by enhancing collaboration in digital connectivity... via submarine cables and satellite networks."

More significantly, it includes support for the “fast and effective roll-out of 5G on the basis of global standards," according to documents seen by Mint.

India recently allowed Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to conduct trials for the use and application of 5G technology. But it left out Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE from the 5G race in India. The inclusion of 5G in a joint document with the EU could suggest that New Delhi may be looking at European companies for partnerships in 5G roll out in India – seen as one of the key markets for the telecom business in the world.

The India-EU Connectivity collaboration also calls for developing a “joint vision and an aligned roadmap for beyond 5G technologies" and fostering “open, more secure, sustainable, interoperable, environmentally friendly and fair access to cloud services."

There was also provision for “resilient, secure and standards-compliant networks, stepping up collaboration on mitigating network risks and increasing joint efforts to promote an open, free, stable and secure cyberspace."

Creating an environment for boosting digital investments between India and the EU, leveraging opportunities for improving cross-border payments including remittances, between the EU and India is also accounted for under the terms of the India-EU connectivity cooperation.

The digital connectivity partnership between the two sides talks of enhancing “convergence between their regulatory frameworks to ensure a high level of protection of personal data and privacy." It also talks of recognizing that “convergence of data protection standards is important for setting global standards."

Data protection had been a key point of talks between India and the EU with officials deeming it as one of stumbling blocks in the talks on trade when dialogue tapered off in 2013.

The connectivity partnership provides for cooperation between the space agencies of India and the EU “to develop common satellite-based emergency warning services."

According to an EU statement, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, hailed the Connectivity partnership as a “new chapter" in ties.

“This Connectivity Partnership will guide our actions over the coming years, providing for joint efforts in creating a greener, more inclusive and prosperous future for the EU, India, and in regions around the world," Von der Leyen was quoted as saying.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell was quoted as saying that “there are rival models for development, infrastructure, trade and governance" – a comment that may be taken as referring to the model offered by China in connectivity ie the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative and 5G technologies that are seen as suspect given that Huawei and ZTE are seen as veritable arms of the state or the Chinese Communist Party.

“It (the Connectivity Partnership) provides for stability, financial and environmental responsibility, and brings direct benefits to the populations involved. India shares our vision, and we are looking forward to working together not just in our respective countries but also elsewhere, to help shape the world of tomorrow," Borrell said.

The India-EU Connectivity Partnership, the EU statement said, was the second such partnership to be concluded by the EU after the one with Japan in September 2019.

“The EU-India Connectivity Partnership covers cooperation in the digital, energy, transport, and people-to-people sectors. It is fundamentally rooted in support for the twin digital and green transitions, adherence to and development of international standards, as well as the shared norms and values of social, environmental, economic and fiscal sustainability and level playing field," the EU statement said.

“In the energy sector, work will focus on the implementation of the EU – India Clean Energy and Climate Partnership, with regulatory support complementing public and private activities on floating solar, offshore wind and energy storage, amongst others," the EU statement said.

The partnership reflected the commitment of both sides to international standards, ensuring a level playing field for their companies and reciprocal access to markets, it said. And promoting new financing options was central to the partnership, it added.

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