eu welcomes indian participation for its proposed connectivity projects worth 60 bn euros

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The EU, according to the paper, should seek opportunities in cooperation with India and other Asian partners to support cooperative and inclusive regional orders and integration

The European Union will welcome India’s participation in starting joint connectivity projects, including in third countries, under its proposed 60 billion Euro plan that aims to provide options beyond China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

“The EU is working on a proposal worth 60 billion euros for seven years for connectivity initiatives and would welcome suggestions from India to join this initiative,” EU ambassador to India Tomasz Kozlowski told ET following the launch of a strategy paper for India that emphasises on economically sustainable connectivity projects.

In an oblique critique of the BRI, the EU strategy paper refers to global connectivity projects. The EU and India share the view that the approach to connectivity should be environmentally, economically, socially and fiscally sustainable and provide a level playing field for businesses, while respecting international standards and enhancing governance. The paper is expected to suggest echoing India’s stand on the issue.

The EU, according to the paper, should seek opportunities in cooperation with India and other Asian partners to support cooperative and inclusive regional orders and integration, with a rules-based approach. This should include the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, ASEAN and the Indian Ocean Rim Association. Cooperation should be expanded with India on the promotion of common principles, including in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), such as on connectivity.

According to Kozlowski, the EU is ready to assist India with its connectivity projects in third countries. Some European companies are helping India in the strategic Chabahar port project in southeast Iran, the gateway to Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond, according to the EU envoy.

Kozlowski said the EU proposes to start a dialogue with India on partnership in African countries that would focus on projects based on local requirements and demands. Separately, Italy, France and the UK have shown interest in launching third-country projects in Africa in partnership with India on a bilateral basis.

China’s BRI is facing a push back in Africa, with some countries cancelling or going slow on projects due to the high levels of debt involved. Sierra Leone in West Africa recently scrapped a plan to build a China-funded $318 million airport outside the capital, Freetown. Ghana has cut its exposure to Chinese loans. Other countries in Western and Southern Africa have expressed concern that China’s funding pattern is pushing them towards a debt trap. African countries jointly owe China about $130 billion, according to the China-Africa Research Initiative.

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