Sumitra Mahajan visit signals fresh start in EU-India relations

Brussels, June 26 (IANS) The Indian parliamentary visit to Brussels came at a critical time when efforts are being made to reinvigorate the European Union-India relationship.

The first visit of a Lok Sabha speaker to Brussels in nearly two decades was a sign that both the EU and India were keen on strengthening their relationship.

Sumitra Mahajan, who led a group of Indian parliamentarians concluded her four-day visit on Friday after holding discussions with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and Belgian lawmakers.

Her visit was prompted by an invitation delivered in March by Geoffrey Van Orden, chairman of the delegation for relations with India, during a visit to New Delhi, on behalf of President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.

The Indian lawmakers also met members Indian community based in Brussels and Antwerp — an international port city on Belgium’s River Scheldt — and also visited and Indian graves in the Commonwealth War Graves in the Belgian city of Ypres.

Analysts note that the Indian parliamentary visit came at a critical time when efforts were being made to reinvigorate the EU-India relationship.

Mahajan expressed pleasure at the meeting with MEPs representing some half billion people from 28 nations across Europe.

She described the success Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in India and the priorities for the coming period and spoke about the need for more trade between India and the European countries.

Geoffrey Van Orden said in a press statement: “Parliamentarians have shown that they can play a key role in injecting new energy into the relationship with India, a most vital friend and partner that will play an increasing role in world affairs in the years to come.”

“We now need to make rapid progress in conclusion of a free trade agreement and we look forward to a Summit before the end of the year. This visit is a major step forward and we need to build on the momentum that has been created,” said the British MEP.

The Indian Delegation included M.S. Gill, Satish Chandra Misra, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Gajanan Chandrakant Kirtikar, Sharad Tripathi, Kavitha Kalvakuntla and Anoop Mishra, Secretary General of the Lok Sabha.

The Indian parliamentarians met Martin Schulz, Geoffrey Van Orden, Neena Gill, and other MEPs.

They also attended a reception hosted by Indian Ambassador to the EU, Manjeev Singh Puri, who played a key role in organising the visit.


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