A fresh start for the Europe-India relationship

Smt. Sumitra Mahajan, the Speaker of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha, led a group of Indian MPs to the European Parliament on 23/24 June.

This was the first such visit in nearly two decades. The visit was prompted by an invitation delivered in March by Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, chairman of the delegation for relations with India, on behalf of the President of the European Parliament.

The Indian parliamentarians were greeted in the gallery of the European Parliament and had opportunities for detailed exchanges of view with MEPs from many countries. They also met members of the business and Indian community based in Brussels and visited the Menin Gate and Indian graves among the Commonwealth War Graves at Ypres.

The visit comes at a critical time when efforts are being made to reinvigorate the EU-India relationship.

As the Speaker of the parliament of the world's largest democracy, Smt. Mahajan expressed pleasure at the meeting with MEPs representing some half billion people from 28 nations across Europe. She described the successes of the new government in India of Prime Minister Modi and the priorities for the coming period including the Goods and Services Tax, Smart Cities and Clean Ganges projects, and she spoke of the need for more trade with the EU and European countries.

Geoffrey Van Orden MEP commented: "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. Mr. Modi's premiership has given fresh confidence, not only within India, but towards India on the part of the business and financial interests in our own countries. 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."

Note to Editors:
The Indian Delegation included Dr M S Gill MP, Shri Satish Chandra Misra MP, Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal MP, Shri Gajanan Chandrakant Kirtikar MP, Shri Sharad Tripathi MP, Smt Kabitha Kalvakuntla MP and Shri Anoop Mishra, Secretary General of the Lok Sabha.

They met Martin Schulz MEP, President of the European Parliament, Geoffrey Van Orden MEP (Cons-UK) Chairman of the Delegation for Relations with India, and Vice Chairmen Neena Gill MEP (Lab-UK) and Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Lib-NL) as well as David Campbell-Bannerman MEP (Cons-UK), rapporteur for the EU-India Free Trade Agreement, Jo Leinen MEP (SPD- D), Chairman of the Delegation for Relations with China, and many other MEPs.

A key role in the visit was played by the Indian Ambassador to the EU, HE Manjeev Singh Puri.



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