In the future, the entire European Union and India would benefit largely from signing a free trade agreement between the two parties. The free agreement is on the table right now. I think it is indeed very important to strengthen the cooperation between the world’s two largest democracies.
Therefore, it was very gratifying that the Prime Minister of India His Excellence, Narendra Modi, just visited my home country Denmark this week. It is the first time in 20 years that an Indian Prime Minister is visiting Denmark, and I really do hope that this might be the start of a new era with India. It is both positive and timely that diplomatic relations with both Denmark and the European Union strengthen.
Right now, Denmark and the rest of Europe very much need a much closer relationship with the almost 1.4 billion inhabitants in India. It is a staggering number of people, and strengthened cooperation with India holds a huge untapped potential both economically, culturally and in terms of security policy. A good and productive relationship with India is fundamental when it comes to helping India boost its green transition. Therefore, I very much hope and endorse that a trade agreement between India and the EU must sign soon. As it will be both positive and exciting because increased cooperation with India can help strengthen stability and security in the world. These days this is in particular much needed.
I believe that both Denmark and Europe must create even better relations with an Indian society that works according to the rule of law – just like we do. Recent developments in Ukraine clearly emphasize that Europe needs to free itself as much as possible from states that neglect democracy, human rights and order. I have recently returned from a trip to New Delhi, in my capacity as chair of the EU Delegation for relations with India, I was reassured that we in Europe share more values with the great nation of India, than we do with China and Russia, for example. Most importantly, we agree that democracy is the only way forward, and both the EU and India are able to see the necessity and usefulness of a free trade agreement. A closer exchange of goods and services with India will also help to boost the collaboration between the two largest democracies.
Prime Minister Modi has stated that India must be CO2-neutral by 2070. This will of course be essential for India, but it will also be essential to help create economic growth to lift the Indian citizens out of poverty. Therefore, it is necessary that both Denmark and the rest of Europe offer India technology and solutions to create the transition. We owe it to the Indians, but also to the planet, our children, our grandchildren and ourselves.
Both in Denmark and in Europe, we deeply depend on ensuring stable partnerships with credible partners, and from my perspective, there is no doubt that India, both now and in the future, will be a country that can deliver the same products and services, as we receive from non-democratic states today. India might be the key to maintaining the life and values that we have fought for centuries in Europe.
Now is the time to be brave and honest and reach out to partners, who are committed to a rule-based society. We simply should not continue relying on countries that do not want to recognize basic human rights, and we should not continue collaborating with states that do not share our views on democratic values and respect for each other. Therefore, it is crucial that we in Europe recognize the potential and the opportunities in a strong, solid and above all mutual cooperation with India. For my part, I will do my very best to support India and the European Union on this journey.