M A I N   N E W S

India differs with EU on Pak policy
Commits $ 3b for navigation system
Rajeev Sharma and Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 29
India and the 15-member European Union at their fourth summit here today decided to work closely on the $ 3 billion Galileo project, the upcoming international satellite navigation system which would change the face of Indian infrastructure once it is implemented in five years.

A major achievement of the one-day political summit was India and the EU agreed to remain in touch on the evolution of their respective foreign, security and defence policies. Both sides also noted the draft EU Security Strategy paper and in this context agreed on further consultations as key partners for a strategic security relationship.

The high point of the summit was the Galileo project. Official sources told The Tribune that India had committed $ 300 million for the project, as against China’s $ 200 million.

The project strategic overtones too as this would effectively counter the US-controlled global positioning system (GPS). As against the military-controlled GPS, the Galileo would be the first such system in the world to be fully under civil control. It would be operated and maintained by the European Space Agency.

Thirty satellites would be launched under the people-oriented project, which would navigate buses, trucks, ships and trains and their movement and position could be monitored all over the country.

After their summit, EU President Romano Prodi and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee addressed a joint press conference, in which the two leaders made pointed references to the Galileo project. Mr Prodi said the project not only meant “a big technological jump,” but was important politically as well.

However, the two sides agreed to disagree on India’s policy towards Pakistan as the EU expressed the hope that the Indo-Pak detente would be continued to resolve differences between the two neighbours, while the Indians stuck to their oft-repeated stand of no dialogue till Pakistan stops terrorism.

This was clearly reflected in the joint press statement which was released by the two sides at the end of the summit.

A relevant quote from the statement: “The EU welcomed the ceasefire recently agreed upon between both parties as a further step towards the normalisation of India-Pakistan relations. The EU expressed the hope that the process could be continued and differences between the two countries resolved peacefully through dialogue.

Another dampner came for India from the EU when Mr Prodi, in response to a pointed question of the EU stand on the Indian claim over the UN Security Council seat, did not give any commitment to India. He simply said it was too complex an issue to be decided “one case by one case”.

Earlier in the day, India flashed the card of economic diplomacy to the European Union, ahead of the WTO General Council meeting in Geneva next month, and laid down the broad contours of the Indo-EU relations within the larger paradigm of competitive economics.

“The emotive arguments about migration of jobs to countries like India have missed two basic points. The first is that this outsourcing is increasing the competitiveness and global reach of European and American companies.” Mr Vajpayee said while addressing a special plenary session at the Indo-EU business summit.

The second point, as pointed out by the Prime Minister, pertained to the barriers to free movement of people.

“If there is a more liberal regime of free movement of businessmen and professionals between India and Europe, this demand can be met within your countries. In the absence of such a liberal regime, outsourcing is inevitable,” he said.

Mr Vajpayee also sought to open the debate on developmental issues in the aftermath of the Cancun WTO Ministerial.

“We have to recognise that unless the developmental concerns of the poor countries are taken into account, popular support for economic liberalisation will collapse in developing countries. This could have disastrous consequences for our future discussions on the international trading regime,” Mr Vajpayee said at the meeting attended by top industrialists and diplomats.

Flanked by External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, the Prime Minister likened the WTO to a “chariot pulled by many horses”.

Mr Vajpayee also touched upon the contentious agriculture issues under the WTO and buttressed the stand taken by India and other developing countries on the premise that the livelihood of millions of people of these countries came from the rural economy.

EU President Prodi said that for India, EU’s enlargement would mean a single set of trade rules, single tariff and a single set of administrative procedures.

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