Coronavirus: EU-India Summit Postponed

  • A new date for the summit will be announced at a suitable time in the future after consultations.
  • The EU was expected to take a clear stance on the recent riots in the Indian capital and the general human rights situation in the country.
  • New Delhi has breathed a sigh of relief as the European Parliament's resolution against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was delayed.

The European Union and India announced the cancellation of their planned summit due to the threat of the coronavirus. Furthermore, voting on a joint resolution submitted by the European Parliament against a controversial law amending Indian citizenship will be deferred until March 31.

The Citizenship Amendment Act protests, also known as the CAA and NRC protests, are ongoing protests taking place across India and overseas against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which was enacted into law on 12 December 2019, and against proposals to enact a nationwide citizenship registry. In a few days, the protests spread across India, though the concerns of the protesters vary.

In the Belgian capital, Brussels, European Union spokesman Peter Stano confirmed the cancellation of the EU-India Summit, which was scheduled to begin on the 13th of this month. He said that the decision was made after consultations with India regarding the spread of coronavirus. Stano added that a new date for the summit will be announced at a suitable time in the future after consultations.

The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Brussels was so important because he was expecting to meet with the heads of the European Council and the European Commission during the summit. These meetings were even more important as the EU was expected to take a clear stance on the recent riots in the Indian capital and the general human rights situation in the country. Stano reiterated that everyone has the right to protest peacefully, and that the EU does not recognize the restrictions on freedom of expression that India has placed on its citizens.

The European Union is India’s biggest trading partner in the world, but over the years there has been disagreement between the two countries on a free trade agreement. One of the reasons is that India levies additional taxes on European goods, and controversy over inclusion of human rights clauses that the European Parliament has agreed to in the previous draft of the agreement.

In the European Parliament on January 28, a resolution was submitted on a new controversial Indian citizenship law, which it strongly condemned. India, using diplomatic power, postponed a vote on the bill until the planned March 13 summit. The next vote will take place on March 31, during the EU plenary meeting in Strasbourg.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), also known as 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), and novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) is a viral respiratory disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It was first detected during the 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar presented the position of the government of India on this issue at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on February 17. The meeting also discussed the human rights situation in India. EU High Commissioner Joseph Burrell spoke at a press conference after the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Indian Citizenship Amendment Law

New Delhi has breathed a sigh of relief as the European Parliament’s resolution against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was delayed. The resolution, jointly presented by five major partisan groups with different political views, was discussed on January 29, after which the vote was to be held. However, after a debate in parliament, the vote was postponed until March.

In India, it is seen as a major diplomatic success, as India launched a massive diplomatic campaign to block the resolution. Among the 483 members in the European Parliament, 271 voted against it while 13 did not participate in the debate over the controversial citizenship law. The total number of members of the European Parliament is 751.

The Modi government had specifically instructed the Indian diplomats not to take any steps in removing the “misunderstandings” of the nature of the citizenship amendment law. The speaker of the lower house, the Lok Sabha in the Indian Parliament, also sent a letter to the European Parliament against the resolution, while the chairman of the upper house had expressed his resentment over the resolution.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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