EU’s Noble Gesture

Although negotiations between India and the European Union (EU) over a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) have remained deadlocked since 2013, the 28-member bloc is trying hard to bolster ties with the South Asian nation.
The EU recently announced that it would release EUR 25 million for school education sector in India. EU Ambassador to New Delhi Tomasz Kozlowski said earlier this week that member countries of the Union were ready to back various government-sponsored schemes, like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), in India.
The seasoned Polish diplomat informed the Indian media that the amount is a part of the final tranche of a total of EUR 80 million that would be sanctioned by the EU to support educational schemes in different countries. “This brings to a conclusion the EU’s sector support to school education in India, to which it has contributed over EUR 520 million in grant funding,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the ambassador recalled that India’s first development partner in education sector was the EU, as the bloc took part in District Primary Education Programme in 155 Indian districts in 1994. “As the number of children being enrolled in and completing primary school rose, we extended our support to the ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ for elementary education up to Grade VIII in 2002, and the RMSA for secondary education in 2012,” added Kozlowski.

As far as the EU-India FTA is concerned, some analysts believe Brexit will make it easier for the European bloc to strike a trade deal with India. In May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel advised the EU to sign a big free trade deal with India as soon as possible. During her meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Berlin, the leader of the world’s fastest-growing major economy said that Germany would revive efforts to conclude the EU-India FTA. “It’s important for us to proceed with the German-Indian – or rather, the EU-Indian – free trade agreement,” Merkel told Modi.

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