Marseilles (France), Sept.29 : The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, has begun an interaction with the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and European Union Commisioner Javier Solana, on the need for strengthening of ties between India and the European Union.
Sources said that co-operation on peace and security issues is high on the agenda of the Ninth India-EU Summit.
Climate change and the global economic crisis will also figure in the discussions.
Before the summit commenced, India and the EU inked a civil aviation pact that will pave the way for greater air connectivity and facilitate better travel facilities for passengers.
According to Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Commissioner for External Relations and the Neighbourhood Policy, the European Union views India as a vital partner.
"The importance we attach to the relationship is reflected in the establishment, in 2004, of the EU/India Strategic Partnership. For those less familiar with EU agreements with third countries, Strategic Partnerships are a kind of platinum version - the most comprehensive we can establish," she says in an article in the Indian daily, The Hindu.
An EU-India wide-reaching Trade and Investment Agreement is also currently being negotiated.
"We are convinced that it will further boost trade between our two economies. We are also setting up new mechanisms for discussing economic issues, with a particular focus on macroeconomics and financial services," Ferrero-Waldner said.
During the Summit, India and the European Union will sign a Horizontal Agreement on Civil Aviation. A similar pact on maritime transport cooperation is expected to be inked between the two countries at the end of the year.
India and EU will also use their deliberations at the two-day Summit to strengthen their political dialogue and step up development cooperation.
The EU remains a key partner in India's major centrally-sponsored schemes such as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the National Rural Health Mission.
With the broadening of the scope of economic, technical and scientific cooperation, both countries have also renewed the EU-India Science and Technology Agreement.
On October 1, another milestone will be reached when the newly established European Business and Technology Centre will commence operation, said Ferrero-Waldner, adding that its primary objective will be to "act as a vector for boosting commercial and research links" between Europe and India.
With the Nuclear Suppliers Group giving a waiver to India, the EU will seek to explore the possibility of working with India in the field of civil nuclear energy. An EU-India Energy Panel is already in place and the International Thermo-nuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) Agreement has come into force with India and the European Union as active partners.
According to Ferrero-Waldner, the Summit will also deliberate on an EU-India Joint Work Programme for Cooperation on Energy, Clean Development and Climate Change. By Naveen Kapoor