The news came on Saturday, the second day of an EU summit that saw a bilateral meeting between Europe and India, where authorities on Saturday said the pandemic killed 4,000 people in a single day.
While the local Covid-19 crisis cast a dark cloud over the summit, the key announcement was the resuming of talks for a wide-ranging free trade deal that have been suspended since 2013.
"The EU and India are opening a new important chapter in our relationship. We are the world's two largest democracies. We are natural partners," European Council chief Charles Michel said.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen hailed the decision to restart trade talks after an eight-year break as a "landmark moment".
During a video summit, EU leaders offered the Indian authorities further assistance amid a rampant epidemic in their country. So far, sixteen EU states, including Poland, have sent medical equipment and drugs worth an estimated 100 million euro to India as part of international efforts to help it fight against the flood of Covid-19 cases.
“Indian medics stress that the international community can help ensure oxygen cylinders and concentrators as well as drugs and vaccines [for India],” Prof. Joanna Zajkowska of the Medical University in Białystok, north-eastern Poland, told the Polish News Agency (PAP) on Sunday.
“They want more pressure put on their government that seems to have lost its way in the situation,” Zajkowska added. "Indian doctors believe that the Covid-19 crisis in their county is directly linked to the collapse of the local healthcare system," Zajkowska also said.
The Reuters news agency reported that a top official at India's External Affairs Ministry said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pushed the EU to support an Indian and South African proposal to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents, a move that the Polish PM was calling for during the Porto summit.
Source: PAP, Reuters, AFP