The European Union (EU) and the Maldives discussed Maldives’ request to grant visa-free travel for Maldivian nationals to the EU Member States. The Maldives’ request for visa-free travel would be addressed when the next review of visa lists takes place. The discussion reflected the ongoing efforts to strengthen relations and promote greater connectivity between the EU and Maldives.
The Fourth Senior Officials Meeting between the EU and the Maldives was held in Brussels on 13 June 2023. The meeting reaffirmed the strong bilateral ties between the EU and the Maldives as the partners celebrate the 40th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. The EU and the Maldives confirmed their mutual interest to further strengthen and deepen the mutually beneficial cooperation rooted in shared values and commitment to the principles of the UN Charter and international law.
The EU congratulated the Maldives on its accession to the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and welcomed the country among the signatories of the new EU-OACPS Agreement, which will further enhance the EU-Maldives partnership as well as regional integration. The Maldives and the EU discussed how the accession to the new EU-OACPS agreement should provide a pathway for the Maldives to negotiate accession to the OACPS’ Eastern and Southern African Group’s interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, which provides for tariff-free access to the EU market, including for tuna products. The EU and the Maldives discussed the concrete steps in the coming months towards this end.
The EU and the Maldives also discussed further deepening their engagement through the implementation of the EU Strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. The EU expressed appreciation to Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid for his important contribution as a moderator and rapporteur for the Roundtable on Green Opportunities and Overcoming Global Challenges in the EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum held in Stockholm on 13 May 2023.
The EU stressed the importance of maintaining a continuous commitment towards the consolidation of democracy, the protection of human rights, the strengthening of the rule of law, and the fight against corruption, based on implementing reforms in the justice sector. In this regard, the EU reaffirmed its ongoing support to the Maldives’ efforts in consolidating democratic reforms and their implementation. The EU and the Maldives underlined the importance attached to the vibrant civil society, and freedom of expression and opinion as key foundations of democracy, essential to uphold in particular as the Maldives prepares for Presidential elections in September.
The EU and the Maldives agreed to continue close cooperation in the UN and all relevant multilateral fora to address global challenges such as peace and security, sustainable development, climate change and biodiversity loss, and water and plastic pollution. Likewise, they reaffirmed their commitment to work closely together on promoting human rights in multilateral fora, including through the Human Rights Council.
The EU and the Maldives discussed EU support under the 2021-2027 Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) focusing on some of the Maldives’ key development priorities such as green transition, climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity protection and circular economy. The EU also reaffirmed its commitment to support good governance, judiciary reforms and security. As an important step in this direction, during this Senior Officials Meeting, the EU and the Maldives signed the Financing Agreement of the new €5 million action providing support to enhance the rule of law and to reduce corruption in the Maldives.
The EU and the Maldives explored avenues to further enhance security cooperation, especially in areas of counterterrorism and preventing violent extremism, as well as in the maritime security domain.
As partners in trade and investment, the EU and Maldives will continue expanding their economic cooperation. The Maldives and the EU will explore synergies to adapt their Business Roundtable to the new context provided by the OACPS adhesion, to attract European investors and investments to the Maldives.
The EU and the Maldives are committed to the global fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and will continue their strong bilateral cooperation in this domain. During the meeting, they discussed the need for better cooperation and coordination to ensure sustainable management of fish stocks through the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission.
The EU and the Maldives welcomed the agreement on a UNCLOS implementing agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction or “Treaty of the High Seas” and are committed to its swift ratification and implementation.
The Fourth Senior Officials Meeting was co-chaired by Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Managing Director for Asia and Pacific at the European External Action Service, and Ahmed Khaleel, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.