7th EU-Seychelles Political Dialogue: Strong partnership for prosperous, sustainable and peaceful future
Victoria – The Seventh Political Dialogue meeting between the Republic of Seychelles and the European Union was held today at the Eden Bleu hotel in Victoria. The Vice-President of Seychelles, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Vincent Meriton, accompanied by six Ministers and over twenty high level and technical officials, and the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Seychelles, H.E. Vincent Degert, accompanied by representatives from eleven EU Member States and the Deputy Commander of EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta, held open and constructive discussions on key topics of mutual interest including good governance, sustainable fisheries and blue economy, trade and investment, environment protection and climate change, as well as maritime security and regional cooperation. They reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen their partnership to promote ecologically sustainable and inclusive solutions, and to contribute to peace and stability in the region.
The Vice President of Seychelles, in his welcoming address, highlighted that:
The Political Dialogue is -“a testimony of our engagement towards strengthening the cooperation that exists between Seychelles and the European Union.The EU has been closely associated with the development and diversification of our economy- and -remains a safe anchor and vital link for a modern and forward looking Seychelles”.
In his opening statement, the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Seychelles, H.E. Vincent Degert declared:
“- The EU is determined to continue working closely together with Seychelles in a wide range of fields where EU brings added value and has a strong comparative advantage. It is notably the case when it comes to helping to address Seychelles environmental vulnerability and promoting sustainable solutions for its development, partnering on maritime security and regional cooperation, developing blue economy, increasing trade, and creating transparent and predictable business environment. The institutional capacity building that the EU is providing will help Seychelles to tackle corruption, money laundering and other forms of financial crime.’
The EU and Seychelles exchanged on the evolution and reforms that have taken place in Seychelles during the past year.
The EU and Seychelles discussed the legislative agenda of the Government, in particular the measures taken with the view to strengthening the key institutions and to mainstreaming women’s rights. They recognised the importance of close collaboration with civil society. The EU and Seychelles also exchanged on how to cooperate further at international fora, in particular with regard to the key human rights initiatives. Seychelles thanked the EU for support to the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles and to the Attorney General’s office. The EU and Seychelles discussed the support to other key institutions such as the Financial Intelligence Unit or the National Bureau of Statistics. The EU commended Seychelles on prioritising governance as one of the pillars of the National Development Strategy and called for a consistant track record with regards to the fight against corruption.
Seychelles and EU identified the issue of drug abuse and trafficking as the key priority which needs to be tackled in a comprehensive manner.
Seychelles provided information on the policies and actions to deal with the drugs problem. Seychelles thanked the EU for its support through the regional programmes, study trips, and a grant to civil society in this field. The EU expressed willingness to extend further its support.
The EU congratulated Seychelles for its environmental conservation efforts and encouraged Seychelles to preserve its unique natural heritage and to maintain environmental considerations at the centre of its development strategy for all sectors.
The EU reafirmed its preoccupation in relation to the vulnerability of small island developing states and coastal populations. The EU and Seychelles analyzed ongoing joint work in multiple fields: the EU experts are notably helping to define key environmental policies including the preparation coastal management plan; EU funds are being used to address flooding and erosion in the coastal zones, supporting energy transition, waste management, and the protection of marine biodiversity. The EU stressed that it is mainstreaming climate change and environment protection in all its projects. The EU also informed about the new allocationdedicated to the reinforcement of the negotiation capacity of West Indian Ocean and African SIDS at international fora, such as COP25.
The EU and Seychelles welcomed the strenthening of their bilateral relations with the successful conclusion of a new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) and its Implementing Protocol in October 2019.
They underlined that the SFPA is an innovative agreement for a comprehensive partnership between Seychelles and EU, benefitting equally to both Parties andsetting the new rules for the next six years period (2020-2025). It encompasses conservation, sustainable fisheries and social and economic returns for the people of Seychelles. The SFPA provisions will comfort Seychelles into a leading position as one of the main exporters of tuna products in the European market. The EU and Seychelles reafirmed their engagement towards a fruitful cooperation in the fisheries sector, ocean governance and blue economy. This cooperation is based on common visions and shared perspectives for the future, in line with the commitments taken at the Our Ocean Conference. They also agreed to collaborate more closely in the context of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and to strengthen the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The EU and Seychelles agreed that investment and business climate will be important area for collaboration in the coming years in the context of the implementation of the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and its deepening.
The EU praised Seychelles’ important contribution to achieving an agreement on the joint scoping paper in the context of the deepening of the EPA, officially launched in October 2019, which is in line with the EU-Africa Alliance and a building block towards continental integration. Seychelles thanked the EU, its first trading partner, for the technical assistance provided under the EPA programme, officially launched at the margins of this Political Dialogue with all stakeholders. The EU and Seychelles also noted the importance of the Port Victoria rehabilitation and extension project funded by the EU grant and loans from the European Investment Bank and the Agence Française de Développement. This strategic project will increase the port’s capacity, boost competitiveness, create jobs and promote access of local consumers to cheaper goods.
The EU and Seychelles discussed their cooperation in the field of taxation and the fight against money laundering with a view to promoting the legal and regulatory environment in line with international standards.
The EU encouraged Seychelles to tackle remaining issues which have been identified by the competent bodies, with a view to providing an adequate legal framework, strenthening of key institutions and carrying out effective investigations, prosecutions and ultimately convictions for money laundering cases. The EU and Seychelles agreed on ensuring timely exchange of information and close mutual legal assistance with regards to international crimes.
The EU and Seychelles underlined that ensuring maritime security and maintaining freedom of navigation is their shared priority in the Indian Ocean region.
Despite the sharp decrease in pirates’ activity along the coast of Somalia, the EU and Seychelles agreed that the risk is there and they need to remain vigilant. The EU thanked Seychelles for a solid partnership in this field, for ensuring legal finish on piracy cases, and for allowing regular port visits for EUNAVFOR flagships. The EU and Seychelles expressed strong concern with the release of convicted pirates by Somaliland in breach of the transfer agreement. They reafirmed their determination to making sure that the system which they created together would be preserved. Seychelles thanked the EU and its Member States for an important role played by the EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta, and for various EU regional programmes in the field of maritime security.
The EU and Seychelles exchanged views on the functioning and the future of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC). The EU congratulated Seychelles for its dynamic presidency of the IOC. The EU and Seychelles also discussed the Post-Cotonou negotiations and expressed their engagement towards the transformation of the agreement into a modern political framework for their partnership.
H.E. Vincent Meriton, the Vice-President of Seychelles, led the Seychelles delegation comprising of: Minister for Family Affairs, Mrs. Mitcy Larue, Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Mr. Charles Bastienne; Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate, Mr. Wallace Cosgrow; Minister for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, Minister for Health, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam, and Minister for Education and Human Resource Development, Mrs. Jeanne Simeon.
The Ambassador of the European Union, H.E. Vincent Degert, led the EU party. He was accompanied by the Ambassadors of 8 Member States: Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Spain, The Netherlands; and Deputy Heads of Mission from Hungary, Slovak Republic, Sweden, as well as Deputy Commander of EU NAVFOR Atalanta.
The European Union and the Republic of Seychelles have a solid partnership which started in 1977. During four decades, Seychelles has received €40 million in development aid from the European Union under successive European Development Funds, covering various sectors, from Environment to Economic reform programme and Education. For 2014-2020, Seychelles has received an allocation of €10 million to implement the Economic Partnership Agreement which adds to the bilateral envelope of €2.2 million. Seychelles also benefits from several other EU instruments including regional programmes, the Common Security and Defence Policy (EUVAFOR Operation Atalanta), the Global Climate Change Alliance and thematic budget lines for Environment and Non State Actors. The European Union-Seychelles partnership not only covers Development, Investment or Trade, but also an increasingly close cooperation in the areas of Maritime Security, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goals. The European Union remains Seychelles’ top trading partner. The EU is also Seychelles’ largest source of tourists’ arrivals.
Article 8 Political Dialogue:
The political dialogue under Cotonou covers a broad range of topics, essentially “all aims and objectives” laid down in the Agreement. As such, Article 8 seeks to focus the dialogue on specific political issues of mutual concern, including the regular assessment of progress regarding respect for human rights, democratic principles, the rule of law and good governance.
The First EU-Seychelles Political Dialogue took place in Victoria in 2012.
The European Union:
The European Union is a unique economic and political union between 28 European countries that together cover much of the continent. Today, the EU has a total population of more than 500 million. Within the EU market, people, goods, services and capital move without any barriers. Euro, which is the single currency adopted by 19 Member States, is used each day by over 300 million people. Main institutions include the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers, and the European Commission. Since the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, the EU has a High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security who heads the European External Action Service. With 139 delegations and offices, the European External Action Service is one of the world’s largest diplomatic services.