Seychelles and the EU hold Sixth Political Dialogue
The Sixth 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, accompanied by five Ministers and the Attorney General, and the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Seychelles, H.E. Marjaana Sall, accompanied by representatives from fifteen EU Member States, held discussions on a wide range of issues related to governance, international cooperation, investment and business climate, blue economy, climate change and maritime security. They reaffirmed their determination to further strengthen the EU-Seychelles partnership and highlighted several concrete initiatives which will benefit the people of Seychelles.
The Vice-President of Seychelles, in his welcoming address, highlighted that “-the increased participation from the EU member states in this year’s dialogue … signals the strong relationship between the European Union and Seychelles”. He further added:
“I am pleased with the commencement of negotiations on the Post Cotonou Agreement, Seychelles would like to call on the EU to give special consideration to the specific needs of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). We would also like to call on your support in recognising the importance of a SIDS-specific resilience index”.
In her opening statement, the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Seychelles, H.E. Marjaana Sall declared:
“- Seychelles is an important and valued partner of the European Union in a strategic region. We are determined to continue working closely together in a wide range of fields: maritime security, blue economy, climate change and regional economic integration to name but a few. The EU stands by Seychelles and works hand in hand with the Government to address global challenges and promote common interests. During today’s dialogue, we seek to reaffirm our shared interest in supporting peace and stability in the region, and the importance of acting together internationally as partners for multilateralism.“
Seychelles and the EU reiterated that they are like-minded partners who will act together to promote rules-based international order and multilateralism.
The EU welcomed Seychelles’ recent initiatives in the field of governance and human rights, such as the adoption of the Access to Information Act and the Seychelles Human Rights Commission Act, and encouraged Seychelles to continue playing an active role at the United Nations and African Union level on these issues. Seychelles confirmed that it shares with the EU a strong commitment to a rules-based global order and that it will act with the EU as partner for multilateralism. The EU confirmed that promoting agreed rules, peaceful and sustainable solutions will be at the heart of the new framework replacing the Cotonou Agreement. In this context, the EU reaffirmed that in the future agreement a specific attention will be paid to the vulnerability and fragility challenges faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and costal populations, especially the threat posed by climate change.
Seychelles and the EU agreed on the importance of solid and independent institutions. The EU reaffirmed continuous support to social and economic development of Seychelles and announced support for capacity building of State institutions and for fight against drugs.
The EU referred to its flagship programmes in Seychelles: the Port Victoria extension and rehabilitation project (SCR 77 million from EU grant and SCR 447 million from the Agence française de developpement and European Investment Bank loans) and Economic Partnership Agreement implementation programme of SCR 154 million. Together these two projects will help to further boost investment and trade, lower costs of goods for local consumers and support regional integration. Further to the discussions during the last year’s Political Dialogue, the EU provided two grants, SCR 4.6 million each, to civil society organisations, in the area of combatting gender based violence, addressing drugs problem and fighting corruption. During this year’s dialogue, Seychelles and EU discussed the priorities for further assistance offered by the EU for capacity building of State institutions and for fight against drugs.
Seychelles and the EU agreed that attracting international investors requires a stable and transparent investment and business environment.
The EU welcomed a number of promising recent developments in Seychelles (adoption of legislations, Investment Policy, creation of the High Level Doing Business Committee, as well as the move to digitalise the investment and business approval processes) to bring about more transparency and predictability in a bid to improve the ease of doing business and build investor confidence. The EU remains Seychelles’ number one trading partner, and its largest export market. Such good relations are possible thanks to the Economic Partnership Agreement which offers Seychelles’ exports complete quota free and duty free access to the EU market of 500 million consumers. The EU and Seychelles reaffirmed that after eight years of implementing the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA), their trade relations are solid and to be further developed in the context of the EPA deepening process. Concerning the latter, both sides expressed their commitment.
Seychelles and the EU reaffirmed that ocean governance, including fisheries, blue economy and maritime security is a cornerstone of their partnership.
Seychelles thanked the EU for taking a leading role on ocean governance and shared its commitment to ensure protection of the marine ecosystems. EU and Seychelles reaffirmed their interest in pursuing the Fisheries Partnership Agreement and in launching the negotiations for the successor agreement in the first half of 2019, bearing in mind their shared interests in long term sustainability and in building cooperation on the principles of Blue Economy. In this regard, they agreed to better align their positions in areas of common interest at the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission. They also expressed commitment to working together on exploring numerous opportunities in blue economy. They reaffirmed their firm partnership in the area of maritime security and expressed their determination to make the Regional Centre for Operational Coordination (RCOC) based in Seychelles fully functional as soon as possible.
Seychelles and the EU agreed on unprecedented urgency to step up global response to climate change.
The dialogue confirmed that the EU and Seychelles are like-minded partners on climate issues and will work together towards a success outcome of COP24. Seychelles informed the EU about its action plan for the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contribution and its plans to attract the necessary funding. The EU is a solid partner of Seychelles for a climate change adaptation. One of the key components of its programme of SCR 46.2 million is the prevention of flooding on La Digue Island which will benefit local communities.With a grant of SCR 33.8 million, the EU has also financed a solid waste landfill at Providence. During today’s dialogue, the EU announced that it agreed to finance a master plan for the solid waste sector.
H.E. Vincent Meriton, the Vice-President of Seychelles, led the Seychelles delegation comprising of: Designated Minister MacSuzy Mondon; Minister for Family Affairs, Mitcy Larue; Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Charles Bastienne; Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate, Wallace Cosgrow; Minister for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne; and, Attorney General Frank Ally.
The Ambassador of the European Union, H.E. Marjaana Sall, led the EU party. She was accompanied by the Ambassadors of 11 Member States: Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, United Kingdom; and Deputy Heads of Mission/Consuls from Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark and Finland, 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 more than four decades, Seychelles has received EUR 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 SCR 154 million to implement the Economic Partnership Agreement which adds to the bilateral envelope of SCR 33.9 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 a 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. Ms. Federica Mogherini is the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.