20TH POLITICAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN
THE GOVERNMENT OF ESWATINI AND THE EUROPEAN UNION
14 JUNE 2021
The Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini (KOE) and the European Union (EU) held on 14th June 2021 the 20th Political Dialogue reaffirming their commitment to the article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement. The dialogue covered areas including political and legislative matters, judicial independence, climate change commitments, trade and economy, investment, business environment and development cooperation issues.
The meeting was chaired by Eswatini’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Thuli Dladla, with the EU Ambassador to Eswatini, H.E. Esmeralda Hernandez Aragones being the co-chair. The Acting Prime Minister, Honourable Themba Masuku and other ministers of the KOE, senior officials and some EU Member States Ambassadors and senior representatives participated as well.
The parties reiterated their commitments to the shared values of their partnership based on democracy, rule of law and respect of human rights as stipulated by the art 9 of the Cotonou Agreement. The EU pledged support to the KOE to overcome the consequences of the pandemic.
POLITICAL AND LEGISLATIVE MATTERS
The Kingdom of Eswatini provided updated information on its report for the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process.
Several bills pertaining to media and freedom of expression were also discussed. The experience of the EU member states, including in the area of fighting disinformation, was found to be of particular relevance for the KOE.
The EU commended the Government of Eswatini for the implementation of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act (SODV) and encouraged the government to step up efforts in the area of education and training of law enforcement agencies to curb the scourge of violence against women and children. The non-discrimination of LGTBIQ people and the importance of an inclusive dialogue with the youth were also on the talks.
The exchange also focussed on the rule of law in the country, the accountability of government and the proportionate use of force by law enforcement agencies.
The Government presented a progress report on the Human Rights Bill, which marks an evolution in the operationalisation of the Human Rights Commission. As Eswatini has been voting for several years in favour of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the Moratorium of Executions, the EU encouraged the Government to consider formally abolishing the death penalty.
TRADE AND ECONOMIC MATTERS
The Parties exchanged on the country’s strategy for post-COVID-19 economic recovery and the expected cooperation of international development partners.
The discussions also covered the KOE’s progress on the African Continental Free Trade Area and the commitments the country took for fighting climate change. From the end of 2020, the Cotonou Agreement shall be replaced by a New Partnership Agreement.
INVESTMENT, BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION MATTERS
Between 2014 and 2020, the EU allocated more than €100 million (approx. SZL 1.8 billion) for the Kingdom of Eswatini. The EU programmes currently implemented are aligned with Eswatini’s development plans and support some of the economic reforms the Government considers fundamental for the country’s economic recovery. These programmes will, among other things, facilitate the integration of workers, micro-entrepreneurs or smallholders into local, regional or global value chains and support the setting up of a State-Business relations Secretariat. The EU encouraged Eswatini to stand by its climate commitments and steer towards renewable energy sources.
The Government presented its plans for improving the ease of doing business in the country. The EU welcomed these intentions and informed of its €11 million (approx. SZL 192 million) projects in support of a better business climate in the country. For the EU budgetary cycle 2021-2027, the parties have jointly identified potential sectors to receive EU support: green economy, development of human capital focused on youth and good governance with a focus on digitalization. These sectors reflect both Eswatini and EU’s priorities and interests.
NEXT POLITICAL DIALOGUE
The parties agreed that the next Political Dialogue will take place in the first half of 2022 possible under a new framework of partnership.
Mbabane, 14 June 2021