The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, the Honourable Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, and the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius, H.E. Marjaana Sall, accompanied by representatives from four Member States – the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Spain, today held discussions on the current and future partnership between the European Union and Mauritius.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, the Honourable Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, in his welcoming address highlighted:
- “The Political Dialogue is based on consensus between Mauritius and the EU. Considering the changes taking place at global level, Mauritius needs to take note, adapt and act according to those changes. There is a need to further strengthen our relations with the European Union.
As we are looking forward to the deepening of the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Mauritius is approaching other countries to join same. The EPA is a platform where regional integration will move forward. There is a need for all parties to ensure that this important instrument becomes a full-fledged partnership agreement. Regarding Africa, we need to encourage more private sector investment so as to address the issue of unemployment of the youth.
On the Post Cotonou 2020, we need to ensure that the interests of Mauritius, as a Middle Income Country and SIDS is secured. Mauritius is a strong proponent for ensuring that the ACP negotiate as a unified group in the forthcoming Post Cotonou Negotiations."
In her opening statement, the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius, H.E. Marjaana Sall said:
- "Today's dialogue is taking place in a year of particular significance with Mauritius celebrating 50 years of Independence. I am glad to say that the EU has accompanied Mauritius over the last decades and that our shared interests and shared values allow us to cooperate on a solid basis and to further expand our partnership. The EU remains Mauritius' biggest trading partner and the Economic Partnership Agreement between Mauritius and the EU will surely keep advancing our economic links. We discussed in detail how to further strengthen our partnership in a number of important areas, with particular regard to deepening our collaboration to promote a global order based on multilateralism and the respect for human rights."
The Parties expressed satisfaction with the enhanced cooperation that has been taking place over the last year in the areas of gender and climate change as a result of the decisions taken at the last year's political dialogue. Dedicated policy dialogues have now been established between the EU and Mauritius in these two areas and have already produced tangible results.
Recognizing the key importance of gender equality and empowerment for socio-economic development, Mauritius and the EU have in May signed a Joint Monitoring Framework on Gender and the EU has provided technical assistance for the elaboration of the Gender Equality Bill, the Children's Bill, and the Adoption Bill.
On climate change, Mauritius and the EU agreed on the next steps for furthering their cooperation on implementing the Paris-agreement and on upholding the National Determined Contributions (NDCs). A high level policy dialogue on Climate Change will take place by the end of June 2018.
The Parties furthermore addressed a range of topics in the area of governance, rule of law and human rights. The EU raised issues in relations to: provisional charges, electoral reform, freedom of information, financing of political parties, and the rights of the LGBTI persons. The EU praised Mauritius for its overall performance with regard to the advancement of human rights and encouraged it to take further steps ahead of the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council. The EU asked the Government to continue to ensure the appropriate guarantees to exercise the freedom of expression and assembly of all citizens including the LGBTI Community without fear or intimidation.
Mauritius recalls the importance of dialogue on all human rights issues.
The Parties agreed that their shared values should be considered as a basis for speaking with one voice in matters that concern the advancement of a rules-based global order with multilateralism as its key feature and the UN at its core. They agreed to work together in multilateral fora and to promote human rights in their respective regions. The EU invited Mauritius to join the 'Initiative to Stop the Trade in Goods Used for Capital Punishment and Torture' that was launched last year at the UN General Assembly. Mauritius confirmed that it will participate as an observer at the forthcoming meeting in Brussels.
In discussing the economic and trade issues, the EU expressed its esteem for the positive developments with regard to ease of doing business in Mauritius. The Parties expressed satisfaction with their cooperation in fostering economic growth notably through the launching of the new e-licensing platform for businesses in Mauritius that is co-funded by the EU. Regarding financial services, the Parties agreed that efforts should be continued to increase transparency and fairness of taxation in the financial sector.
Mauritius also shared further details of its Africa Strategy and the EU provided an update on the establishment of its External Investment Plan (EIP) which makes use of a new generation of financial and risk sharing instruments, such as guarantees, as well as the traditional blending of grants with loans for sustainable development projects. The EU is currently exploring venues to set up a guarantee facility to support the Mauritius Africa Strategy and SMEs investment. The EU also announced that it will provide assistance to Mauritius to help it identifying opportunities and preparing proposals for funding under a range of global and regional instruments.
The Parties agreed that preserving our ocean is a common objective that has all the more significance for Mauritius as an oceanic nation. They agreed that combating marine pollution and sustainable exploitation of marine resources, notably by fighting illegal fishing, remained priority issues. They also exchanged on their cooperation in the context of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and agreed to work together on the resolution of regional observer scheme ahead of the next session of the IOTC. The parties exchanged views on the challenges faced by the Mauritius fishing sector and the establishment of a platform for a better dialogue.
The EU furthermore congratulated Mauritius on a successful conference on maritime security, stressing that despite a decrease in piracy activity during the last years it is important to remain vigilant and that the agreements resulting from the conference should be implemented with determination.
The Parties also discussed the implementation of the decisions taken at the last year's EU-Africa Summit, the negotiation of the new framework for the EU partnership with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries which will replace the Cotonou Agreement after 2020 and the external instruments under the new Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU. Mauritius requested the EU to give special consideration to the specific needs of Small Island Developing States / Middle Income Countries in the forthcoming Post Cotonou negotiations.
The Ambassador of the European Union, H.E. Marjaana Sall, led the EU party. She was accompanied by the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom, the Ambassadors of France, and the Netherlands and the political counsellor of the Embassy of Spain.