The European Union and Indonesia move forward with their diversified bilateral agenda
22 June 2021
The European Union (EU) and Indonesia held the fifth meeting of the Joint Committee on 22 June 2021 by videoconference.
The Joint Committee builds upon the recent visit of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy-Vice President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell to Jakarta, where he had the opportunity to meet with the highest Indonesian authorities, including President Joko Widodo, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi and the Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto. The Joint Committee meeting reviewed the on-going bilateral cooperation under the European Union-Indonesia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and discussed possible future cooperation initiatives.
The agenda of the Joint Committee covered a wide range of topics including COVID-19 pandemic response and post-COVID-19 recovery, cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, the implementation of the PCA, sectoral cooperation in a number of areas, and EU-ASEAN relations. Indonesia and the EU acknowledged their deep cooperation, which has grown steadily since the PCA came into force in 2014 and reaffirmed their joint will to reinforce it further.
Both Parties acknowledge that Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The EU presented its Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific acknowledging the growing importance of the region and stressing the EU’s commitment to reinforcing its role in cooperation with its partners there. Whereas Indonesia is committed to place ASEAN as the central role in the Indo-Pacific Cooperation within the four key cooperation areas namely maritime, connectivity, sustainable development goals, and economic cooperation.
Both the EU and Indonesia summarised their joint ambition in the areas of environment and combating climate change and their intention to work towards a Joint Green Agenda. This follows up on discussions held during the third meeting of the Indonesia-EU Working Group on Environment and Climate Change (WGECC) that took place from 30 June to 2 July 2020.
The EU and Indonesia stressed their continued commitment to enhancing cooperation, at bilateral level as well as in all relevant international fora and organisations, on issues related the greening of their economies including clean energy, energy efficiency, climate mitigation and adaptation, circular economy, resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production, pollution reduction, biodiversity protection, sustainable forest management & infrastructure development, as laid down in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) as well as crosscutting topics such as mobilising funding and research and innovation.
The Joint Committee mandated the EU and Indonesia to propose a work programme covering these topics for discussion at the forthcoming Working Group on Environment and Climate Change.
The Joint Committee also took stock of the discussions held during a number of other sectoral policy dialogues in the past year.
The third meeting of the High Level Dialogue on Fisheries and Maritime issues, held on 23 September 2020, reviewed a number of recent policy developments in the EU and in Indonesia, including the EU’s sustainable blue economy plans and progress in several international processes, such as the EU negotiations on marine Biodiversity of areas Beyond National Jurisdiction. Both delegations identified some areas for cooperation, notably on climate change research, coral reefs and blue carbon. With the EU joining the International Coral Reef Initiative in February 2021, both parties’ efforts to promote better ocean governance were reinforced
As a tangible example of their ever-expanding cooperation, Indonesia and the EU welcomed the collaboration between the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the Indonesian Agency of Marine and Fisheries Research and Human Resource contributing to developing better tsunami early warning systems using Inexpensive Device for Sea Level measurement (IDSL).
The fifth Security Policy Dialogue took place on 21 October 2020 and reaffirmed the growing bilateral engagement on security-related matters covering, inter alia, counter-terrorism, the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, counter-narcotics, cybersecurity, non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear materials and weapons, and disaster relief. With COVID-19 acting as a multiplier of security challenges, both delegations expressed the mutual desire to strengthen cooperation, and agreed on a list of activities.
The last meeting of the Working Group on Trade and Investment was held on 26 January 2021. It reviewed recent trends in trade and investment policies, pending matters of concern with regard to bilateral market access irritants and the latest developments in domestic legislative frameworks in areas of relevance for bilateral trade relations, including the adoption by Indonesia of the Omnibus Law and the resumption of imports of EU alcoholic beverages. Both delegations noted the progress made over the last year in the framework of the Indonesia-EU Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations and stressed their mutual commitment to achieve an ambitious and comprehensive agreement. The 11th round of negotiations is scheduled to take place in early July 2021 by videoconference.
During the ninth session of the Human Rights Dialogue, which took place on 27 May the participants raised concerns during discussions that covered, inter alia, gender equality and women’s empowerment, increasing trend of acts of racism, xenophobia, hate speech, discrimination based on religion or belief, and Islamophobia; the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, of religion or belief; human rights defenders; gender and LGBTI rights; trafficking in human beings; the death penalty; extra-judicial killings, and cooperation in the UN and other multilateral fora. Indonesia and the EU emphasised the need to implement human rights-based policies to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that any restrictive measures should be proportionate, temporary and not arbitrary or discriminatory.
The Working Group on Development Cooperation, held on 17 June 2021; discussed new development policies and progress towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It also reviewed ongoing and future bilateral cooperation programmes, in particular new opportunities for cooperation under the EU Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), which foresees mainly to support policy dialogue in key areas, and in particular the Green Agenda.
In the field of higher education, both delegations welcomed the strong participation of Indonesia in Erasmus+ opportunities for mobility and cooperation projects. The 2014-20 programme brought over 1,750 Indonesian students and staff to European higher education institutions, and almost 1,000 Europeans to Indonesian partner universities. The EU and Indonesia also agreed to promote further participation and opportunities for bilateral co-operation and student/staff/researcher exchanges through the new Erasmus+ Programme and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and Indonesia programmes, such as Beasiswa LPDP, Darmasiswa, and the Indonesian Arts and Culture Scholarship.
The Joint Committee meeting was co-chaired by Mr Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific at the European External Action Service of the EU and Mr Ngurah Swajaya Director-General for American and European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia.
The next meeting of the Joint Committee meeting will take place in Jakarta in 2022.