The Joint Commission was held in a constructive atmosphere, covering a wide range of issues of common interest. The agenda included political developments on both sides, the role of the rule of law in democracy and governance, including in the holding of free and fair elections, human rights, migration, trade and investment, labour rights, development cooperation, including the Sustainable Development Goals, and humanitarian issues. Matters of global interest where the European Union and Bangladesh can intensify collaboration were also discussed, such as connectivity, climate change, ocean governance and the EU's upcoming high-level "Our Ocean Conference", to be held on 5-6 October 2017, in Valetta, Malta.
The European Union and Bangladesh exchanged views on key directions for the development cooperation agenda for 2018-2020, notably in the areas of education and skills development, public financial management, and support to social safety nets. In this respect, both sides agreed on the importance of regular sector policy dialogue to accompany long-term reforms and reinforce the EU-Bangladesh partnership for development cooperation in these areas. The European Union underlined the important role of public financial management reform to pave the way for increased use of country systems and, where conditions allow, the use of sector budget support. The European Union and Bangladesh agreed to work jointly towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and reconfirmed their shared understanding of the importance of translating the commitments of the 2030 Agenda into comprehensive sector implementation plans.
Building on previous high level dialogues and in the light of the recent G20 Leaders' Declaration, the European Union and Bangladesh committed to step up cooperation on migration, uphold human rights, including international labour standards, ensure women's empowerment, implement the 2015 Paris Agreement and the Nationally Determined Contributions, implement the Agenda 2030, and to fight terrorism.
The European Union and Bangladesh had an in-depth discussion on migration. The Bangladeshi delegation provided at the meeting their amendments to the draft Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on the return of irregular migrants from the European Union, which were submitted to them in June 2016. A lack of progress on these negotiations meant that no agreement could be reached on a timeframe for concluding the negotiations on the SOPs. The European Union expressed its regret at the lack of progress on these negotiations. The European Union will continue to press Bangladesh to conclude the negotiations on the SOPs by the end of July.
As regards trade and investment, Bangladesh and the European Union reiterated their joint commitment to the Sustainability Compact, including the respect of labour rights, in particular with regard to freedom of association. Bangladesh has made efforts to effectively implement the ILO's recent recommendations in this respect. However, the EU strongly underlined the high importance of further addressing the ILO's recent recommendations swiftly through concrete actions and timelines. The EU also emphasised the need to make progress under the EU-Bangladesh Business Climate Dialogue, which aims at improving conditions for European Union businesses.
The European Union and Bangladesh also agreed to raise awareness on opportunities related to the EU Research and Innovation programme HORIZON 2020, to continue to work on climate change and jointly explore new areas in which to work together, namely connectivity, maritime security, ocean governance and space. Both sides recognised the importance of ongoing contacts between people, including under the ERASMUS+ programme, and emphasised the need to jointly explore new avenues for such contacts which could, inter alia, be of particular benefit to youth. Both sides also agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the field of aviation security.
The European Union and Bangladesh agreed to work on this common agenda with a view to reaching concrete progress and deliverables, which will be reviewed in the course of the next Joint Commission, to be held in Dhaka in 2018.
The EU delegation was led by the Deputy Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific, Paola Pampaloni; the Bangladeshi delegation was led by Senior Secretary, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Mohammad Shahidul Haque.