The European Union (EU) and the Republic of Vanuatu held their fourth Political Dialogue in Brussels this week.

The meeting was chaired on Vanuatu’s side by Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabismasmas and on the EU side by the European External Action Service’s Asia Pacific Managing Director Gunnar Wiegand.

During his visit, the Prime Minister also met the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Commissioners Canete on climate change and Mimica on development matters.

The Political Dialogue meeting provided an opportunity for both sides to review cooperation between the EU and Vanuatu over the last years and to agree on future perspectives for EU-ACP relations after 2020, recognising the need to replace the current Cotonou Agreement with an ambitious successor that would guide relations between the EU and the Pacific over the coming decade.

The new Agreement shall reflect bilateral issues but also the increasing number of regional and global issues that Vanuatu, EU and the wider Pacific address together, such as security, climate change, disaster risk reduction, and the sustainable management of oceans.

In the context of the Sustainable Development Agenda, Vanuatu presented the latest developments in the field of gender issues and on empowering women through planned constitutional reform. As proponents of regional cooperation, both the EU and Vanuatu agreed to further increase efforts to integrate New Caledonia and French Polynesia in the Pacific Islands Forum and other regional fora.

The dialogue identified a number of areas for follow-up that will boost cooperation between European Union and Vanuatu in the period until the next political dialogue in 2019. Both the European Union and Vanuatu agreed a number of actions to assure the implementation of ongoing and future development programmes, notably in the agricultural sector.

Participants also agreed to explore opportunities for Vanuatu offered by the Economic Partnership Agreement in terms of increased trade.

Both sides welcomed their close cooperation in the international fight against Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported fishing and in promoting the sustainable management of marine resources.

The EU praised the impressive reform carried out by Vanuatu in its legal framework on fisheries and fleet management which represents a big step towards securing fish stocks for the future generations of the Vanuatu people.

The EU and Vanuatu agreed as well to work together on their common obligations to meet OECD norms and targets in a wider global effort to improve global tax practices. The Parties also discussed the way forward towards a full implementation of the EU-Vanuatu short-term visa waiver agreement. Lastly, both the European Union and Vanuatu recognised the value of continuing the Political Dialogue with a view to also enhancing strategic cooperation in multilateral fora.

The next Dialogue will be held in Port Vila, in 2019.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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