Brussels, 9 February 2022 (TDI): The 24th meeting of the Joint Commission of the European Union (EU) and Sri Lanka was held on 8 February in Brussels.

The meeting was chaired by Deputy Managing Director for Asia and Pacific at European External Action Service, Paola Pampaloni and Admiral (Prof.) Jayanath Colombage, Secretary, Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka.

Both Parties reviewed their bilateral relations and discussed a wide range of topics related to bilateral interests including trade, governance, human rights, security and counter-terrorism, climate change, and cooperation in several multilateral fora.

EU appreciated the efforts of Sri Lanka as the Government of Sri Lanka proposed some amendments to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). However, the EU has highlighted a few important points that were not focused on in amendments proposed by Srilanka.

The Joint Commission also discussed the Working Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation that was held virtually on January 26, 2022. European Union emphasized lifting the ban imposed by Sri Lanka that is preventing European products to approach Sri Lanka Markets.

However, Sri Lanka clarifies that the imposed restriction on European products is temporary and the decision was taken due to foreign exchange shortfall as a result of the global pandemic.

The two sides appreciate each other’s contribution to the GSP+ regime. The Commission also reviewed Sri Lanka’s compliance with the 27 International Conventions related to human rights, labor rights, protection of the environment, and good governance as covered by the GSP+ scheme.

Discussions also involve the conclusions of the Working Group on Development Cooperation that took place on February 2, 2022. All aspects of EU-Sri Lanka development and cooperation were reviewed and the priorities for EU Multi-Annual Indicative Programme (MIP) for 2021-2027 were discussed.

For the educational sector, the joint commission discussed the ways to strengthen cooperation in higher education, research, technical, and developmental program under the Erasmus+ program, the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie program, and the Horizon Europe framework program.

Both Parties also focused to cooperate further to deal with the modern-day threat of climate change and environmental protection. Both sides exchange their views for the upcoming 27 UN Climate Change Conference (COP27).

However, in the domain of security and counter-terrorism, Sri Lanka welcomes the European Union’s decision to keep the name of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist organization.

Both parties focused to adhere international norms and standards to fight terrorism. The regional development and cooperation in the Indian Ocean were also discussed in the meeting.

Sri Lanka also appreciated the Global Gateway Initiative by European Union that is primarily focused on major investment in infrastructure developments around the world. In the meeting, both the EU and Sri Lanka agreed to convene the next joint commission meeting in Colombo in 2023.