Mrs. Chitranganee Wagiswara and Gunnar Wiegand

The 20th meeting of the European Union (EU) – Sri Lanka Joint Commission which took place in Brussels, last week, has welcomed Sri Lanka’s application for access to the trade concessions under the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) as a sign of ‘Sri Lanka’s renewed commitment to meeting its wider international obligations’. According to a joint statement issued following the meeting, the parties discussed the procedure for assessing the application, which was presented to the EU at the end of June, in line with the GSP Regulation.

“The EU drew attention to the importance of continued positive progress in fulfilling Sri Lanka’s stated commitments which need to proceed in parallel. The Joint Commission also agreed to resume the EU-Sri Lanka investment dialogue,” the statement said.

It further, noted that the European Investment Bank has announced that it is currently negotiating a 50 million Euros (Rs. 8.2 billion) concessional loan with the Government of Sri Lanka for Greater Colombo Wastewater Project.

“The EU reiterated its plans to widen its 2014-2020 development programme (€210 million (LKR 34.4 billion) beyond rural development to provide grants for reconciliation and good governance. Discussions on the specific needs will continue with the Government of Sri Lanka in the coming months,” the statement said.

The meeting was co-chaired by Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Mrs. Chitranganee Wagiswara and Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific at the European External Action Service, Gunnar Wiegand.

The Joint Commission, which oversees the 1995 EU-Sri Lanka Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development, deals with a broad range of bilateral and multilateral issues of mutual interest. Its tasks are to ensure the proper functioning and implementation of the agreement, set priorities and make recommendations.

All three Working Groups established under the terms of the Joint Commission reported back from their respective meetings held in January (the Working Group on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights) and in May (the Working Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation Issues, and the Working Group on Development Cooperation).

“The parties agreed on a series of actions for follow-up before the next Joint Commission meeting in Colombo in 2017,” the statement added.