On 13 October 2021 the European Union (EU) and Solomon Islands (SI) held their eighth Political Dialogue under article 8 of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) – EU Partnership (Cotonou) Agreement. The dialogue took place virtually and allowed the EU and Solomon Islands to take stock of achievements in the partnership since the last Political Dialogue meeting, held in Honiara on October 2019.
Both parties underlined their firm commitment to the further deepening and strengthening of their partnership, while upholding the rules-based international order and ensuring that multilateralism is effective, including in addressing common challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and promoting climate action.
As regards the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU and Solomon Islands reviewed the support provided by the EU including, the strengthening of the country’s health system through actions valued at €22 million (205 million Solomon Islands dollars) and mitigating the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 crisis through actions valued at €6.45 million (60.35 million Solomon Islands dollars). The EU and Solomon Islands also stressed the importance of increasing multilateral efforts to address this global challenge, including through the provision of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
The EU informed about steps taken and underway to realise the strategic priorities of the European Commission as stated in President von der Leyen’s State of the Union address of 15 September 2021. Amongst others, the address covered the Covid 19 recovery, climate action and the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy. The EU congratulated Solomon Islands on its recently updated, more ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement. The EU gave an overview of the ongoing preparations for the implementation of EU external assistance in the next financial period (2021-2027) and perspectives for development cooperation more generally. Taking stock of the Post-Cotonou negotiation process, the EU and Solomon Islands agreed that the Pacific Regional Protocol provides the framework to expand their cooperation, moving beyond development aid to mutual priorities.
The Political Dialogue underlined the importance that the EU and Solomon Islands attach to their shared values, including the rule of law, democracy, and human rights. The Parties discussed progress made towards addressing human rights issues, including Solomon Islands successful participation to its 3rd Universal Periodic Review. The EU commended Solomon Islands for its constructive approach during its 3rd Universal Periodic Review in May 2021, amidst the global emergency of COVID-19. Solomon Islands presented progress made in promoting good governance, fighting corruption, promoting gender equality, tackling gender-based violence and fighting human trafficking. Solomon Islands also informed about the ongoing ratification of international Human Rights instruments. Both parties agreed on the importance of keeping human rights central to their COVID-19 responses.
The EU and Solomon Islands discussed the implementation of the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) between the EU and the Pacific States and the potential it offers to Solomon Islands to increase its trade with the EU. It was intended to meet internationally recognised labour standards and to safeguard the environment and the management of natural resources, in the context of its graduation from the LDC status in 2024. The EU and the Solomon Islands will work closely towards the much-needed reform of the WTO. Discussions also focused on how best to promote progress on common priorities such as ocean governance, combatting Illegal, Unreported & Unregulated (IUU) fishing, and the risks related to investor citizenship schemes as well as visa-related issues.
The meeting was co-chaired by Ms Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Managing Director Asia and Pacific, European External Action Service, and Mr Collin Beck, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands.