The Maldives and the European Union have expressed satisfaction with the outcomes of the Fourth Senior Officials Meeting, which was held in Brussels on Tuesday. The meeting served to strengthen the longstanding bilateral ties between the two parties as they celebrated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

Both the EU and the Maldives affirmed their commitment to close cooperation within the United Nations and other multilateral forums. They agreed to collaborate on addressing pressing global challenges such as peace and security, sustainable development, climate change, biodiversity loss, and water and plastic pollution. The promotion of human rights in multilateral settings, including the Human Rights Council, was also highlighted.

The EU emphasised the importance of upholding democracy, protecting human rights, strengthening the rule of law, and combating corruption. It reiterated its support for the Maldives’ ongoing efforts in implementing democratic reforms and highlighted the significance of civil society, freedom of expression, and opinion as essential pillars of democracy, particularly in light of the upcoming Presidential elections in September.

Under the 2021-2027 Multi-annual Indicative Programme (MIP), the EU discussed its support for the Maldives’ key development priorities, including the green transition, climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity protection, and circular economy. The EU restated its commitment to assisting the Maldives in good governance, judicial reforms, and security.

Security cooperation was another area of focus, with both the EU and the Maldives exploring opportunities to enhance collaboration in counterterrorism, prevention of violent extremism, and maritime security. The EU and the Maldives reiterated their joint commitment to combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, highlighting the importance of sustainable fish stock management through the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission.

As trading and investment partners, the EU and the Maldives expressed their intent to further enhance economic cooperation. They aimed to adapt their Business Roundtable to the new context created by the Maldives’ membership in the OACPS, seeking to attract European investors and investments.

The EU and the Maldives also discussed the Maldives’ request for visa-free travel for Maldivian nationals to the EU Member States. The request would be considered during the next review of visa lists, underscoring the ongoing efforts to strengthen relations and foster greater connectivity between the EU and the Maldives.

The Fourth Senior Officials Meeting was co-chaired by Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Managing Director for Asia and Pacific at the European External Action Service, and Ahmed Khaleel, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.