EU has said it will continue to press Bangladesh to conclude the negotiations on the SOPs
EU has said it will continue to press Bangladesh to conclude the negotiations on the SOPs

The European Union (EU) has said it will continue to press Bangladesh to conclude the negotiations on the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on the return of irregular migrants from the EU by the end of July.

A ‘lack of progress’ on these negotiations meant that no agreement could be reached on a timeframe for concluding the negotiations on the SOPs.

The European Union has expressed its regret at the ‘lack of progress’ on these negotiations, according to a document UNB obtained on Friday.

The European Union and Bangladesh had an in-depth discussion on migration during the eighth Joint Commission held on Wednesday in Brussels.

The Bangladeshi delegation provided at the meeting their amendments to the draft Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on the return of irregular migrants from the European Union, which were submitted to them in June 2016.

As regards trade and investment, Bangladesh and the European Union reiterated their joint commitment to the Sustainability Compact, including the respect of labour rights, in particular with regard to freedom of association.

The outcome document of the meeting mentioned that Bangladesh has made efforts to effectively implement the ILO’s recent recommendations in this respect.

However, the EU strongly underlined the high importance of further addressing the ILO’s recent recommendations swiftly through concrete actions and timelines.

The EU also emphasised the need for making progress under the EU-Bangladesh Business Climate Dialogue, which aims to improve conditions for European Union businesses.

The European Union and Bangladesh also agreed to raise awareness on opportunities related to the EU Research and Innovation programme HORIZON 2020, to continue to work on climate change and jointly explore new areas in which to work together, namely connectivity, maritime security, ocean governance and space.

Both sides recognised the importance of ongoing contacts between people, including under the ERASMUS+ programme, and stressed the need for exploring new avenues for such contacts which could, inter alia, be of particular benefit to youths.

Both sides also agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the field of aviation security.

The European Union and Bangladesh agreed to work on this common agenda with a view to reaching concrete progress and deliverables, which will be reviewed in the course of the next Joint Commission, to be held in Dhaka in 2018.

The Joint Commission was held in a constructive atmosphere, covering a wide range of issues of common interest.

The agenda included political developments on both sides, the role of the rule of law in democracy and governance, including in the holding of free and fair elections, human rights, migration, trade and investment, labour rights, development cooperation, including the Sustainable Development Goals, and humanitarian issues.

Matters of global interest where the European Union and Bangladesh can intensify collaboration were also discussed, such as connectivity, climate change, ocean governance and the EU’s upcoming high-level ‘Our Ocean Conference’, to be held on October 5-6 2017, in Valetta, Malta.

The EU and Bangladesh exchanged views on key directions for the development cooperation agenda for 2018-2020, notably in the areas of education and skills development, public financial management, and support to social safety nets.

In this respect, both sides agreed on the importance of regular sector policy dialogue to accompany long-term reforms and reinforce the EU-Bangladesh partnership for development cooperation in these areas.

The EU underlined the important role of public financial management reform to pave the way for increased use of country systems and, where conditions allow, the use of sector budget support.

The EU and Bangladesh agreed to work jointly towards the implementation of the SDGs and reconfirmed their shared understanding of the importance of translating the commitments of the 2030 Agenda into comprehensive sector implementation plans.

Building on previous high-level dialogues and in the light of the recent G20 Leaders’ Declaration, the EU and Bangladesh committed to stepping up cooperation on migration, upholding human rights, including international labour standards, ensuring women’s empowerment, implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement and the Nationally Determined Contributions, implementing the Agenda 2030, and fighting terrorism.