The European Union (EU) reiterated the need to repeal and replace Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in order to bring counter-terrorism legislation in line with international standards.
The members of the EU expressed these views during the 22nd session of the EU-Sri Lanka joint commission which was held on Thursday in Brussels.
The meeting was co-chaired by Ms Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific at the European External Action Service, and Mr. Ravinatha Aryasinha, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka.
In a joint statement, the EU also reiterated its opposition to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and encouraged Sri Lanka to maintain its moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
“The meeting provided an opportunity to exchange views on the implementation of the UN Resolution on Sri Lanka. The important steps taken by Sri Lanka with regard to establishing an Office on Missing Persons and passing legislation to set up an Office for Reparations were welcomed. Sri Lanka’s continued commitment to the implementation of the resolution was acknowledged and the EU stressed the need for further progress in the advancement of national reconciliation. The EU expressed its continued readiness to support Sri Lanka in these efforts,” the statement said.
The EU and Sri Lanka discussed the EU strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia, which aims to better connect Europe and Asia through transport links, energy networks, digital networks and people-to-people connections, and agreed to deepen their contacts in this field, including in view of the Indian Ocean Ministerial conference to be held in Colombo this year.
In this context, the Joint Commission noted that the European Investment Bank agrees to enhance its lending activities in Sri Lanka in the field of climate change mitigation and adaptation, particularly in support of renewable energy, energy efficiency, urban transport, and other investments which reduce CO2 emissions and/or strengthen resilience to climate change. The support extended to develop the SME sector was welcomed.
The statement further said the preferential access to the EU market granted to Sri Lanka under the GSP+ scheme has clearly benefitted Sri Lanka since the reintroduction in May 2017, with over €2.2 billion of exports under GSP+ during the period June 2017–May 2018.
“Both sides acknowledged that there was room to make even better use of the concessions granted. Sri Lanka reaffirmed the commitments made to implement 27 conventions on human and labour rights, environment and good governance so as to benefit from the GSP+ scheme,” it said.
The EU and Sri Lanka agreed on a series of actions for follow-up before the next Joint Commission meeting in Colombo in 2020.