ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and European Union (EU) Tuesday agreed to continue their cooperation in various fields of mutual interest including counter-terrorism, defence, disarmament and non-proliferation.
Both sides agreed to continue cooperation at the fifth meeting of the EU-Pakistan Joint Commission held in Islamabad under the Co-chairmanship of Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Foreign Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and David O'Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer of the European External Action Service.
Both the sides appreciated the strengthening of EU-Pakistan relations and stressed the progress made in implementation of the EU-Pakistan 5-year Engagement Plan, culminating most recently with the second round of the strategic dialogue between HR/VP Ashton and National Security and Foreign Policy Advisor Aziz on 25 March 2014. They reaffirmed their common goal of further strengthening the dialogue and cooperation.
The EU expressed its strong support for a prosperous, democratic and secure Pakistan, and its continued willingness to support democracy, good governance and rule of law.
Both the parties agreed to continue extending cooperation on counter terrorism, defence, disarmament and non-proliferation. They welcomed the holding of the first dialogue on disarmament and non-proliferation on 16 June 2014 and agreed to hold the third round of the CT dialogue and the second round of the staff talks on defence issues in the near future.
EU and Pakistan welcomed the granting of increased market access under GSP+, and expressed the hope that this would help to increase Pakistan's exports to Europe, creating additional economic growth and jobs. Pakistan reiterated its commitment to continue implementation of the 27 international conventions covered by the scheme, and both the sides decided to enhance their dialogue in this respect.
The meeting also discussed the economic reform programme of the Government of Pakistan, highlighting the priorities of expanding energy supply and broadening the tax base. The reforms were fully supported by the EU. On the issue of energy, the two sides endorsed the establishment of a dedicated energy dialogue to strengthen cooperation and exchange of information.
Reports were submitted to the Joint Commission by the three subgroups on Trade, Governance and Human Rights, and Development and Cooperation.
On human rights, the EU, while acknowledging efforts of the Government of Pakistan to strengthen human rights infrastructure in the country, expressed its concern on a number of issues including freedom of the media, freedom of religion and belief and the situation of women. On trade, there was agreement to work on strengthening trade and investment and removing impediments. On Cooperation, the positive impact of continued engagement in rural development, education and governance, as well as need to build administrative capacity, was noted. The next meeting of the Joint Commission will be held in Brussels in 2015.
The Joint Commission is now the main forum to review the implementation of the EU-Pakistan 5-year Engagement Plan. With the common goal of building a partnership for peace and development rooted in shared values, principles and commitments, the Engagement Plan aims to promote cooperation and expand the partnership between the EU and Pakistan on a wide range of issues.
The Joint Commission was preceded on 23 June 2014 by meetings of two subgroups. The trade subgroup was co-chaired by Ms Diana Acconcia, Deputy Head of Unit in DG TRADE and Fazal Abbas Maken, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce.