European Parliament reiterates commitment to strengthen relations

state minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam and European trade commissioner and executive vice-president of the European Parliament Valdis Dombrovskis.Photo: Collected

European trade commissioner and executive vice-president of the European Parliament Valdis Dombrovskis recognised Bangladesh-EU relations as a multi-dimensional strategic partnership, and reiterated EU’s political commitment in this regard.

Valdis Dombrovskis made the comment when state minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam met him at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels on Friday, said a foreign ministry press release.

Celebrating 50 years of Bangladesh-EU partnership and commending Bangladesh as the biggest beneficiary of EU’s EBA scheme, the trade commissioner expressed EU’s support for a smooth graduation of Bangladesh out of LDC status and for Bangladesh to apply for GSP+ concessions.

Valdis Dombrovskis highlighted EU-Bangladesh Business Climate Dialogue and EU-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce as important platforms for European and Bangladeshi businesses to come together meaningfully.

He appreciated Bangladesh’s adaptation of the National Action Plan on the Labour Sector.

On his four-day visit to Brussels, the state minister gratefully recognised the role of the EU in the country’s development since independence.

He apprised the EVP of steps being taken by the government to diversify the economy and prepare for graduation and the much bigger role of the EU envisaged in future.

Bangladesh expressed hope for an early launching of the Partnership Cooperation Agreement which would be an important institutional and legal mechanism to concretise the elevated relations.

The EU side was apprised of the people centric policies being adopted by the government, including creating and sustaining conducive working conditions in the manufacturing sector.

Practicalities which limit ongoing efforts to implement the National Action Plan on the labour sector of Bangladesh were also conveyed.

Earlier in the morning, state minister Alam held an interactive conversation on Bangladesh’s foreign policy and geopolitical role in the Indo-Pacific region, EU-Bangladesh relations, impact of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, global peace, Rohingya crisis, climate change and more at the event titled ‘EPC Talks Geopolitics’ at the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

The audience, which included members of the diplomatic corps, academia and media, were enlightened by the talk about Bangladesh and the country’s growing role in international peace and development.

On 4 May, the state minister met vice-president of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Kris Peeters and discussed EIB offers for investing in infrastructure development, climate-friendly technology and renewable energy in the country. Opportunities to harness the EU’s Global Gateway initiative were discussed.

The state minister also held a comprehensive meeting with Stefano Sannino, secretary general of the European External Action Service (EEAS). Early launching of the Partnership Cooperation Agreement between both sides was discussed.

Sannino welcomed Bangladesh’s unveiling of the Indo-Pacific outlook. Other issues of discussion included climate change, Rohingya crisis, scope for skilled workforce from Bangladesh filing job market needs in Europe and food and energy crisis due to the war in Ukraine.

Bangladesh member of parliament Nahim Razzaque, Bangladesh ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU, Mahbub Hassan Saleh, and officials of the foreign ministry and the embassy were present during the meetings.

On 3 May, Shahriar Alam was the special guest of honour at the reception hosted by the embassy of Bangladesh in Brussels to mark the 52nd Anniversary of Independence and National Day at the prestigious Cercle Royal Gaulois in Brussels.

The state minister thanked Belgium and the EU for their support to Bangladesh, which enabled the country to anchor its relations with these two partners on trade, rather than aid.

Commending the EU’s role in Bangladesh’s socio-economic developmental journey in the last 50 years, ambassador Mahbub Hassan Saleh, termed it a proud moment in history to be engaging with the EU at a time when Bangladesh is on the threshold of graduating.

Deputy secretary general of the EEAS Enrique Mora and director general of bilateral affairs of the Belgian foreign ministry Jeroen Cooreman were present as guests of honour.

High level officials from Belgian, Luxembourg and the EU institutions, as well as members of the Bangladesh community, media, academia and think tanks joined the gala reception.

State minister Shahriar Alam left Brussels Saturday afternoon after completing his four-day visit to Brussels with a packed agenda which included meetings with EU commissioners, members of the European Parliament and engagements with the international media.