The first European Union-Myanmar Senior Officials’ Meeting took place in Brussels on 16 May 2019, according to a press release issued 17 May.
This meeting allowed for a wide ranging dialogue including: political and economic developments in the EU and in Myanmar; trade and investment; development cooperation; peace process, especially the EU’s role as one of the six international witnesses to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement; humanitarian issues, including the situation of Internally Displaced Persons in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States; the implementation of the recommendation of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State; accountability for human rights violations and related crimes; human rights including media freedom and labour rights as well as the repatriation of displaced persons from Bangladesh and Thailand.
Important regional and global issues were also discussed such as prospects for EU-ASEAN cooperation, including within the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), connectivity between the EU and Asia as well as joint EU-Myanmar cooperation within the UN and all relevant multilateral fora to address global challenges such as peace and security, environment, climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development.
Based on its 2016 strategy on Myanmar the EU reaffirmed its continuous strong support for Myanmar's democratic transition, peace and national reconciliation process and inclusive socio-economic development. In this regard, the 2018 Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan was considered by both sides to provide a good basis for future bilateral development cooperation. At the same time, both the EU and Myanmar agreed that this should go hand in hand with the strengthening of the rule of law and good governance, on the basis of shared values and international human rights standards.
The meeting welcomed the EU's important contribution to employment through the significant increase in Myanmar's exports to the EU (+47% in 2018) as well as through the substantial EU investment in the country. Myanmar expressed its appreciation for the robust EU development assistance in Myanmar (€ 638 million for the period 2014-2020) and especially the EU support for reforms in education, agriculture, rural development and governance.
It was agreed that the EU-Myanmar Senior Officials' meetings are a valuable platform to take stock and further foster bilateral relations and to enhance cooperation on regional and global issues and would be held regularly, in addition to the existing annual Human Rights Dialogue and the ongoing EU Enhanced Everything But Arms (EBA) Monitoring Mission.
The EU-Myanmar Senior Officials’ Meeting was co-chaired by the Managing Director for Asia and Pacific of the European External Action Service, Mr Gunnar Wiegand, and the Permanent Secretary of the Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Myint Thu.