The 13th meeting of the Joint Commission of Nepal and the European Union concluded in Kathmandu yesterday.

A broad range of issues of mutual interest featured on the agenda.

Set up in 1996, the Nepal-EU Joint Commission has proved a useful platform for engagement and provided momentum to further deepen the partnership between Nepal and the EU.

The EU and Nepal discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and cooperation in post-pandemic recovery.

Nepal conveyed its gratitude to the European Union for promptly extending the support of lifesaving medical items and equipment when Nepal was struggling through the devastating second wave of the pandemic in the summer this year.

The EU and Nepal underlined the importance of effective multilateral cooperation, strengthening the World Health Organisation, and strengthening global capacity to respond to future pandemics.

The two sides also underlined that vaccines are public goods, hence the need to ensure equitable access.

Nepal reiterated its appreciation for the EU's strong support for the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative as well as for the extension of the Initiative.

Nepal and the EU agreed that swift and full implementation of the DSSI by all official bilateral creditors should be a key priority in ensuring predictability given the continuing financing pressures on beneficiary countries owing to the pandemic.

The EU also informed about the finalisation of development programming documents under the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI Global Europe).

In the Sub-Commission on Development Cooperation held on November 23, Nepal and the EU took stock of the progress achieved and lessons learned in the implementation of ongoing cooperation.

The meeting expressed satisfaction over the successful implementation of the projects and programmes envisaged under the Multiannual Indicative Programme for Nepal for 2014-2020 in priority areas of sustainable rural development, education, and strengthening democracy and decentralisation.

The EU stated that the new MIP 2021-27, to be finalised soon, would be aligned with the priorities of the current 15th Periodic Plan and support inclusive and green growth, human capital development and good governance.

Nepal thanked Finland, France, Germany and the EU for the announced Team Europe Initiative on green recovery for a total amount of EUR 240 million.

The EU appreciated the achievements made by Nepal in its socio-political transformation.

It stressed the important role of civil society and media for strengthening democracy and good governance.

The EU encouraged Nepal to further increase the participation of women in political life and the decision making process.

The EU also welcomed the commitment to transitional justice expressed by Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in September this year.

The Joint Commission welcomed the lending activity of the European Investment Bank in Nepal, which will focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation as well as improved connectivity and renewable energy in the coming years.

Regarding people-to-people contacts, Nepal and the EU discussed ongoing higher education cooperation, whereby a growing number of Nepali students are studying in European universities.

Nepal ranks among the top 20 countries worldwide in terms of students being awarded scholarships for Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programmes.

They agreed on the importance of sincerely implementing the outcome of the COP26 held in Glasgow earlier this month and taking robust measures for climate action as well as meeting the financial commitments made to support the less resourceful countries in fighting the adverse impacts of climate change.

A version of this article appears in the print on November 26, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.