Seychelles & the EU
With a population of around 87,000 people, the main economic mainstay of Seychelles is fishing and tourism. Seychelles was until the end of 2008 facing serious external debt and macroeconomic imbalances. Seychelles is currently implementing an ambitious economic and financial reform programme with determination and ownership with the support of the development partners with a market driven focus in order to achieve macroeconomic stability. The implementation of bold economic reforms has enabled Seychelles to weather the global economic crisis and experience an economic turnaround.
The EU supports the process of economic reform underway in Seychelles and is involved in policy dialogue on governance reforms.
Relations between Seychelles and the EU are very good and have remarkably improved over the last few years with a high number of very good results achieved in terms of development cooperation and beyond.
The EU-Seychelles Relations - Cooperation beyond Development
Fight Against piracy and promotion of maritime security
The Seychelles plays a very pro-active role and has a leadership role in the international fight against piracy and for the promotion of maritime security. The EU and the Seychelles are in close policy dialogue over this challenging subject.
The Seychelles covers a large area - 115 islands within an EEZ of 650,000 Sq KMs. Despite successful economic reforms, its economy is reliant on tourism and tuna fishing, both of which can be affected by piracy attacks. It is also heavily reliant on imported goods, including foodstuffs. The combination of these factors and its proximity to Somalia make it vulnerable.
Discussions began between the Seychelles and the EU (represented by EU MS permanently resident in Seychelles: FR and UK) in June 2009 to establish a transfer agreement for pirates captured by EUNAVFOR and a status of forces agreement (SOFA). An exchange of letters covering transfer arrangements was signed in September 2009 and a SOFA in November 2009.
The EU and individual member states have also provided funding through the UNODC for a capacity building programme which is designed to increase the ability of the Seychelles to prosecute and imprison pirates. The UNODC programme including 780,000 euros from the EU is focused on the following areas:
- Prisons – training, management support, building/increase in beds
- Judiciary – training, equipment, prosecutors
- Police – investigators, training, equipment
- Coastguard – equipment, training and technical assistance from visiting EU and other naval assets, equipment
This financial support is going to be further scaled up via the 3 million euros additional grant aimed at mitigating costs financed directly by the Government of Seychelles.
The Foreign Affairs Council meeting agreed to extend the mandate of the Atalanta mission by two years from 31/12/2010 to 31/12/2012 and more recently to 31/12/2014.
The Seychelles has organised major international fora facilitating policy dialogue in the fight against piracy and for the promotion of maritime security. In May 2010 the Seychelles organised the first regional Ministerial Meeting, co-chaired by Minister Morgan and the EU HR/VP. In July 2010 the Seychelles organised an international symposium and after that hosted the meeting of regional organisations in the ESA-IO region to launch the preparation of the regional strategy and regional action plan, which were endorsed by the 2nd Ministerial Meeting held in Mauritius on 7 October 2010.
The Seychelles has been identified as a priority country for the EU financed EUCAPNESTOR programme. The team leader of EUCAPNESTOR for the Seychelles has startied working in Victoria since September 2012.
The Seychelles ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in July 2010, prior to the Kampala Summit. The Statute entered into force for the Seychelles on 1 November, 2010.
Interim Economic Partnership Agreement
The Seychelles signed the interim EPA in Mauritius at the end of August 2009 and proceed to its ratification on 6 April 2010. The Agreement is being implemented since May 2012. Seychelles is amongst the countries which show a great level of interest and commitment towards a full, comprehensive, EPA.
The Seychelles is one of the pilot countries which benefit from Schengen visa waiver (up to 3 months) since mid 2009.
Policy dialogue between the EU and the Seychelles on fisheries matters is very close and dynamic.
The Seychelles has a leadership role in the fishery sector. The country is hosting international tuna conferences and has very dynamic participation in international fisheries regional organisations and projects. The Seychelles undoubtedly ranks amongst the coastal states adopting best practices in line with responsible and sustainable fishing.
In June 2010, the EU and the Seychelles initialled a new protocol under the Tuna Fisheries Partnership Agreement in line with the reform of the EU's Fisheries Policy and the Seychelles's fisheries legal update.
The European purse seine fleet makes almost 25 % of their total catches in the Indian Ocean in the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone. Most of these highly specialized vessels operate from Port Victoria which offers a wide range of services. Their landings supply the local canning industry and the industry of the whole region (Mauritius, Madagascar and Kenya) with high quality products.
The Seychelles has on climate change a position which is in line with that of the EU as clearly highlighted in all the high level international conferences.
The Seychelles is actually one of the countries having a clear strategy against climate change already approved by Cabinet.
The policy dialogue is very close and the Seychelles have been selected in 2009 as one of the countries which would benefit from the GCCA budget line of the EU.
European Investment Bank
Following the launch and implementation of the economic reform programme, relations with the EIB have been reinvigorated. In March 2011 the EIB agreed to provide an 8 million euro loan to the Seychelles Cable Systems Company (SCS) for the installation and operation of the first submarine fibre-optic cable for international connections to the
The loan will fund a 1,930km cable from the main island of Mahe to the existing Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System in Tanzania and is expected to come into operation by the second half of 2012. The fibre-optic cable is expected to improve not only telecommunications and internet access in Seychelles, but also to reduce the costs of international transmissions. As a result, it will also have a positive influence on other sectors – it will improve healthcare and education links, enhance job opportunities and slow down the emigration of skilled Seychellois.
In parallel, the project will also benefit from a 4 million euro grant from the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund to support shareholding in the project by the government of Seychelles. A statutory dividend from this equity stake will be used to provide free internet access for schools, libraries, hospitals and other social development-related services.
In November 2011, the EIB agreed to provide a EUR 26.7 million loan for the implementation of water and sanitation project. The project will aim at expanding water supply systems, upgrading sewage systems, improving environmental and natural disaster risk management, and building capacity of the Public Utility Corporation. The EU will contribute to this project through EDF grant of up to EUR 2.4 million for technical assistance and interest rate subsidy for an amount equivalent to EUR 5.4 million.
In line with the strategy to address the needs of private sector development, the EIB has proviede a loan of EUR 5.0 million in August 2012 to the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS) to support development of small and medium enterprises. This initiative will be supported by technical assistance to help the DBS to modernise its governance, credit risk management and financial monitoring.