Nepal, EU agree to put off on-site air safety assessment


By A Staff Reporter,Kathmandu, Feb. 3: Citing the recent crash of Yeti Airlines aircraft in Pokhara on January 15, the European Union (EU) has postponed its on-site assessment of Nepal’s air safety which was planned for mid-February. 

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the EU and Nepal agreed that the EU on-site assessment planned for mid-February would be postponed to a later date to allow the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to deal with the aftermath of the recent airline crash. 

The agreement was made during the 14th meeting of the Joint Commission of EU and Nepal on Wednesday in Brussels. However, the MoFA informed in a statement that both the countries reaffirmed that air safety was among the key priority areas of their bilateral relations. 

The EU Ambassador to Nepal, Nona Deprez and Director General of the CAAN, Pradeep Adhikari, had said in a joint statement in November last year that EU was sending an on-site assessment team soon in the future. 

The team’s major objective would be to review and assess the recent change made by the aviation sector regulator in terms of human resource management, especially about separating the regulatory and managerial jobs. 

Earlier, in October 2022, the EU had again denied to remove Nepali airlines companies from its air safety blacklist. 

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that both the sides exchanged views on a broad range of issues, a sign of deepening ties and expanding EU-Nepal agenda.  

They discussed bilateral trade relations in light of Nepal’s future graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status in 2026. 

“Nepal seeks to diversify its exports to the EU, to make full use of the benefits offered by the ‘Everything but Arms’ trading regime, while preparing to apply for the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) arrangement,” read the statement. 

Likewise, the EU offered close cooperation during the transition period following Nepal’s graduation from LDC status, and asked Nepal to share its graduation strategy, also stressing the importance of an open and competitive business environment.  

The EU and Nepal highlighted strong investment potential, notably in the area of renewable energies. The EU encouraged Nepal to take advantage of investment opportunities, including from the European Investment Bank and other European financial institutions, which can be supported by guarantees and grants through the new European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus. “Such investments are expected to support shared priority objectives in areas such as green and sustainable economic development and poverty reduction,” said the MoFA.  

In the first Joint Commission meeting under the new leadership in Nepal, following the federal and provincial elections on November 20, 2022, both partners confirmed their intention to constructively engage in the Human Rights Council on the matters of common interest, and the EU invited Nepal to give positive consideration to the pending requests for visits of UN Special Rapporteurs. 

Similarly, the EU praised Nepal’s commitment to reach full net zero emissions by 2045, and encouraged maintaining this trajectory. They both highlighted the importance of transparency and accountability of climate finance commitments, and the need to ensure that green transition is sustainable and socially inclusive. 

The EU’s bilateral Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) for development cooperation, with a financial envelope of €209 million for 2021-2024, is fully aligned with Nepal’s National Development Plan, and focuses on Green, Resilient, and Inclusive Development (GRID). In addition, the EU is pooling resources for a Team Europe Initiative for ‘Green Recovery’, with the participation of Germany, Finland, France and the European Investment Bank (EIB).  

The meeting was co-chaired by Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific of the European External Affairs Service, and Bharat Raj Paudyal, Foreign Secretary of the Government of Nepal. 

The next Joint Commission meeting will take place in Kathmandu in 2024.

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