The Maldives is an upper middle-income island state of 500,000 inhabitants located in the Indian Ocean. Its economy is primarily based on tourism, fisheries and the construction sector. Maldives is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change due to its low-lying position, resulting in constant flood risk due to sea level rise. The geographic dispersion of the islands brings its own challenges, making service delivery difficult and limiting opportunities for job creation and economic diversification.
In addition to climate change, main development challenges include the promotion of sustainable growth and jobs (notably for young people), economic diversification, the rule of law, human rights, gender, civil society, tax cooperation, anti-money laundering, public finance management and debt management, oceans governance, maritime security and the prevention of violent extremism.
The EU and the Maldives established diplomatic relations in 1983. Since 2015, EU Heads of Missions to the Maldives have held an annual policy dialogue with the Maldives government. In 2019, the EU High Representative and the Maldives’ Minister of Foreign Affairs agreed to set up annual meetings at the level of senior officials to further enhance cooperation between the Maldives and the EU.
Strengthened EU cooperation with the Maldives and its support to the country’s democratic transition is reflected in the Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) 2021-2024 for the Maldives, which is built on 2priority areas
- green recovery
- good governance, rule of law and security
The MIP for the Maldives amounts to €12 million until the mid-term review in 2024.
The Maldives is facing an essential human-to-nature dilemma: how to sustain its economy, based essentially on tourism and fishery, while protecting the essential natural resources and biodiversity that provide basic incomes for the population. Creating sustainable and inclusive economic development by promoting a circular economy that creates employment, while investing in climate change mitigation and adaptation to protect biodiversity and people’s livelihoods will be essential in this priority area.
This priority area recognises climate change as an existential threat to the low-lying islands of the Maldives, which are predicted to disappear by 2100 given rises in sea levels.
Good governance, rule of law and security
The Maldives have seen significant challenges related to weak public institutions and accountability, endemic corruption, gender inequality, a politicised judiciary, and vulnerability to radicalisation and violent extremism. There is now both momentum and necessity to address structural challenges to consolidate democratic governance, security, and the rule of law in the country. These priorities are consistent with the current government’s national priorities.
Action in this area focuses on improving local governance and the decentralisation process, based on government-led reforms; and empowering local councils in line with the government policy, with a main focus on improving women’s political representation and participation at the local level. The rule of law, institutional accountability and anti-corruption reforms will all be strengthened.