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Foreign Affairs Ministers of Africa and Europe convene in Abidjan to brainstorm on joint development issues

Foreign Affairs Ministers of Africa and Europe convene in Abidjan to brainstorm on joint development issues
Photo credit: European Union

29 Nov 2017

The opening ceremony of the Joint AU-EU Ministerial Meeting was held on 28 November 2017 in the presence of AU Commissioners and high officials from the AU and the EU, ahead of the 5th African Union-European Union Summit to be held on 29 and 30 November 2017 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

“The African Union (AU) and its Member States strive to create economic opportunities through regional integration, trade facilitation, and provision of an enabling investment environment,” said H.E Mr. Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission. “We strive to enhance societal and political resilience on the Continent for the benefit of current and future generations,” he added.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Quartey began by thanking the Government and people of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire for hosting the Summit. He also thanked the European Union Delegation for the significant efforts they invested in the preparations, deliberations and for the cooperative approach they have demonstrated throughout the process.

According to Deputy Chairperson Quartey, “it is only through good governance and democracy and the rule of law that our strategic partnerships can render the relationship truly beneficial, notably that with the EU, can we achieve and deliver on these priorities”.

He further recalled that between Europe and Africa, the geographic proximity and long historical relationship, could be a great strategic advantage to the joint AU-EU partnership. He however expressed satisfaction to the significant progress made by both continents over the past two decades since this partnership was forged.

Speaking earlier while chairing the ministerial session, H.E Mr. Mamadi Toure, Foreign Affairs Minister of the Republic of Guinea, transmitted greetings from his President and Chairperson of the African Union, Professor Alpha Konde to the President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, H.E. Alassane Dramane Ouattara. He thanked the Government and people of Cote d’Ivoire for their warm welcome and for the excellent measures taken to facilitate the successful holding of the 5th AU-EU Summit.

He underscored the need for the AU-EU to strengthen their partnership and share best practices with the view to face the many challenges of the world and better the lives of their respective populations.

Minister Mamadi Toure highlighted the theme of the summit: “Investment in Youth for Accelerated and Inclusive real growth and sustainable development” underlining that this shows the increased interest of the leaders from both continents to invest in the youth.

He highlighted the joint issues to be discussed including job creation; skills development; peace and security; governance including democracy, human rights, migration and mobility; investment and trade among others.

H.E Mrs. Frederica Mogherini, The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, on her part said the summit will be a key moment and opportunity to strengthen political and economic ties between the two continents as well as exchange views on investing in the youth for a sustainable future.

She said the summit will provide a platform for both parties to take stock of the achievements and challenges regarding the implementation of the priority areas stipulated in the joint strategic partnership.

Mrs. Mogherini announced that leaders from the African Union and the European Union member States will come together on 29 November 2017 to listen to the calls of youth and give concrete answers to the issues hindering youth development in both continents. She further stated that the African and EU leaders will discuss the future of EU-Africa relations.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cote d’Ivoire, H.E Mr. Marcel Amon-Tanoh welcomed all the participants of the joint AU-EU Ministerial meeting to Abidjan and wished them successful deliberations during the sessions.

Background

At the African Union Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda from 10 to 18 July 2016, Côte d’Ivoire was designated to host the 5th Summit African Union-European Union. This Summit serves as a platform for dialogue between African and European countries to boost the partnership between the two Parties and is held alternately on each continent.

This Summit is the third of its kind to be held on the African continent and the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. Participants will discuss progress made in the implementation of the 2014-2017 action plan adopted at the previous Brussels Summit and the way forward for defining the Africa-EU Joint Strategy in the light of the new issues facing both continents.

The challenges of this Summit are important for both Africa and Europe as it will focus on the common challenges facing both continents, such as peace and security, inclusive and creative growth as well as employment for young people.


Joint African Union-European Union Ministerial Meeting

Remarks by H.E. Mr. Kwesi Quartey, AUC Deputy Chairperson

Let me begin by thanking the Government and people of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire for hosting the 5th African Union-European Union Summit. Thank you for the excellent work put into the organization of this Summit and ensuring we have a serene and focused environment to conduct successful deliberations for the sake of our African youth.

I also thank the distinguished foreign ministers of Africa and Europe for taking the time out of their busy schedules to convene here for deliberation on our joint development, as well as peace and security, plans for the coming years.

I also thank the European Union Delegation for the significant efforts they invested preparations, deliberations and for the cooperative approach they have demonstrated throughout the process. This is a token of the growing strength of our relationship. The African Union is committed to deepening this relationship in a way that is mutually beneficial to both continents.

The 5th AU-EU Summit organized under the theme: “Investing in Youth” is being held three years after the 4th Summit held in Brussels, in April 2014, where we adopted the Africa-EU partnership roadmap 2014-2017, under the theme: “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace”.

This reinforces our theme of the year for 2017, namely “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in youth”, as well as our efforts to capitalize on Africa’s demographic buldge and invest in our youth to derive the dividend from this investment. Africa has the world’s largest proportion of young people. By 2100, the African young working population is projected to rise by 2.1 billion, thereby increasing Africa’s share in the world’s working age population to over 40 percent compared to the current 12 percent. This can be a crisis, or an opportunity. We intend to make it an opportunity.

Estimates show that capitalizing on the African demographic dividend could potentially add 500 billion dollars per year to its GDP. The real annual GDP per capita on the continent can increase up to 2000 dollars by 2050 compared to the current average of 600 dollars. This will represent a potentially significant improvement in the lives of the average African household. But this can happen only if we invest in education and training. This is the only way to develop human capital that is value which creates and increase this value. This is the classic definition of capital developed.

This summit presents an opportunity for our Continent and its young people. We can no longer pay lip-service to dealing with the myriad of issues facing our youth. The AU and its Member States strive to create economic opportunities through regional integration, trade facilitation, and provision of an enabling investment environment. We also strive to enhance societal and political resilience on the Continent for the benefit of current and future generations.

It is only through good governance and democracy and the rule of law that our strategic partnerships can render the relationship truly beneficial, notably that with the EU, can we achieve and deliver on those priorities. We believe that with our partnership with the EU, we can achieve and deliver on these priorities. Between Europe and Africa, our geographic proximity and long historical relationship, could be a great strategic advantage.

We have made significant progress in our partnership over the past two decades since it was forged in 2000. We have reinforced the capacities of conflict resolution and counter-terrorism. But challenges, undoubtedly remain. The slave trade is rearing its ugly head once again. We need to address this phenomenon totally and completely. We urge the ICC to take an interest in this development. Ensuring that such support is made predictable and sustainable requires the cooperation of key world actors, notably the UN and the EU.

We have also managed to make significant contributions to creation of economic opportunity through mobilizing investments in agriculture, energy, infrastructure, industry, ICT and other vital sector for Africa’s economy. We are encouraged by Mme Mogherini’s statements that the EU aims to mobilize over 40 billion euros in foreign direct investment in Africa over the coming years. We would like to be consulted on how this development is utilized. On this point, we would like to commend the German Presidency of G20, for its compact with Africa. Funding education and training for every African child could be a real game-changer and could be the solution to the migration phenomenal. We agree that the enabling investment environment is a key ingredient to realize those targets that can stand to improve the livelihoods of our youth.

We have worked together to enhance accession to, and domestication of, AU governance instruments, which stand to enhance stability and build strong institutions, not only for the benefit of Africa but the world at large. We also look forward to enhance the mobility and migration dialogue that should inform our policy making. In that regard, our focus will be on the best interest of young people in Africa and Europe through expanding their professional opportunities.

At this point, I would like to thank the Senior Officials comprising representatives of member states of the African Union and European Union and both commissions for the pain-staking deliberations they have put into finalizing the outcome documents before this meeting today for adoption. Using the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) as the base, our focus for the coming years will continue to be on four key priority areas of cooperation: 1. Investing in people – education, science, technology and technology and skills development, 2. Strengthening resilience, peace, security and governance, 3. Mobilizing investments for Africa’s structural transformation, as well as 4. Migration and Mobility.

Finally, I wish us all a productive meeting. I believe that the rich and heartfelt discussions we will have will undoubtedly forge stronger bonds between Africa and Europe and result in a feasible and robust strategy to guide our partnership in the years to come.

I thank you.


Opening remarks by High-Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini

This is the first Ministerial Meeting we have since 2014 and the last Ministerial Meeting we had was in Brussels just before the last Summit.

I believe – and I start with something concrete to put on the table – that real partners, brothers and sisters as we are, deserve to meet a bit more regularly and often. And this is why I am very pleased that in our draft declaration, we make reference to regular annual meetings at Ministerial level, because we have work to do together.

It is important that we – as strategic partners – work together on a regular basis; that we are meeting more frequently, ideally annually as I said, to take forward the decisions made at the Summit, to discuss any urgent issue that come up. And actually we are seeing the developments globally require us to come together more often to shape the global agenda or to react to the global agenda or to regional issues that we share.

I am pleased that we have taken this up in our political declaration and that, hopefully, this will be adopted by the Summit tomorrow.

I see that we have a level of participation today at Ministerial level and tomorrow at the Summit, that is somehow a record level of participation. I think this reflects the political importance we attach to this event, and at the same time, we have a very concrete output-oriented work and discussion ahead of us, that – I believe – reflects the need to get to business and do things together on an even more intense basis.

Africa and Europe have never been so much linked as now. We are only 14 kilometers apart and finally, this is reflected in the way in which we take our political partnership seriously, in our reciprocal work.

Our strategic interest on both sides is today for real, that of deepening and strengthening what is a longstanding partnership and relationship but with a new sense of ownership and belonging. I think that both in Africa and in Europe, it is self-evident these days that being it on security, on economy, on climate, on migration, on all the issues we have on the top of the agenda internally, our partnership and our common work can bring results in a way that otherwise separately, we would not achieve, neither in Europe nor in Africa.

I think that the basis for this new partnership as we have defined it in the preparation of this Summit is, first of all, a partnership among equals, a respectful dialogue and cooperation, based on mutual ownership and mutual respect, and on the principle of shared responsibility to which many of you already referred.

If you think of what we managed to achieve in this last couple of years, together and only together, on the global level, you can think of the Agenda 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals or the Paris agreement on climate change, that would not have been there, if Africa and Europe were not coming together on the global scene.

If you look at our membership, we have 82 of the 193 countries in the United Nations. This means that if you put together Europe and Africa, we definitely can shape and determine the global agenda for good – and I say for good, because we are living times of complication and challenges and uncertainties. Times where especially multilateralism and multilateral institutions are put into question, and both in Africa and for sure, I can tell you, in the European Union, deep in our DNA, there is the strong belief that multilateral institutions and the multilateral system, starting from the U.N. system, are at the core of any rules-based global order that is sustainable.

We often refer to sustainable development. It is time to refer also to sustainable security and to have an inclusive approach that allows our societies to prosper in a sustainable manner.

We share interests, challenges and concerns, and I believe that with this Summit, we will also share solutions to face the challenges of today. I will not go into details, I think that this is for the debate today and for the Summit tomorrow, but a lot of work has already been prepared and done in a very relevant manner. I will just mention the main headlines where our strategic partnership and cooperation is vital, both for Europe and for Africa.

First of all, peace and security. I know that the European Union is often perceived as an economic player. We are increasing the level of cooperation on peace and security, we have always been there for Africa in this. But, I think that today, the security challenges we are facing, starting from radicalization and terrorism to trafficking and criminal organisations, are binding us together, and, there are only common solutions if you want to have effective solutions.

Economy – this is why we have put in place this [European] External Investment Plan that will mobilise private investments in the most fragile areas of the [African] continent.

This is probably what some refer to as the “Marshall Plan for Africa”. We do not like the idea of a “Marshall Plan for Africa”. We like the idea of a partnership that mobilises resources together and this is exactly what we are putting in place. But, I would like to remind us all that the European Union and its Member States already mobilise more than €20 billion every single year, when it comes to Africa and partnership with Africa. With this new External Investment Plan, we will bring in the private sector and try to have investments that create good and sustainable jobs especially targeting our young people – your young people – and improve the business environment.

Climate change – I know this comes always at last, but I think that, both in Europe and in Africa, we realise that this is a common challenge we face and this is reality on which we need to act together, fast and globally.

Governance – where I believe we have to listen to each other and to find good solutions, sustainable solutions, but also solutions that guarantee democracy, rule of law, human rights and an adequate role for youth and women in our societies. Youth is the main centre, the main objective of our [African Union-European Union] Summit; tomorrow, we will be meeting the youth representatives. So, all of you, and your Heads of State or Government are invited to join myself and Moussa Faki [Mahamat] in meeting them, to listen to what kind of solutions – not only for the future but also for the present – they have to suggest for our decision-making. I believe this is extremely important.

And, last but not least, the issue of migration and mobility. I say “last but not least” because this is not a Summit on migration. This is a Summit on partnership and political and economic common work. But, we cannot close our eyes on the common responsibility we have, to protect lives, save lives, open also regular channels for migration and mobility, to offer economic alternatives to our young people in Africa.

But, first and foremost, to dismantle the criminal networks that are making money out of, sometimes, slavery – the images we have seen are shocking. But, as an Italian, I can tell you they are not new.

So, I think that we have, finally, the possibility together – African Union, European Union, Member States of the two Unions – to come together and solve this problem once and for all, in a sense of partnership and cooperation and respect for human dignity and international norms.

This is something that, as European Union, we have been doing together with our Libyan friends, but most of all with the UN agencies that are working now in Libya, thanks to the European Union support: the IOM [International Organisation for Migration] and the UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees]. We count on the African friends, brothers and sisters, to join forces with us, with the UN system, to save lives of our brothers and sisters, who do not deserve to be in conditions that are inhuman.

We are there for this and we would expect this Summit to send a very strong message of cooperation and partnership. Because I really believe that, if Africa and Europe come together to face this problem, for real and seriously, we can show an excellent example for the rest of the world. Helping also the UN system to define Global Compacts for migration and refugees, that are at the level of the human rights standards that we both want to see for our people.

With that, Mr. [Moussa Faki Mahamat] Chairperson, I thank you very much and I wish us all an excellent stay here in this wonderful country. Thank you.