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African Union-European Union Summit: Investing in youth for a sustainable future


African Union-European Union Summit: Investing in youth for a sustainable future

African Union-European Union Summit: Investing in youth for a sustainable future
Photo credit: 5th AU-EU Summit

The 5th African Union-European Union Summit took place on 29-30 November in Abidjan, under the overarching theme of Youth. The Summit brought together leaders from 55 African Union and 28 European Union Member States.

The EU was represented by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the President of the Council of the EU Donald Tusk, joined by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy & Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, Vice-President responsible for the EU’s Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica. The African Union was represented by the President of the African Union Alpha Condé and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat.

On the occasion, President Juncker said: “We spoke a lot about young people during this summit. Already today, the majority of African citizens are under 25 years old, and by the middle of this century, one in four people on earth will be African. But this demographic dividend cannot deliver without smart investments. This is precisely why we are going to put our investments in education, in infrastructure, in peace and security, as well as in good governance – all of which will in turn inspire good business environments and create much needed jobs and growth.” Read the President’s full remarks here.

In their political declaration, the European and African leaders set out their joint commitment to invest in youth for a sustainable future. Concretely, they committed to focussing their work on four strategic priorities. On this basis, the European and African Union Commission will put forward concrete projects and programmes within three months.

Mobilising investments for African structural and sustainable transformation

European leaders presented, and African partners welcomed the EU’s innovative External Investment Plan (EIP), which will mobilise €44 billion of private investments for sustainable development and job creation. Special attention will be paid to enhancing entrepreneurship of women and young people. The newly launched Sustainable Business for Africa Platform (SB4A) will allow for structured dialogue with the European and African private sector.

Investing in people through education, science, technology and skills development

The importance of supporting inclusive education and vocational training was highlighted. Leaders also agreed to enhance the mobility of students, staff and academics across the African continent, as well as exchange programmes between Africa and Europe, such as ERASMUS+.

Strengthening Resilience, Peace, security and governance

Leaders will step up their work to enhance peace and security on both continents. In this regard, they will strengthen strategic, political and operational cooperation between the African Union and European Union, in close partnership with the United Nations. Support to ongoing work to fight against terrorism was reiterated, including the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram, the Joint Force of the G5 Sahel and the African Union Mission in Somalia, to all of which the EU is the biggest contributor.

Managing mobility and migration

European and African leaders reaffirmed their strong political commitment to address the root causes of irregular migration in a spirit of genuine partnership and shared responsibility, and in full respect of international laws and human rights, as well as creating legal pathways for migration. Leaders committed to deepen cooperation on migration and mobility in a joint framework, including a continental dialogue between Africa and Europe.

They stressed the imperative need to improve the conditions of migrants and refugees in Libya, and to undertake all necessary action to provide them with the appropriate assistance and to facilitate their voluntary repatriation to their countries of origin, as well as durable solutions for refugees.

In order to jointly address the dramatic situation of migrants and refugees victims of criminal networks, in particular inside Libya, President Jean-Claude Juncker, and High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat agreed to set up a joint EU-AU-UN Task Force to save and protect lives of migrants and refugees along the routes and in particular inside Libya. Furthermore, efforts will be intensified to enhance intra-African mobility and the free movement of persons within Africa.

Preparatory events in the run-up to the AU-EU Summit

The AU-EU Summit was preceded by a number of important events, including civil society, local authorities, economic and social actors, as well as European and Pan-African Parliament.

Young leaders from Africa and Europe gathered at the Youth Summit on 9-11 October in Abidjan, and their work intensified in the context of the AU-EU Youth Plugin-Initiative. They developed a Youth Declaration with concrete proposals to leaders, which have provided a valuable impetus in preparing and shaping the outcomes of the AU-EU Summit. Youth representatives furthermore had the chance to address African and European leaders during the Summit to present these proposals.

The 6th EU-Africa business forum took place on 27 November, where business leaders, investors, innovative start-ups, and young and female entrepreneurs from both continents developed recommendations on how to improve the business and investment climate.

On the day before the Summit, Ministers of Foreign Affairs from Europe and Africa gathered in Abidjan for a Ministerial meeting, co-chaired by the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini.


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