Apr 03, 2014
Making the most of opportunities – hand in hand
Europe and Africa aim to cooperate more closely. Representatives of the 28 EU member states and 54 African states today ended their summit meeting in Brussels. Participants agreed that Africa has moved from being a continent of crises to a continent of opportunities.
- Apr 02, 2014
- Apr 03, 2014
After the first day’s discussions the participants gather for the “family photo”Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler
In future, better use is to be made of these opportunities and prospects.
Peace and security, but also education and training, growth and prosperity, good governance, democracy, development and climate were on the summit agenda.
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, welcomed the strengthening of cooperation between Africa and the European Union. Both sides benefit from closer cooperation, he said. Europe needs Africa’s help to tackle climate change and in the field of migration.
The EU, in turn, has long provided financial, civilian and military assistance to help solve conflicts and generate greater security on the African continent. Over and above this, Europe is an important trading partner for Africa. Trade liberalisation will benefit both sides.
Trade not aid
The European Union aims increasingly to foster development in Africa by expanding trade rather than by means of development assistance. “Over the past ten years we have doubled the volume of trade between Africa and Europe, but we can do more,” said Herman Van Rompuy after the two-day summit meeting in Brussels.
The EU hopes to raise up to 30 billion euros in conjunction with private businesses, which are to be channelled through joint projects to enhance infrastructure in Africa. Legal certainty is, however, indispensable, if European companies are to engage in Africa, warned the Council President.
Working together to stem illegal migration
European and African states aim to tackle illegal migration. In a joint statement, the participating states pledged to end trafficking in people, to better secure borders and to reduce poverty. At the same time, legal migration is to be promoted, so that African workers do have the opportunity to come to Europe. This should put an end to refugee dramas, like those seen recently off Lampadusa, continued Herman Van Rompuy.
José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, praised the progress made in relations between Europe and Africa. The summit was a process that has brought us all much closer, he said. Now the two sides intend to move forward “hand in hand”. In spite of all problems and difficulties, Africa is an emerging continent.
Greater engagement in Africa
On the first day of the summit Germany and France announced that they would be working for a closer partnership between Europe and Africa. The two countries intend to be the “driver” underscored Chancellor Angela Merkel on the side-lines of the EU-Africa Summit in Brussels. Germany aims to demonstrate more responsibility on the continent.
The Chancellor and the French President François Hollande declared their intention of acting together in Africa, during the EU-Africa Summit. Germany and France are extremely close, stressed Angela Merkel, “not only in terms of bilateral relations, but also in terms of our engagement around the world.”
Germany and France pursue parallel approaches in development and security policy, underscored the Chancellor.
A young continent of opportunities
“Our neighbouring continent, Africa, is becoming increasingly important,” underlined the Chancellor during the summit meeting. Africa is a young continent; half of its population is under the age of eighteen. These people are demanding democracy and development.
Angela Merkel called for an expansion of economic relations. The focus should be on investing in people, so that Africa becomes a self-assured continent, able to resolve its own problems. Europe can support Africa with more trade, more investment and more help towards self-help.
Cooperation also covers the fight against illegal migration and trafficking, said the Chancellor. “On the other hand, we want to give legal migration a chance, and with it the young people of Africa the opportunity to work and exercise a profession in Europe too”.
Developments in the Central African Republic
The summit meeting was overshadowed by the violence in the Central African Republic. In response, the European Union has now officially deployed a long-planned contingent of almost 1,000 soldiers in the Central African Republic.
In Brussels, the EU states gave the go-ahead for the military operation. The troops are to restore law and order in Bangui, the capital city, including the airport.
Strengthening ownership in Africa
The “Enable and Enhance Initiative” (E2I) played an important part at the summit. In this way, “we aim to enable Africans to build their own security structures, and to equip them with the necessary materials,” reported Angela Merkel. The summit also provided a forum to discuss the initiative with African partners.
The “Enable and Enhance” initiative aims to enable African partners, including the African Union, regional organisations and individual states, increasingly to take charge of their own stability and security, through training, advisory services and the provision of equipment.