Developing closer political and technical co-operation, concentrating on the eight thematic partnerships in the remaining months of the First Action Plan (2008-2010) and providing guidance to the Africa-EU summit preparation were identified as key priorities at the recent African Union Commission - European Commission College-to-College (C2C) meeting.
The meeting was held at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa on 8 June. The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, accompanied by 10 European Commissioners, met with the African Union Chairperson, Jean Ping, and African Union Commissioners in plenary sessions, cluster meetings and bilateral meetings. In addition, the participation of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) was described in the joint declaration that followed as a crucial step towards enhancing partnerships.
“This 2010 edition of the C2C meeting comes at a very busy time internationally, with choices to be made about which paths to follow in terms of development and the global economy,” said Dr Ping. “It is a little less than three weeks from the G8 and G20 summits in Canada.” Injecting political momentum into the preparation of the 3rd Africa-EU Summit was seen as a priority, with the meeting taking place just a few months before the summit is due to take place in Libya in November 2010.
Joint Africa-EU Strategy
The meeting also tried to give fresh impetus to the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and its first Action Plan in the remaining months of 2010. “In support of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and its eight thematic partnerships, the European Commission alone has committed €24.4 billion through its various financial instruments for the period 2007-2013, €16 billion of which related to European Development Fund, including regional and national envelopes,” said President Barroso.
“The European Commission is in the early stages of submitting proposals for the future of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership. Moreover, the EU’s internal growth strategy - the Europe 2020 Strategy – that I have presented in the beginning of this year also takes into account the need to invest further in our relations with strategic partners, as Africa.”
Indeed, strengthening political and technical co-operation between the two institutions was identified at the meeting as crucial.
Peace and Security
In the joint declaration, both Commissions promised to maintain and strengthen efforts to improve the global management of crises and to address long-term threats to stability, peace and security in Africa, Europe and world-wide. The two Commissions also pledged to enhance Africa-EU political dialogue and cooperation on governance and human rights, and reaffirmed their commitment to regional and continental integration. A roadmap jointly elaborated by AUC and RECs/Regional Mechanisms will pave the way for more progress in the next years, as the basis for coherent and comprehensive EU financial support for its implementation.
The Commissions promised to work together for the swift adoption of a joint AU-EU political statement on the MDGs in view of the UN High Level Plenary Meeting on the MDGs in September 2010 and beyond.
Both the AU and the EU placed food security high on their developmental agendas, and promised to intensify cooperation within the framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP). New areas of cooperation in agriculture, such as geographical indications, organic farming, and strengthen farmers organisations in order to exchange best practice and to reinforce local capacity to elaborate effective agricultural policy framework will also be explored. The EU’s commitment to achieving the international goal of halving the number of people suffering from hunger by 2015, notably via the support to Africa national and regional CAADP compacts, was noted at the meeting.
The joint declaration also promised that both Commissions would work together in the field of health on key challenges including access to essential medicines, sexual and reproductive health and rights, maternal and child health and social protection.
The AU and EU also promised to strengthen cooperation in the field of energy in order to promote access to modern and sustainable energy services, thereby contributing to reaching the MDGs. Another goal is to improve energy security through increases in the capacity of cross border electricity interconnections, both within Africa and between Africa and Europe, and an increase in the use of natural gas in Africa.
Migration mobility and employment
The AU and EU also promised to continue cooperation on migration, mobility and employment, such as further involving diasporas in Africa's development, favouring cheaper, faster and more secure remittances, supporting employment and decent work with a special focus on social protection, fighting trafficking in human beings and preventing the smuggling of migrants within the framework of the Joint EU-Africa Declaration on Migration and Development. The Continental Policy Framework on Migration and the Ouagadougou Plan of Action on human trafficking should also continue to serve as a basis for EU-Africa cooperation in this area. In this regard, the two Commissions have entered into an agreement on a €3 million project to support the Africa-EU Partnership on Migration, Mobility and Employment.
Both Commissions also promised to pursue the implementation of Science, Information Society and Space initiatives approved under the 2008-2010 Action Plan. This is particularly relevant in the area of science, where the launch of a call under the African Research Grants initiative will start to provide the AUC with the requisite experience and management capacity to design a multi-annual African Research Framework.
Finally, Barroso commended the work of the AU under the chairmanship of Jean Ping and deputy chairperson Mwencha. “Africa has been through major transformations in the last years, and partly due to the impressive work the African Union has been undertaking. I would like therefore to commend your leadership, Chairperson, in raising the continental and international profile of the African Union Commission.
"Your institution has evolved as a central actor for defending our common principles of democracy and good governance. Today, you are an indispensable partner, both on the African continent and on the international stage.”