The first Joint Task Force (JTF) meeting since the holding of the Summit in November 2010 took place in Brussels, on the 4th and 5th April. The aim was to the kick-off the implementation of the Second Action Plan (2011-2013) adopted by African and European leaders at the Tripoli summit.
This JTF prepared the ground for the next College to College meeting in June and provided fresh momentum to the partnership, bringing together the key stakeholders: representatives of the AUC, the EC and the EEAS, the co-Chairs of the thematic partnerships, representatives of the European Parliament, civil society representatives and private sector. Representatives of the Committee of Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee also attended the meeting. The meeting discussed cross cutting issues and each of the thematic partnerships. It also stressed on the need of effective outreach and closer cooperation with private sector as well as other institutions,
like the European Investment bank, the African Development Bank, etc.
AUC Chairperson Jean Ping meets with the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy in Brussels, 04/04/2011
The policy dialogue will now take place in a new institutional setting. The Lisbon treaty established the European External Action Service with a mandate to lead the preparation of political dialogue meetings at Summit, Ministerial and Senior Officialslevels. The EEAS is responsible to ensuring the overall coherence and coordination of the JAES on the EU side and provide political impetus. It will also be responsible for the Africa EU thematic policy dialogue on issues pertainingPeace and Security and governance and human rights, in cooperation with the European Commission.
The European Commission, together with the EEAS, shares responsibilities in the implementation of the Action Plan; this also includes the organisation and the follow up of the 6-montlhy meetings of the Joint Task Force. Within the European Commission, the newly re-organized DG for Development and Cooperation –EuropeAid will have a dedicated Unit for Pan-African issues and insure the coordination of all the European Commission's DGs involved in the partnership. Both EU institutions, EEAS and Commission, will focus on enhanced political dialogue, effective working arrangements, a more common approach when dealing with thematic partnerships, improved communication and outreach.
The AU Ambassador J.K. Shinkaiye reiterated the African proposal for the establishment of an "African Integration Facility" to support the implementation of the Joint Strategy and its Action Plan. The proposal to finance this Facility from national and regional envelopes of all countries concerned was welcomed by the European Commission and will need to be further developed. The EC is currently reflecting on how to find a more viable financial solution within the next financial perspectives, for the post-2013 budget.
The upcoming College to College meeting will be hosted in Brussels on 31 May- 1 June 2011.