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Friday, 28 March 2014 20:08

The EU and Africa: A Strategic Partnership

BRUSSELS, Belguim, March 28, 2014 (EU/Africa) — Europe and Africa are neighbours: continents bound together by a shared history, culture, geography, and by the close exchanges between our peoples. Cooperation between the European Union and Africa has reflected the rich and diverse nature of relations between the two continents.

In 2007, EU and African Heads of State adopted the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) as the overarching political framework defining cooperation between the two continents based on a shared vision and common principles. The Africa-EU Partnership, enshrined in the JAES, represents a new forward-looking vision for relations between Europe and Africa. Based on the acknowledgement of the solidarity and commonality of interests between Africa and Europe.. It seeks to establish a partnership of equals, determined to tackle issues of common concern together.

Since its adoption, the Partnership has both deepened and extended cooperation. It is today the main vehicle for achieving our joint vision for shared prosperity and peace, at the service of the peoples of Europe and Africa.

From Lisbon to Brussels: Transformations in Africa and Europe

Since the adoption of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy in Lisbon in 2007, both continents have undergone profound economic and political changes.

Africa has experienced impressive economic transformation. Its average GDP grew by 5.2% p.a. over the period 2003-2011. In 2012, 8 out of the world's 10 fastest growing economies were African. Demographic trends have been equally remarkable: Africa has the youngest and fastest growing population in the world, both a challenge and an opportunity. African integration advanced, with the adoption of a growing number of measures taken by the AU and regional organisations to promote closer cooperation.

Europe has changed as well. In the last 10 years, the EU has grown from 15 to 28 member states and has taken steps towards greater integration through the creation of the Euro and adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. Europe is also just emerging from a serious recession and needs a period of sustained growth to help reduce unemployment rates in its states.

The 2014 Brussels Summit: Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace

After previous meetings held in Cairo (2000), Lisbon (2007) and Tripoli (2010), the 4th EU-Africa Summit will take place in Brussels on 2-3 April 2014.

Under the headline theme 'Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace', the Summit will highlight the remarkable breadth and scope of cooperation between the two continents. Attended by over 40 African and 20 European Heads of State and Government, it reflects the high level commitment to the partnership and determination to deepen it.

Investing in People

Investing in people lies at the heart of the EU-Africa Partnership. Over the past 7 years, Africa and the EU have worked together to improve the livelihoods of people in areas where the preoccupation of citizens are the greatest.

Africa achieved concrete results in unlocking the professional potential of people through training, education and skills in line with the Millennium Development Goals. Thanks to EU aid, 3.4 million people received technical and vocational training (MDG1) between 2007 and 2013. During the same period 9.4 million new pupils enrolled in Primary Education (MDG 2), and so far 170.000 new female students have enrolled in secondary education, regardless of age in Africa (MDG 3).

Close links in terms of academic exchange and research have been forged between both continents. Through the Erasmus Mundus programme, more than 1500 students across Africa have received scholarships for Joint Master Degrees. Over 3000 students and 750 academic staff have had the opportunity to study abroad in the framework of exchange programmes financed under the Erasmus Mundus Action 2 partnerships. Under the EU's Seventh Programme for Research (FP7) over 600 research projects from 45 African countries have received a total amount of €178 million in funding to conduct research in the fields of food security, climate change, health and energy.

Increased mobility between Africa and Europe is creating new opportunities for improved livelihoods in Africa through remittances, i.e. money transfers by migrant workers. Between 2007 and 2012 global remittances to Africa grew by 34.5% and reached a total amount of USD 60.4 billion in 2012. The same year, for the first time, remittances became the largest external financial source to Africa, ahead of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Official Development Assistance (ODA), with 35% of global remittances to Africa originating in the EU1.

African partners have achieved improved access to health in Africa. Through EU financial assistance to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, 5.1 million children under one year of age have been immunised against measles in Africa between 2004 and 2013 (MDG 4). Improvements have also been achieved in regards to maternal health, where 5.4 million births were attended by skilled health personnel (MDG 5). The EU helped provide antiretroviral combination therapy to 261,000 people with advanced HIV infection (MDG 6). 41 million people have been connected to improved drinking water (MDG 7).

With EU support, Africa improved access to modern energy services for over 18.2 million people between 2007 and 2012. Over the same period, the EU helped provide access to electricity to over 600.000 households, 15,700 kilometres of electricity lines were installed and 78,000 jobs in the energy sector were created.

Cooperation in the field of democracy and human rights has reaped important results. Europe has supported African efforts to reinforce democratization process in many African states. Since 2007, 38 election observation missions have been deployed by the EU in Africa, often in conjunction with AU and regional organisations, to consolidate democracy and increase citizens' trust in public institutions. The EU supported the launch of the African Peer Review Mechanism to increase adoption of policies, standards and practices with over €2 million. The EU and AU have held a regular Human Rights dialogue on an annual basis since 2008.

Africa and Europe have worked hand in hand to tackle climate change through effective collaboration in international fora. Continental cooperation proved critical in agreeing at the UN Climate conference in Durban in 2011 a road-map towards a new legally-binding international climate deal for all parties by 2015. Africa is also the main recipient of climate related ODA of which the EU Commission alone has provided over €3.7 billion since 2002.

Investing in Prosperity

Since 2007, relations between Africa and Europe have been put on a new footing. The Partnership helped both continents to seize opportunities of growing together and creating jobs through trade and investment.

Trade between the two continents continues to grow. Between 2007 and 2012, EU imports from Africa increased by 46%. In 2012, the EU imported African goods worth €187 billion (i.e. less than 10% of total extra-EU imports). African imports from the EU amounted to €152 billion in 2012. Throughout this time the EU remained Africa's prime source of imports (34% of total African imports) as well as its main export market (40% of African exports). In total 37% of African trade took place with the EU in 2012.

Investment exchange between Africa and the EU develops in both directions. In 2012, the EU accounted for 48% of FDI stocks (€221 billion) and 21% of global FDI flows (€7.8 billion) to Africa. African investments in Europe have also made strides over the last 10 years: direct investment stocks held by African investors in the EU have increased by more than 700% to reach €77 billion in 20122. The EU is spearheading innovative financing solutions such as 'blending', using its aid to make commercial investments more viable. To date over 80 grants to infrastructure projects in Africa, representing a total value of over €6.5 billion, have been awarded by the EU.

Europe remains Africa's biggest development partner. From 2007 and 2013 EU and its member states disbursed around €141 billion in aid to support Africa's development. In 2012 and despite adverse economic developments at home, EU member states committed over €18.5 of ODA, representing 45% of global ODA to Africa.

In Africa, the livelihoods of about 60% of the population depend on agriculture. The EU supports Africa's efforts for the transformation of its agriculture in order to build resilience in the face of food crises but also to build a profitable and globally competitive sector, in line with the African Year of Agriculture and Food Security. The EU has disbursed over €3.5 billion for food security in Africa. 31.9 million people have been assisted through social transfers for food security over the last ten years. Between 2009 and 2011, in response to soaring food prices, the EU provided an additional €511 million of rapidly disbursable aid to African countries through its EU Food Facility.

Investing in Peace

Promoting peace and security is a firmly anchored priority of the EU-Africa partnership. It is a precursor for the development and welfare of the citizens of both continents. Africa has made great progress in assuming responsibility for ensuring peace and security in its continent. The EU, alongside the UN, has been fully supportive of Africa's efforts at regional and continental level to develop its own capacity to manage, resolve and prevent crises.

Through the African Peace Facility (APF), the EU has contributed more than €1.2 billion since 2004 to help finance many ongoing Africa-led Peace Support-Operations: more than €575 million have been committed so far to AMISOM in Somalia, €50 million to MISCA in Central African Republic (CAR) and €2 million for the Regional Cooperation Initiative against the Lord's Resistance Army. €443.7 million were provided to six completed missions in Sudan, the Comoros, CAR and Mali.

Furthermore, Capacity development programmes are being implemented aiming at the operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture at continental and regional level.

Since its setup in 2009, the APF's Early Response Mechanism has allowed the EU to support 21 African led actions in the area of conflict prevention such as first stages of mediation activities, fact finding missions and planning of Peace Support Operations. In 2013 only, the APF financed 7 initiatives in the Sahel region, Sudan and South Sudan, DRC, Mali, Central African Republic and Somalia with an amount of € 6.7 million.

Over the last decade, 16 crisis management missions under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions have been deployed in Africa to preserve peace and prevent conflict: seven military (ARTEMIS, DRC; EUFOR RD Congo; EUFOR, Chad/CAR; EU NAVFOR ATALANTA; EUTM, Somalia; EUTM, Mali; EUFOR RCA, CAR) and nine civilian (EUPOL Kinshasa, DRC; EUSEC DRC; Support to AMIS II, Sudan/Darfur; EUPOL DRC; EU SSR, Guinea-Bissau; EUAVSEC South Sudan; EUCAP NESTOR; EUCAP Sahel, Niger; EUBAM Libya). Over 2300 men and women are currently serving under the EU flag in support of African efforts to maintain peace and stability on the continent.

The EU is also actively engaged in the training and reform of security and defence forces to consolidate peace and stability. Two EU training missions in Somalia and Mali have provided training to over 12,800 military personnel in both countries.

As part of a regular political dialogue, the two Political and Security Committees of the EU and AU met on a yearly basis since the adoption of the JAES, both in Europe and Africa, to promote joint understanding and actions in the field of peace and security.



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