First visit of EU Commissioner Piebalgs to Ethiopia and the African Union, 6-8 May 2010

EU website. On 6 to 8 May, Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development, will pay his first official visit to Ethiopia. He will visit the headquarters of the African Union to hold a meeting with Jean Ping, President of the African Union Commission, and other AU Commissioners. On 8 May, he will meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and other government members, as well as representatives of Ethiopian civil society. He will notably discuss the progress of the EU-AU partnership, the preparations of the meeting between the two colleges of the European Commission and the African Union Commission due to take place on 8 June, as well as the upcoming EU-Africa Summit next November. Political and international issues in the region, including piracy, will be part of the discussion. As regard aid cooperation with Ethiopia, the Commissioner will sign four financing agreements with the Ethiopian Minister of Economy.

On the eve of his visit, EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs said: “This visit to Ethiopia comes at a time when major rendez-vous are ahead of us to make our common fight against poverty a reality. Africa is today a key partner of Europe: we share global challenges, such as climate change and migration, and we have to find common solution. This is what the Partnership with the African Union is about. My objective is to support Africa not only to face daily challenges but to shape its future based on sustainable growth and jobs creation”.

EU-African Union relations

In the framework of his first visit to the African Union, Commissioner Piebalgs will meet with the AU President, Jean Ping, the Deputy Chairperson Mr Mwencha, the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Mr. Lamamra as well as with a group of other AUC Commissioners. The African Union is a key partner of the EU since the launch of the EU-AU Partnership in December 2007. The Joint EU-Africa Strategy enables the two continents to work together on global issues ranging from climate change and energy, to migration, peace and security, trade and regional integration.

The next EU-Africa Summit is scheduled to take place on 29-30 November 2010. Preparations include a meeting between the two Commissions in early June. The Summit should agree a new Action Plan for the years 2011 and beyond, building on the successes of the 8 Partnerships.

During the visit to African Union, Commissioner will exchange views with AU Commissioners concerning security-related issues as well as grassroots problems causing piracy in the region.

EU-Ethiopia relations

The Commissioner’s visit to Ethiopia is an opportunity for high-level political dialogue with the Prime Minister. The Commissioner will notably discuss additional support which could be brought to Ethiopia to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, in the framework of the European Development Fund’s mid-term review. The Commissioner will also take this occasion to sign four financing agreements amounting €27.8 million with Ato Sufian Ahmed, Ethiopian Minister of Finance and Economic Development. These will focus on support for agricultural marketing development, improving and integrating animal health services, women’s empowerment and gender equality and support for the justice sector.

Background on political and cooperation relations with Ethiopia

Regarding the elections, an EU Electoral Observation Mission is being deployed for the elections in Ethiopia due to take place on 23 May 2010.

The EU EOM will stay in the country after the elections to assess the post-election period. The European Commission has made available up to € 8 million from the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), for this mission.

Ethiopia is the EU’s most important cooperation partner in sub-Saharan Africa, with aid from the Commission and Member States totalling almost €870 million in 2008. The European Commission’s aid programme is built around three priority sectors, namely transport and regional integration, rural development and food security as well as macroeconomic support and governance. Over the 6 years 2008-13, Ethiopia has an indicative allocation of €644 million under the European Development Fund to address these priorities.

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