EU This has been a very successful summit. Europe and Africa are natural partners. We are bound together by a shared history. But more important than the past is the shared future that we can build, based on common values and mutual interests.
In Lisbon, in 2007, we created a new and unique partnership of solidarity and equality. This Tripoli Summit was a timely opportunity to discuss the progress we have achieved, and to set out our more tangible ambitions for the future. I want to underline this point: A Summit is a catalyst, a process. There has been work before the Summit and there will be work after it. This gathering of the leaders of Europe and Africa gave a very important impetus to a process that is now further gaining in strength.
I think we all agreed that our EU-Africa Strategy is not just about what Europe can do for Africa or vice-versa, but about what we can do together.
We also agree that our Partnership must become broader and more operational to keep up with our changing times. Africa and Europe face new challenges. We need to work on new areas of common concern, and reach out more to the business sector and civil society. I underlined this during the discussions: Our work is not only between governments and diplomats. Of course, the input from our respective leaderships is very important, but the relationship between Europe and Africa is also about societies. That is why there were side events like the Business Summit and joint delegations of the European Parliament and the Pan-African parliament.
Our discussions had a particular focus on “investment, economic growth and job creation” – in short: on growth and jobs. This is more important and urgent for Europe and for Africa than ever. Both our continents are dealing with the fall-out of a serious economic crisis. Securing a sustainable recovery and creating employment in both continents is a challenge on which we can achieve much by working together.
Africa is a thriving continent with a huge untapped potential. We all know about difficulties in Africa, but I would like people not only to speak about those, but also about the potential and the achievements of Africa. The figures are very telling: Africa’s GDP rose by 4.9 percent a year from 2000 to 2008, more than twice the pace of growth in the 1980s and ’90s. And despite a slow-down in 2009 because of the financial crisis, it is again reaching the same levels. Private-investment inflows are also surging.
At the same time, Europe is already Africa’s biggest trading partner and the world’s biggest donor of development assistance. But we have much to gain if we move our cooperation to a new level.
We therefore discussed key levers to make this happen:
For instance how smart investments in key sectors like energy, climate action can benefit Africa, expand its already impressive growth and help achieve the MDGs. We discussed for instance the urgent issue of supporting infrastructure in Africa in a more coordinated and structured way.
Another major topic was agricultural security. We also looked at how the Doha Development Agenda can help Africa. Finally, it is clear we need a green energy revolution for Africa.
This is the very message that I conveyed in the G20 two week ago in Seoul where the European Union was supporting a much greater focus on development and specifically on African issues.
This Summit also addressed the issues of peace and security, a matter on which we work very closely with the African Union Commission chaired by my good friend Jean Ping. I want to pay tribute to his leadership and the commitment of the African Union Commission.
The issues of peace and security, the very basics of economic renewal, are linked to governance. You cannot have economic development if the basic conditions for peace are not fulfilled. In the context of this summit, we naturally raised urgent issues of conflict prevention and crisis management. I would like to underline the important difference the African resolve and the European support can make in this field. In Sudan, for instance, the important referendum on self determination will be held in five weeks time. In this crucial moment we have to encourage all parties to live up to their commitments to a peaceful transition.
We very much support the African Union and the President of its Commission Jean Ping who will take the lead facilitating role in close coordination with the United Nations and international partners, including the full support of the European Union. Our support is reflected in the deployment of a European election observation mission as well as substantial capacity building measures in the South.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This was a substantial Summit. When I compare it with other meetings we had in the past, this meeting was much more informal. The political atmosphere and dialogue have improved between Africans and Europeans. And we now have a joint programme with concrete targets and concrete goals. I therefore hope that Tripoli will be a very important catalyst and driver for further progress in the relationship between Africa and the European Union. I know that together we can achieve a lot.
Earlier in this Summit, I quoted that very old African proverb which says: “If you want to go fast, walk alone. But if you want to go far, walk together with others”.
This is precisely the message of this Summit – let’s stick together, Africans and Europeans. I believe that if we remain together, we can achieve great progress for the benefits of our peoples.
Opening speech by Council of the EU President Herman Van Rompuy at the Africa-EU Summit
Opening speech by European Commission President Barroso at the Africa-EU Summit: “The EU and Africa: consolidating our strategic partnership”
Opening speech by African Union President Dr Jean Ping at the Africa-EU Summit (for the French version click here)
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