The European Commission promotes democracy and growth with its African Union partners

EU The African Union (AU) Commission and the European Commission are meeting in Brussels for their 5th annual College-to-College session. They will move forward on a joint agenda of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership and focus their discussion on two pressing issues of present concern: democracy and growth.

The profound democratic transformations that are currently taking place in Northern Africa deserve the whole-hearted support of all international actors, with an aim of strengthening political and economic governance across the African continent. At the same time, as the world is emerging from the economic crisis, a crucial common challenge for both Africa and Europe is to kick-start growth and focus on inclusive and sustainable development for Africa, eyes firmly on achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said prior to the meeting: “The encouraging historical changes on the African continent present tremendous opportunities to enhance the relations between our continents. Our two Commissions will continue to serve as the engines of the ambitious Joint EU-Africa Partnership. Together we can achieve real progress for the people of Europe and Africa, by tackling global issues, by creating more opportunities for trade, investment and inclusive development, and by addressing the people’s aspirations for democratic reforms and social justice.”

The Strategic Partnership between Africa and the EU pursues common objectives beyond the traditional donor-recipient focus, in a dialogue of equal counterparts. The EU is the biggest trading partner for the African continent. In 2009, 36% of total imports to Africa originated in Europe. The European institutions are also the second biggest donor worldwide for Africa. The European Commission has committed €24.4 billion through its various financial instruments for the period 2007-2013 in support of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and its thematic partnerships.

Discussions aim at strengthening the political and technical cooperation between the two institutions, provide fresh impetus to the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and elements for the future political agenda.

Agenda of the College-to-College meeting

The programme of the meeting between the two Commissions is divided between thematic cluster meetings of Commissioners, bilateral meetings and a plenary session, which takes place in the morning of 1 June.

On 31 May, cluster meetings will cover: Political Affairs; Regional Integration, trade and infrastructure; Social Affairs; Climate Change and Environment; Economic governance and raw material. President Jose Manuel Barroso and AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping will meet bilaterally.

On 1 June, cluster meetings will cover: Administrative cooperation; Agriculture, food security and safety; Science, ICT, Space. The topic of the joint plenary session of the two Colleges is “Consolidating Growth and Democracy”.

At 12h40 on 1 June (tbc), President Jose Manuel Barroso and AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping will hold a joint press conference

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