Thursday, July 25, 2024
CommentaryActions say more than words: The growing EU-AU Partnership

Actions say more than words: The growing EU-AU Partnership

Every day we are working to make the European Union (EU)-African Union (AU) partnership stronger and closer to the people of Africa and Europe. Our day-to-day engagement testifies that the relationship between Europe and Africa is made of unparalleled human, cultural, geographical and economic links, not incantations, promises and affirmations.

At the 6th EU-AU Summit in February 2022, over 80 leaders from Africa and Europe met in Brussels to adopt an ambitious agenda and to sustain a partnership of peace, security, solidarity and prosperity based on equality, respect and mutual understanding. 

Europe and Africa need each other to build a solid and lasting response to global and common challenges, from climate change to peace and security or economic development that affect us all. The partnership between the European Union and the African Union, rooted in dialogue and multilateralism, is solution-oriented and forward-looking.

Europe and Africa are joint stakeholders in a multilateral, rules-based international system. The EU and its Member States were among the first to express full support for the integration of the AU within the G20; the EU supports Africa in its ambitions to become a key global player.

Together, the AU and the EU can be pillars in the defense of a rules-based world, where sovereignty, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination are safeguarded.

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The European Union is deeply committed to the safety and prosperity of its neighbors, as it is also a condition for our own security and prosperity and we strive to be a reliable and predictable partner. In times of rising global food insecurity, the EU stands by its commitment to facilitate the export of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine.

We would like to repeat that from day one, the EU has exempted food and agricultural inputs (including fertilizers) from its sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation. Complementary to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the EU has set up the EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes through which almost 61 million tons of cereals leave Ukraine by land.

While it is often quoted that only a minor percentage of agricultural products exported from Ukraine has reached African consumers directly, the combined economic effects of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the Solidarity Lanes have resulted in a 23 percent decrease in the price index for grain on the global market.

Looking beyond the immediate need to mitigate price volatility for foodstuffs on the global market, the EU will have mobilized by 2024 almost EUR seven billion to improve food security in Africa; more than EUR three billion has already been disbursed. This includes the EU’s contributions to the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.

Other initiatives, such as the Alliance on Sustainable Cocoa (EU, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana) are enhancing the resilience of food systems and the sustainability of agri-value chains.

As agreed at the EU-AU Summit, to strengthen quality infrastructure, nearly EUR 150 billion of investments will be mobilized by 2027 in Africa as part of the “Global Gateway Investment” strategy. These investments are already taking place today and the European Union is translating commitments made at the Summit into reality.

In Kenya, support is provided for the installation of fiber optics and the development of a rapid bus system in Nairobi. In Burkina Faso, the EU is the main partner for rural and renewable electrification projects, in particular the Yelen project, which benefits 110,000 households. Investments in health (the Global Gateway flagship initiative MAV+ on manufacturing and access to vaccines with over EUR one billion of investment in Rwanda, South-Africa, Senegal, Ghana) and digital (investment of up to EUR 820 million in Nigeria’s digital transformation) are just two other examples. 

The concrete and tangible results are here. They confirm the EIU as Africa’s prime partner at all levels, on trade, investments and development. Europe has been and will remain a long-standing partner of Africa – the recent renewal of the agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, in existence since 1975, is just one more demonstration of our commitment.

On peace and security, notwithstanding multiple crises across the globe, the EU has sustained its support to AU and African-led peace support operations. Again, this translates commitments made at the 6th EU-AU Summit into action. For the period 2022–24, EUR 600 million is being allocated to these missions via the European Peace Facility (EPF), complementing support under other development instruments. An example is EU support to the African transition mission in Somalia (AMISOM/ATMIS) amounting to EUR 2.7 billion since 2007. The eleven training and assistance missions on the continent are another testimony of EU’s support to African partners’ peace and security objectives.

Africa has and will continue to remain a key area of operations with EPF support. The total Team Europe’s commitment for Conflict Prevention, Mediation, and Peace and Security initiatives at national and regional level is expected to amount to EUR 1.5 billion from 2021 until 2027.

While others seek to divide, the EU in its partnership with Africa seeks to deliver and foster cooperation. The commitments made by some countries do not stand up to the test of time. Conversely, the EU and its Member states have consistently invested in Africa and facilitated the duty free access of African exports in the EU. 

As a tangible sign of our willingness to engage in a partnership that concretely benefits Africa, 33 of the least developed African countries have benefitted from the most favorable customs regime, removing tariffs and quotas for all imports of goods – except arms and ammunition.

As of today, the EU is by far the main trade partner of the African continent, with a total volume of EUR 268 billion in 2021 and 90 percent of African exports entering the Union duty free. The EU is encouraged by the potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and has been supporting it since the beginning, contributing, under a Team Europe approach, with expertise, institutional capacity and exchanges on lessons learned.

The EU has its share of responsibility in global warming and is investing heavily to curb emissions in Europe. It also stands by the side of the countries that are victims of or are suffering from the consequences of global warming and need support in their climate transition.

We are supporting the AU’s Great Green Wall initiative for climate adaptation with EUR 700 million and are driving forces behind the decision to allocate USD 100 billion in special drawing rights (or equivalent contributions) to the most vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa.

The Summit for a new global financial pact held in Paris at the end of June, to which 25 African heads of states participated along with both AU and EU leadership, effectively contributed to reach that target and has paved the way to the next Africa Climate Summit to be held in Kenya in September. Thanks to the Common Framework of the G20 and the Paris Club, an agreement has been reached on the treatment of Zambia’s debt, a historic step for this country and the Zambian people. 

In all these developments, Europe is delivering. The overall funding for development cooperation by Team Europe went up by almost 30 percent in 2022 worldwide, with EU assistance to Africa increasing by 11 percent for the period 2021–2027, when compared to 2014–2020.

While we are working on the organization of the next Ministerial meeting between the African Union and the European Union, where we will take stock of our joint achievements to date, we wish to reaffirm our continued determination and commitment to strengthen our partnership in solidarity with Africa, with a view to contributing together to global peace, security and prosperity.

This article is written by Ambassadors of the European Union and its Member States.

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