Africa: Opening remarks by High Representative /Vice-President Josep Borrell at the press conference on the Joint Communication towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa
This is one of the most important international partnerships that we are going to build. That is why we are here, the two of us together [with Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen], to stress the fact that this joint communication is an important first step towards a new partnership with Africa. From now on, we need to engage with our African partners on establishing joint priorities.
We will have a summit with the African Union in October, which will be the culminating moment for our work on this Strategy with Africa, when we should jointly agree on common priorities and deliverables. We need to make our partnership visible and concrete for African and for European citizens alike.
The European Union is Africa’s first partner by all accounts: trade, investment, development, cooperation, security. We want this to continue, to scale it further and make it even more efficient. The European Union and the Member States – because the intergovernmental part and the community part have to work together – we have geopolitical interests in Africa. Our growth and security depends on what happens in Africa, maybe more than on any other part of the world.
If we want to reach our climate change goals and manage migration – just two pressing issues, migration and climate change – Africa is the key partner. There is nothing more important for us from the point of view of climate change and migration than what is going to happen in Africa. Africa can count on our renewed support to meet its objectives in terms of sustainable development, digitalisation, climate change and governance, peace and security.
After our meeting in Addis Ababa (link is external), I went to Sudan and I witnessed how much the youth play a determining role on Africa’s future. The future of Africa, as much as the future of Europe, will be determined by the response we give to their political and economic aspirations.
I want to stress how important our partnership is and is going to be. As High Representative and Vice-President of the Commission, this will be one of the most important endeavours I will have to face together with all the Commissioners of the cluster for a stronger Europe, and very much in particular Commissioner Urpilainen in charge of international partnerships. As I said at the beginning, this is one of the most important, maybe the most important international partnerships that we are going to work [on].
My last word is to reiterate that the European ties with Africa are not about or for Africa, nor about Europe or for Europe. It is about two continents, two sister continents that have to work together for the future of their people. That is why the communication that we are presenting today is a first step in a process that will take until the autumn of this year, and beyond, towards a new Strategy with Africa.
It is very difficult to stress how important it is, from many points of view, and especially for the most important political guidelines of the Commission – and climate change and migration are two of them, maybe the most important, but not the only ones. Digitalisation, wealth, job creation, the better understanding among our people is part of this rich and impressive work that we have in front of us.