Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense Philippe Goffin welcomes the adoption on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 of new conclusions of the Council of the European Union concerning the relationship between the European Union (EU) and Africa, to which Belgium has actively contributed and which will serve as a basis for discussions with a view to redefining our relationship with our African partners.
The EU and its member states are Africa’s main partner for trade and investment, security, development cooperation and humanitarian support. Thanks to the “Team Europe” initiative, the EU also intends to combine all its external actions in order to help its partners overcome the corona crisis, which has and will continue to have a definite influence on the EU-Africa relationship.
By adopting these conclusions, the Council of the European Union is determined to strengthen its relationship with African States (in all their diversity) and with the African Union in order to build a stronger political partnership, based on dialogue, as well as on mutual interests and commitments, on higher degrees of reciprocity, shared responsibility and common action, while meeting both European and African aspirations.
During the discussions Belgium notably defended the following priorities which it is delighted to find in the said conclusions:
- Promotion of effective multilateralism and a rule-based international order with strong international institutions;
- Democracy, good governance, the rule of law, human rights and gender equality. Belgium has paid particular attention to sexual and reproductive health and rights. In order to promote the development of inclusive and participatory societies, a special attention should be paid to the fight against all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia or intolerance.
- Other priorities include the promotion of peace, security and stability, through the prevention and resolution of conflicts, as well as through the implementation of integrated approaches (defense, diplomacy, development, humanitarian action). Belgium advocates in particular for a European strategy for the Great Lakes region, and for a more important role for the EU in the security sector reform, in cooperation with the United Nations and regional actors. Belgium will also remain involved in the Sahel, in particular through European missions. We are in favor of enhanced cooperation between the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union.
- Belgium supports sustainable growth and the creation of decent jobs, both through development cooperation and the private sector. Growth of intra-African trade and the effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ZLECAf) will both be essential for the commercial relationship between the two continents. Belgium also supports the European priorities of digital transformation, particularly “Digital for Development”, as well as a green transition and a transparent and responsible management of natural resources.
- The search for balanced answers to the complex and pressing questions of migration and mobility will inevitably be at the center of future discussions. The language of these conclusions offers an interesting starting point, from this perspective.
- Diasporas from Europe and Africa will undoubtedly have a key role to play in this partnership.
In the shorter term, Belgium looks forward to the communication of the priorities and expectations of the African side and looks forward to hosting the next EU-AU summit in Brussels. Belgium also calls for the rapid conclusion of a new ambitious partnership agreement between the EU and the ACP (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) countries. The EU must indeed effectively and coherently articulate its various existing and future tools (NDICI, European Peace Facility) if it wants to take a crucial step in its relationship with Africa