ADDIS ABABA (HAN) April 7. 2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News. Remarks by High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, Federica Mogherini, at the opening session of the African Union Commission and the European Commission College-to-College meeting, followed by Q/A at the Joint Press Conference.
Dear Chairperson of the African Union Commission, colleagues, friends,
It is, for all of us, really a pleasure to be here in Addis after your excellent visit to Brussels last year for the previous College-to-College (C2C) meeting. It is for me an honour to co-chair with you this 8th College-to-College meeting in the very same room where I was addressing, just last October, the African Union Member States fromthat podium a few months ago.
I believe that our C2C meetings, and this one in particular, symbolises perfectly well the cooperation, convergence and concord between these two sister organisations which have been driving and continue to drive regional integration in
both Europe and Africa. Today – I would like to start with this– is the International Day of Remembrance of the Genocide in Rwanda initiated by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2003. Let me start by saying that we can never forget the one million victims of this horrible genocide of 1994 and honour their memory and make sure that genocides like that will not happen again, anymore, in history.
Let us also together remember and honour today the victims of terrorism in the heart of Europe, as well as in many different parts of Africa. We are united in being the target. We are united in finding the ways to stop this threat for our people, in facing challenges of our difficult times, as well as working on opportunities for our people. We are together. Never as much as today…we are together.
We both need our partnership to be strong on many different issues. And that is why I am glad to be here today together with many of my colleagues, Commissioners and Vice-Presidents, to address and work jointly during the day on many of these issues. I would like to thank not only all our colleagues from both Commissions but also both of our teams who have prepared our working day of today with the professionalism and the dedication that is at the level of the political importance of our common work.
The C2C annual meeting is, besides our summits of Heads of State and Government, one of the most important – probably the most important – political meeting of the Africa-EU partnership. The C2C meetings are held annually since 2008 to build and consolidate our good relationship and to provide guidance for the way forward.
I would like to confirm my personal commitment and that of this European Commission College towards our partnership, towards what we do and we can do even more and better with Africa. This commitment is not only about words or good intentions; it is about acts and facts that we are building, on a daily basis, together on a political level and on a working level with very strong ties and working relations that I think are an added value for our people both in Africa and in Europe.
Africa and Europe are each other’s closest neighbour. Africa with 54 countries and the European Union with 28 Member States, have a shared history… In many ways a difficult and a heavy one, but most of all we have a common present and a shared future that we have the responsibility to build together. The European Union is and will remain Africa’s most important partner in many different sectors that are key for both of us. To name but a few: peace and security, development, trade, investment, people-to-people contacts, but many more others.
The European Union is the biggest donor to Africa and that is quite self-evident. It is less evident – and I think it is our interest to highlight this – that the European Union is the biggest trade partner for the African continent. 28% of Africa’s total trade (imports plus exports) takes place with the European Union and it has increased by 50% – 50 not 15%, 50! – in recent years.
I believe we are also key political partners for each other in our continents and on the global multilateral scene. Among the priorities of our partnership, peace and security occupies a particular place. Since 2003, the European Union through the Africa Peace Facility has committed more than €1.7 billion to support the African Union’s peace support operations and the African peace and security architecture, African Union’s mediation efforts and to make sure that the early response mechanism becomes operational. A lot of progress has been achieved in this last decade in terms of peace, security and democracy, but very important challenges remain, and threats, as you mentioned, are changing in nature. This is a situation that we see on a daily basis in many of our countries, both in Europe and in Africa, but namely in the Sahel region, in Somalia, in the Lake Chad Basin area.
The continuous string of terrorist attacks on African soil and in Europe requires us working more and better on this, which is on security, but it is also – as you rightly pointed out – also on preventing radicalisation and working on the economic and social development of so many areas of our continents.
We need to work together more to overcome difficult times. It is a critical moment and in this critical moment we see also some of the limits of our common work of the past. We see some of the limits of the African Peace Facility. We see the difficulties regarding the capacity to manage resources. We see the fact that the European Union resources remain the only predictable financing source to respond to increasing needs. This is why we believe that today we can work on how we can overcome these difficulties in a way that will be sustainable in the mid and long term and make our partnership effective and deliver.
Our partnership is based on common interests for instance on peace and security, but also on shared values and principles: democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law and sustainable development.
These are the very principles and values that are the core of both organisations. We are partners for democracy and rule of law. Since 2007, more than 40 EU election observation missions were deployed in Africa, often very closely coordinated with observers from the African Union and regional and economic communities. We work together to see how to ensure that the principles of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance are observed.
We are partners for Human Rights. Both the African Union and the European Union have designated this year – 2016 – as a Year of Human Rights. It is also a day of work but this year offers us a unique opportunity to not only make declarations and statements, but to work in practice, in concrete terms to make further progress in this area for both of us and to help address the many challenges we still face in this sector.
We are partners in multilateralism, on the global scene. We share the approach of multilateralism in all of the global arenas where we commonly work. This meeting, as you rightly pointed out, takes place after an important year, because in 2015 here in Addis, the conference on Financing for Development took place in July successfully. The UN adopted in September the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, then COP 21 agreed on a historic climate change agreement in December and the WTO Ministerial on the Doha Development Agenda took place in Nairobi again in December. These are all stories that tell us that when Africa and Europe express similar views and work together, their voice is stronger on the international scene and that it is when we are together that the entire world can benefit from our partnership.
We are partners in addressing migration in a fair and a comprehensive manner. I remember that, when I was here last October, this was the main issue of our discussion and I think that we shared the perspectives there. Migration flows and refugee flows are happening everywhere in the world, including inside the African continent. We know very well that we have a shared responsibility towards our people, including working on legal and mobility, including on working on preventing and tackling regular migration, especially in making sure that we protect people’s lives, dignity and rights, including fighting against trafficking of human beings and smuggling of migrants; including strengthening the links between migration and development and promoting a national partnership on the management of the migration phenomena is the one that could turn this phenomenon into an opportunity for all ,and it is a responsibility for saving human lives.
First of all, I believe we are partners for the creation of jobs, growth and investment. I finish with this because I know very well this is where the emphasis is and has to be. When you were in Brussels last year I remember very well this was the main element of our discussion: how we work together for diversification of economies, job creation, especially for the youth of Africa and for the women of Africa who are the backbone of this continent as they should be of our continent as well. And the need for industrialisation. We will start implementing partnership agreements on how we can attract and sustain more and more European investments in Africa. We will also discuss about this today in our day of work. Let me say that this is not a separate chapter of our agenda, because when we talk about economic investments, job creation, sustainable growth and industrialisation we also talk about the basic infrastructure needs on the continent. Because sometimes it is easier to get into Europe from Africa than to travel around Africa.
We will talk about the necessary security conditions for investors to come and stay. We will talk about good governance. So all the chapters of our agendas are interlinked and I believe they all push and move towards the economic opportunities for this continent which is also in the interest of the European Union and all the Europeans.
Our partnership is much more than an institutional, political or even economic relationship for our citizens. If you ask me: “what is the strength, what is the power of Africa?”, some might say the resources, some might say other things, I say the people. And this is also our human capital in Europe that it is our strength. This is our history and I believe this is also our future. Strengthening people-to-people contacts and human networks between our continents that will bring mutual benefits for both of us.
We need to engage more business communities, researchers, academics, journalists, artists, civil society organisations, youth, women… all different sectors of societies in our partnership. We can only benefit from an institutional point of view. The more the institutions open up, the better it is for the institutions themselves and for the societies themselves.
We have another important work ahead. Most African states are also members on the African, Caribeean Pacific group so we can start to engage in how we see our partnership and the regional organisations as we reflect on the future relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific states after the end of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020. This is an important work that we might start preparing already during our work today as we have a full agenda ahead of us. Not only will it be an intense day, but the work that we will start from tomorrow onwards as we look for the preparations of the next summit, next year, as your rightly pointed out, will be a very important moment. We can really upgrade the level of our partnership to an even stronger dimension.
Let me make, to finish, a proposal to work on restabilising our ministerial meetings – the EU-African Union Ministerial Meetings – because I believe that we deserve constant political exchanges as we have between Commissions also at the ministerial levels. I believe that the level and the importance of our partnership and the broad spectrum of the issues we have on the table in our daily work deserves this upgrade somehow to make our partnership even stronger. This is what our people both need.
Dear Excellency, my friend, let me thank you in the name of all my friends and President Juncker for the very warm welcome you and your colleagues have given us today and most of all for the excellent work that we have developed in this last year and that I am sure we have ahead of us today and in the next months. Thank you very much.
Q/A at the joint press conference by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, Federica Mogherini, and the Chairperson of the African Union Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
- On migration and on illicit flows.
I will leave the second question to my friend the Chairperson of the African Union Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and also because we did not discuss this during our College-to-College meeting. However, migration is one of the key elements of our partnership – not the only one, and not the most important one, I wanted to stress this very clearly – because, as we mentioned both of us in the introductions of today’s work, our fields of partnerships are many and all of them very important, starting from Economic Partnerships and job creation. The work on migration started to be at the core of our common partnership exactly one year ago, at the last College-to-College meeting in Brussels. We were, at that time, mourning more than 800 victims in the Mediterranean Sea at once, in only one terrific, terrible accident that happened at that time. I remember that our College-to-College meeting that time took place just after that tragedy. We committed then to work together towards a joint comprehensive approach to tackle this issue, that – I would like to stress – is not a European problem, it is a global problem. It is very much an African problem; because it is Africans dying in the desert and in the Mediterranean, it is African families that are putting all their money into the attempts to do these travels of desperation. And it is African countries that are seeing the brain drain that is provoking loss to the countries. So, we need a real partnership because it is a problem that does not have one side that is losing and one side that is winning – but we have the two of us a major problem to face. But we also have to take the opportunities of this. We also discussed today the need to work on legal channels, human mobility as an opportunity for our youth, both ways. And there is commitment in this respect. You asked what we did over the last months. After the last College-to-College [meeting] in Brussels last year, we had the Valletta Summit where we jointly committed – 35 African countries, the 28 EU Member States, the European Union institutions, and the African Union institutions – on a joint Action Plan of which we have started to see the implementation. On our side we have already started to engage bilaterally with 13 of the 35 African countries, developing together – in partnership, bilaterally – specific packages of measures ranging from support to local development and access to, for instance, clean water for communities, to border management or security sector support, to see case-by-case, country by country, what is needed in that specific circumstances – where and how – and to shape this support in a targeted way. There is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach, but a targeted one in a dialogue. On top of that we have started on the European Union side to approve and to finance projects with the EU Trust Fund for Africa. In the last months we have started to approve the first group of projects, in particular for the regions of the Horn of Africa and for the Sahel and Lake Chad region. We have already financed projects in these first months for a total of EUR 750 million so far, and the rest of the funding will be allocated in the coming months through the selection of projects – as I said, on a targeted basis. So, I have to say that I believe that our partnership has started to deliver on the financing of the projects and on the identification of the strategic sectors where we need targeted cooperation in different areas. I believe that this is the real way to do it – in partnership, with instruments, with good faith, and with this approach of managing a phenomenon and not of blaming each other or imagining that, through walls, one can stop a flow that is only natural to be there. But we need first of all to protect people’s lives and the development of the continent.
- on peace and security challenges in Africa
The question is short, but the answer might not be. Just listing the number of challenges on peace and security on the continent would probably take half of our afternoon. Actually we are having a specific cluster meeting this afternoon dedicated exactly to this. Just for me to say in short that I personally value very much the work that we are doing together, the European Union and the African Union, on the many different crises we have in the continent. I believe the African Union knows very well that it has in the European Union not only the strongest, the most dedicated, but also the most reliable partner in supporting the African Union[‘s] work on peace and security; simply because we know very well that investing in Africa’s security is also investing in the European security. And that it is only together that we can face this. It is indeed true that next to the traditional challenges to peace and security, namely the conflicts and the crises, we are seeing more and more in the last months and years the phenomenon of terrorism and radicalisation which is posing different kind of threats, different kind of challenges to the peace and security of our citizens and our societies, both in Africa and in Europe. We have started to work very much together on how we can develop instruments to jointly face this challenge that knows no borders, but knows how to spread in our societies, and that needs to be tackled not only from the security angle, but also from the educational one, the social one and the creation of the employments and jobs also.
[after intervention by Chairperson of the African Union Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma]
I forgot to mention one important thing, that indeed we do have, all of us together, the challenge in the sustainability of the financing of our instruments, but this is something we discussed; and we have a common interest to work together to make it sustainable in the mid- and long-term, also looking for other contributors that can make our financial support sustainable in the future.