Tag Archives: Utta Urpilainen

EU-Africa paramount partnership

“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” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell at the press conference on the Joint Communication towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa, taking place in Brussels on March 9.

“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.

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“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.

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“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, 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”.

Urpilainen committed to Africa

“…On our first trip outside Europe, President Von der Leyen and I went to hear Africa. We experienced a continent of youth, brimming with confidence, full of potential, attractive for the global players. We met a partner that deserves a more positive engagement from us.

“We have already paved the way for change with the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, supported by the External Investment Plan for sustainable investments, and have achieved – in such a short amount of time – tangible progress. Now, we can capitalise on those achievements and go further. It is time for a new chapter that brings a step change in our relationship. For that to happen, we need a new comprehensive strategy.

“A strategy that supports Africa’s political, economic, governance efforts, and its moves to bolster peace and resilience. A strategy with Africa that ensures partners’ ownership and commitment. A strategy that positions better the EU in the new global context, reflecting the aims of this geopolitical Commission and the ambitions of the European Green Deal.

“The Abidjan priorities we set back in 2017 remain valid today; our approach is not to change direction, but to step up a gear for better results.

“The strategy’s comprehensive character will be ensured by its inbuilt links with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate change, the EU Global Strategy, and the European Consensus on Development.

“We will continue to work on economic continental integration, human development, mobility and migration. Thematically, apart from addressing the climate and environmental challenges, we will focus on digitalisation and gender equality, which are major enablers for development. There could not be development without solid governance, respect of human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Therefore, we will pursue our efforts in these areas along with the fight for peace, security and against extremism. Finally yet importantly, we would like to work closer with our African partners on the multilateral rules-based system that is more and more being called into question.

“A key priority through my mandate, I will ensure that the implementation of this Strategy unleashes the power that youth represents. Young people must also own this Strategy.

“Work on the new ambitious framework is already ongoing, both at political and technical level. In the meantime, we continue listening and trying to ensure broad ownership of the Strategy both by yourselves and our Member States, as well as by our African Partners, and civil society, including young people.

“We will hold an EU-AU College-to-College meeting on the 27th of February in Ethiopia and a ministerial meeting in May. Both events will provide key opportunities for dialogue with our African partners.

“The proposal for the new strategy will be on our College agenda for adoption on early March that will mark the beginning of a more concrete work with our key stakeholders…” Strasbourg, 11 Feb 2020 – Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen