The fifth African Union – European Union summit took place on November 29-30, 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire to define future cooperation between the two continents
The fifth African Union – European Union summit took place on November 29-30, 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire to define future cooperation between the two continents.
EU and African leaders adopted a joint declaration on shared strategic priorities in four areas, namely youth economic opportunities, mobility and migration, peace and security and cooperation on governance.
Investment in youth has been noted as a key priority for the two continents, with 60% of Africa’s population under the age of 25.
A new EU external investment plan was presented that intends to create €44 billion in investments in Africa by 2020, creating new employment opportunities for young people across the continent.
Leaders also agreed to support the movement of academics, students and staff across Africa and enhance exchange programmes between Africa and Europe, such as ERASMUS+.
In preparation for the AU-EU summit, youth leaders gathered at the Africa-Europe youth summit on October 9-11, 2017 to agree on recommendations for supporting the development and employment of young people.
They formed the AU-EU youth plug-in initiative and youth agenda, which outlines proposals in six priority areas.
These are education and skills, peace and security, environment and climate change, culture, sports and arts, governance and political inclusion, and business, employment and entrepreneurship.
Furthermore, the EU-Africa Business Forum on November 27, 2017 worked to boost development investment in Africa, with particular focus on support for young and female entrepreneurs.
At the AU-EU summit, participants also discussed the issues of irregular migration and migrant smuggling, including how to tackle their root causes and consequences.
Libya was specifically discussed in relation to migration, with delegates adopting a statement of condemnation of the inhuman treatment of refugees and migrants by criminal groups.
They committed to ensuring international cooperation to tackle criminal perpetrators within and outside of Libya and put in place adequate measures for justice.
The EU agreed to form a joint migration task force in collaboration with the UN and African Union, which will focus on accelerating the resettlement of refugees in need of international protection and assist voluntary returns to countries of origin, as well as protecting the lives of migrants, with particular regard to the situation in Libya.
Delegates also reviewed progress following the Africa-EU civil society forum on July 11-13, 2017, which committed to promoting the importance of civil society participation in Africa-EU relations.
The EU is Africa’s primary contributor to promoting development, stability and peace in the continent.
It provided €21 billion in development aid in 2016 and EU companies invested €32 billion in 2015, accounting for around one third of Africa’s total foreign direct investment.
€1.4 billion will be committed to Africa’s educational programmes between 2014 and 2020, whilst €3.35 billion has been allocated to the European fund for sustainable development, which could trigger investments of up to €44 billion.
In addition, 7 civilian and military missions are deployed across Africa to assist with governance and peace and security procedures.
President of the European Council Donald Tusk said: “As you know, the European Union is Africa’s biggest partner and closest neighbour.
“Its biggest investor, its biggest trading partner, its biggest provider of development aid and humanitarian assistance as well as its biggest contributor in peace and security.
“And this summit demonstrated our determination to reinforce our partnership even more.”
In a statement on the AU-EU’s focus on migration, he said: “Migration has a significant impact on both of our continents, so we have a joint responsibility to acknowledge it as an important part of our relationship, which requires that we act together.
“This is especially true when it comes to the situation in Libya with the most cynical abuse of human beings.
“Let me repeat my call to impose UN sanctions on human smugglers and traffickers.
“And let me also say that we will not be effective, if we do not ensure that the people caught up in Libya and elsewhere can return safely to their homes.”
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