A new Africa-Europe Alliance

As part of President Juncker’s State of the Union proposals earlier this week the European Commission announced a new ‘Africa – Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs’. The package builds on the commitments taken during the African Union – European Union Summit of last year in Abidjan where the two continents agreed to strengthen their partnership. The Alliance will lead to the creation of up to 10 million jobs in Africa in the next 5 years alone.

In her opening remarks at today’s press conference High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini stressed: “You might remember that when we started our mandate four years ago, we said that it was not enough, it was not good anymore, to work just for Africa but that we wanted to shift the paradigm and start working with Africa. In these last four years we have been building step by step a different kind of partnership with Africa – a partnership of equals – with the continent that is the closest one to Europe, only 14 kilometres away from our coasts”.

What happens in Africa matters in Europe and vice versa.

The European Union is Africa’s closest neighbour and biggest investor. The EU’s Member States held an investment stock of €291 billion in 2016. And the External Investment Plan mobilises significant investment, underway to leverage up to €44 billion of investment by 2020.

The EU is also Africa’s main trading partner, accounting for 36% of Africa’s trade in goods, worth €243.5 billion and the EU remains the world’s most open market to African exports.

The Alliance will be a major priority in the upcoming year and is focussed on Africa’s and Europe’s economic potential and the mobilisation of the private sector. It further pursues the goal to unlock private investment and exploring the huge opportunities that can yield benefits for African and European economies, concentrating on jobs for youth.

The investment in the younger generation in Africa is of utmost importance to the High Representative / Vice-President. She underlined that “they often lack education and training, and they often lack access to financial opportunities”. The proposal will make a difference in that regard by increasing for example the support for scholarships and exchange programmes with the goal of over 100,000 students benefitting from Erasmus+ in the next ten years. And 750,000 people will receive vocational training for skills development by 2020.

Next to boosting strategic investment and strengthening the role of the private sector, investing in people by investing in education and skills, the Commission’s proposal further include key actions such as tapping the full potential of economic integration and trade. In short, it is an economic strategy that puts the strengths of Europe and Africa to work.

The European Peace Facility worth €10.5 billion, which was proposed by High Representative Federica Mogherini, will further enhance work with Africa in ensuring peace, security and stability across the continent.

High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini will be travelling to Africa again next month. And “there will be also opportunities for me personally and for others from us to discuss these ideas and these proposals at the next [UN] General Assembly in New York in ten days from now”, Mogherini said.

Henry Borzi

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