2007 is remembered as the year the Lisbon Summit took Africa-EU relations up to a new strategic level. Leaving behind old stereotypes, breaking up with the donor-recipient relationship of the past, Europe and Africa moved forward defining the terms of a modern partnership of solidarity and equality. 2010 should be remembered as the year Africa and Europe were able to pool efforts and achieve their ambitious Lisbon commitments.
2010 is the defining moment for both Africa and Europe to measure the achievement of the eight thematic partnerships agreed in Lisbon. We have a collective obligation towards the people of our continents to bring concrete results.
In the last two years the European Commission has adopted a 1 billion euros Food Facility, a 500 million euros Vulnerability FLEX mechanism to mitigate the effects of the economic crisis a 200 million Euros, under the EDF, to help developing countries cope with higher food prices; and committed 150 million euros of fast start financing, up to 2012, as part of the overall European pledge of 7.2 billion euros, to tackle the effects of Climate Change.
In support of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and its eight thematic partnerships, the European Commission alone has committed 24.4 billion euros through its various financial instruments for the period 2007-2013 (16 billion euros of which related to European Development Fund, including regional and national envelopes).
Our Member States (EU15) have provided a total amount of 19 billion euros in Official Development Assistance flows to Africa in 2008. The EUís internal growth strategy - the Europe 2020 Strategy takes into account the need to invest further in our relations with strategic partners, as Africa.
Africa has been through major transformations in the last years, and partly due to the impressive work the African Union has been undertaking. In areas such as peace and security, the African Union has taken a courageous stance against unconstitutional changes of governments (in Mauritania, Guinea, Niger and Madagascar) and assumed a crucial role in African peacekeeping, particularly in Somalia and Sudan.
The European Commission has been a strong advocate of the principle of a better representation of the African continent in international fora: the G20/G8, the United Nations and other International Financial Institutions (World Bank, IMF).I see a special role for African institutions (the African Union in particular) and for African representatives in international fora.
In our bilateral relation, the political and institutional ties between our sister institutions have grown stronger in the past few years. Under the 10th EDF, we have a 55 million euro programme in support to building the capacity of the African Union and its organs.
A strong alliance between the two Commissions has been and will continue to be crucial to drive the continent-to-continent Partnership forward.
I suggest that we work with the following guidance in mind: Develop further our political and technical cooperation and explore the synergies between the EUís Europe 2020 and the African Unionís Strategic Plan for 2009-2012; Concentrate on results in each of the eight thematic partnerships in the remaining months of the First Action Plan (2008-2010) and Provide guidance to the EU-Africa Summit preparation and identify what should be its main deliverables.
The European Commission is in the early stages of submitting proposals (Communication this autumn) for the future of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership. I expect that today's discussions can provide useful inputs and can stimulate our future work.
Three years after Lisbon, and despite the central role that our two organizations play it is clear that just by ourselves will not be able to deliver on the ambitious Lisbon commitments. Other actors need to do their part. We need the political ownership of our Member States, parliaments, civil society, and the regional economic communities.
By Josť Manuel Barroso,
President of the European Commission.
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