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The EU and Africa want to consolidate their strategic partnership

José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Opening speech by President Barroso at the Africa-EU Summit: "The EU and Africa: consolidating our strategic partnership"
Opening Session, Africa-EU Summit
Tripoli, 29th November 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We can build on the Joint Africa-EU Strategy as a political framework that allows us to project our common values, and jointly pursue our common interests in a changing world.

Africa is on the move for peace and prosperity. For sure, many serious problems persist – poverty, human rights, conflicts - but you are addressing them and we are your partners in this effort.

In the past twenty years, the number of armed conflicts has decreased by over a third. With the consolidation of the African Peace and Security Architecture, the African Union and African regional communities are now better equipped to bring peace and stability to the continent. I would like to commend the work of the African Union and of its Commission.

Also, Africa's economic growth has been impressive: per capita GDP increased annually by 6% between 2006 and 2008. And Foreign Direct Investment inflows to Africa have been rising strongly since 2002.

The overarching priority for the EU, as set out in our Europe 2020 reform strategy, is growth. This strategy specifically refers to Europe's relations with Africa, and to how we can translate our political objectives into concrete action over the next decade.

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals and effectively reducing poverty continues to be our end goal, and I firmly believe that these are still attainable by 2015. The European Union remains deeply committed to this objective, and just recently in New York I had the opportunity to announce, on behalf of the European Union, an MDGs initiative of €1 billion to help those countries most in need.

However, at the same time we have to take our political and policy dialogue beyond the traditional development focus. No developing country ever became a developed country through aid alone.

We have come to Tripoli to identify sustainable solutions to today's challenges. These solutions will bring our peoples, our businesses, our cultures and our youth closer together.

We have come to Tripoli with the fascinating long-term perspective of a Euro-African economic area in mind – an area which will provide opportunities for 2.5billion citizens by 2050.

The economic and financial crisis is not over yet. But as we work to emerge from it, new avenues for Africa and Europe to restore and accelerate growth are opened.

Allow me to highlight two examples, energy and climate and trade.

The first relates to our cooperation in the areas of energy and climate change.

Africa accounts for just 5.6% of the world’s energy consumption and 3% of the CO2 emissions. However it is the continent which suffers the most from the effects of climate change and where energy poverty is highest.

Nevertheless Africa has enormous potential to spark a "renewable energy revolution" and lift almost 600 million Africans out of energy poverty.

The EU is already closely cooperating with Africa in renewable energy technology, including transfer and training through its Energy Facility which is currently implementing 62 projects in 34 African states worth €400 million, with a contribution from the Commission of €180 million.

Jointly, we can promote sound conditions for investment and growth, foster regional and continental energy interconnections, boost energy trade and improve energy security.

That is the goal of the new Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme launched in Vienna this September, which will be supported by fast-start climate financing in its start-up phase.

There are opportunities to establish partnerships in the private sector to explore new avenues for cleaner energy supply, accessing technologies like hydropower or transitional fuels like gas but also geothermal, wind and solar power.

My second example is trade and regional integration. Both are powerful catalysts for peace, stability, growth, jobs and prosperity.

Regional integration is an essential vehicle for economic growth and this is as true in Europe as it is in Africa.

Currently only a tenth of Africa’s trade is within Africa itself. The European Commission is committed to assisting African economies to remove bottlenecks which hamper integration and trade, like country and regional infrastructure, interconnectivity, services and regulatory aspects.

Regional Economic Communities are true engines of this process, and we follow with great interest the current efforts for streamlining and harmonizing their agendas, as in the Tripartite Initiative in Eastern and Southern Africa.

We also hope to conclude the Doha Development Agenda. The economic gains that Africa stands to reap from the DDA are huge. An ambitious trade result, with a supportive domestic policy environment, is estimated to offer gains of approximately 5% of income in developing countries, which would lift some 300 million people out of poverty by 2015. This is much more than all development aid combined can ever achieve.

That is why we are also engaging in Economic Partnership Agreements with five regions in Sub-Saharan Africa. We see them as a way to support socio-economic development, regional integration and the integration of Africa in the global economy.

However, market access alone is not enough; supply-side constraints need to be addressed in order to enable African countries to take advantage of trade opportunities, in particular addressing the lack of infrastructure, and we are giving this a higher priority in our relations with Africa.

Aid for Trade is key in this respect, and the European Union is the biggest provider of Aid For Trade in the world, delivering more than €10 billion in 2008.

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