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European Commission - Press release

The European Commission promotes democracy and growth with its African Union partners

Brussels, 30 May 2011 - The African Union (AU) Commission and the European Commission are meeting in Brussels for their 5th annual College-to-College session. They will move forward on a joint agenda of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership and focus their discussion on two pressing issues of present concern: democracy and growth.

The profound democratic transformations that are currently taking place in Northern Africa deserve the whole-hearted support of all international actors, with an aim of strengthening political and economic governance across the African continent. At the same time, as the world is emerging from the economic crisis, a crucial common challenge for both Africa and Europe is to kick-start growth and focus on inclusive and sustainable development for Africa, eyes firmly on achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said prior to the meeting: "The encouraging historical changes on the African continent present tremendous opportunities to enhance the relations between our continents. Our two Commissions will continue to serve as the engines of the ambitious Joint EU-Africa Partnership. Together we can achieve real progress for the people of Europe and Africa, by tackling global issues, by creating more opportunities for trade, investment and inclusive development, and by addressing the people's aspirations for democratic reforms and social justice."

The Strategic Partnership between Africa and the EU pursues common objectives beyond the traditional donor-recipient focus, in a dialogue of equal counterparts. The EU is the biggest trading partner for the African continent. In 2009, 36% of total imports to Africa originated in Europe. The European institutions are also the second biggest donor worldwide for Africa. The European Commission has committed €24.4 billion through its various financial instruments for the period 2007-2013 in support of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and its thematic partnerships.

Discussions aim at strengthening the political and technical cooperation between the two institutions, provide fresh impetus to the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and elements for the future political agenda.

More follows

Agenda of the College-to-College meeting

The programme of the meeting between the two Commissions is divided between thematic cluster meetings of Commissioners, bilateral meetings and a plenary session, which takes place in the morning of 1 June.

On 31 May, cluster meetings will cover: Political Affairs; Regional Integration, trade and infrastructure; Social Affairs; Climate Change and Environment; Economic governance and raw material. President Jose Manuel Barroso and AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping will meet bilaterally.

On 1 June, cluster meetings will cover: Administrative cooperation; Agriculture, food security and safety; Science, ICT, Space. The topic of the joint plenary session of the two Colleges is "Consolidating Growth and Democracy".

At 12h40 on 1 June (tbc), President Jose Manuel Barroso and AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping will hold a joint press conference

The Joint Africa-EU Strategic Partnership

80 Heads of State and Government from Africa and Europe adopted the Africa-EU Joint Strategy in Lisbon in December 2007. Both sides agreed to pursue common interests and strategic objectives together, beyond traditional development issues, beyond the exclusive geographic scope of Africa and beyond institutions with the participation of non-state actors. The Joint Strategy outlines a long-term shared vision of the future of Africa-EU relations in a globalized world. Based on this vision and on common principles, the Africa-EU Joint Strategy defines eight specific partnerships : Peace and security; Democratic governance and human rights; Trade, regional integration and infrastructure; Millennium development goals (MDGs); Energy; Climate change; Migration, mobility and employment; Science, information society and space.

In November 2010, African and EU leaders met again under the overarching topic “Investment, Economic Growth and Job Creation” to take cooperation between the two continents to a new, more ambitious level. They confirmed the Joint Africa Strategy as the central political framework for their relations. To implement this Strategy, a joint Action Plan 2011-2013 was adopted, including concrete actions to be pursued or launched on the strategic areas and building on accomplishments since 2007.

Background information on the Partnership and its eight thematic areas can be found at: http://www.africa-eu-partnership.org/

The African Union and the African Union Commission

The AU was created in 2002 and currently has 53 Member States. It is Africa's premier institution and principal organisation. Its main objectives are to achieve unity and solidarity on the continent, achieve political and economic integration, promote peace and security, democratic principles and institutions as well as sustainable development.

The AU Commission is the key institution in the day-to-day management of the African Union and main interlocutor for the European Commission in the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership. The Commission is composed of the Chairperson, a Deputy Chairperson and eight Commissioners. It has its headquarters in Addis Ababa and currently has1500 staff members.

For more information:

MEMO/11/351

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/piebalgs/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)


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