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European Commission


Brussels, 25 May 2013

Joint Statement by President Barroso and Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs on 50th anniversary of the African Union

50 years ago on this day, representatives from 32 African countries came together in Addis Ababa to form the Organisation of the African Unity. Their aim was to promote unity and solidarity among African States and to accelerate the process of integration in the continent to enable it to play its rightful role in global affairs. Half a century later, the Organisation of the African Unity has become the African Union (AU) and has no less than 54 members.

Today we would like to congratulate the African Union on its 50th anniversary. Over the last five decades a lot has been achieved and the AU has played a central role in African regional integration; ensuring peace and security, democratic governance and human rights and economic development.

The EU also started with the philosophy that regional integration and a common market would lead to peace, stability and prosperity. Although we are in different stages and face challenges of a very different nature, we can say that we have both come a long way in achieving this goal.

Africa and Europe will remain each other's closest neighbour. The African Union's and the European Union's member states have a shared neighbourhood, history and future - two continents, one vision! Cooperation, based upon a strong political relationship and close collaboration in many areas, will help us to achieve closer economic ties, inclusive and sustainable development to live peacefully and securely side by side.

The EU is the main trading partner for Africa, accounting for one third of Africa's total trade. We also remain Africa’s most important donor. African countries received more than €24 billion of Official Development Aid (ODA) from the EU via the European Development Fund and the EU budget over the period 2007–2012. The European Commission has provided close to €1 billion support to the African Union over the past 10 years. From 2005 to 2010 European Union member states were responsible for 43.7% of foreign direct investment in Africa.

These are impressive figures, as are the results that have been achieved. For example, the African Peace Facility has become over the years the key instrument for implementing the Africa-EU Partnership on Peace and Security. Substantial and predictable funding of more than €1.1 billion has been channelled through this instrument. These funds have supported African-led Peace Support Operations such as in Somalia, Mali or the Central African Republic, contributed to capacity development and political dialogue on peace and security.

We are proud of what has been achieved together so far. Today, as we celebrate 50 years of partnership, we are convinced that we can do even more in the future – this is a win-win relationship for both continents - enabling us to help each other on our challenges, and share the benefits of our successes.

For more information:

Website of the 50th Anniversary of the Organization of African Unity (OAU):

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