José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the EU – South Africa Summit
Kruger National Park, 15 September 2011
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be here in South Africa, one year after our successful third Summit in Brussels. I would like to thank President Zuma for hosting our annual Summit in such a beautiful setting in the Kruger National Park and not only hosting this meeting but also for the contribution he gave to the athmosphere and to the important results. The Kruger National Park is also an inspiring place in a moment where the world is faced with huge environmental challenges. It reminds you that to command nature you have to respect it first.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This Summit takes place at a crucial juncture and the world is facing very important challenges also from economic point of view. As you know South Africa is a key partner for the European Union. The establishment of a Strategic Partnership four years ago was a significant milestone in our relations. We want to further deepen our engagement. And when we say Strategic Partner it means that apart our bilateral relationship that has been deepening in many areas we try also to discuss and cooperate in matters of global importance.
And during this summit we have discussed matters like the G20, climate change, the rendez-vous we will have here in South Africa in Durban and other matters of greatest global relevance.
Regarding the G20 Summit in November in Cannes we wanted to recognise that the financial and economic crisis has really exposed our interdependence, global interdependence, it is now clear that when we have a major problem with one of the areas in the world we may all be affected. That is why the G20 – of which South Africa is a key member – remains an important instrument to achieve strong, balanced and sustainable growth. The EU is determined to do its part and stabilize the situation in the Euro Area. As the President of the European Council just said important steps were already taken and will lead to further integration based on solidarity and responsibility.
We also devoted a part of our time to the preparation of the Durban Climate Conference. The EU is committed to achieving a positive outcome for the world including naturally Europe and Africa. We emphasized the need to reach a balanced set of decisions to make operational the outcome of the Cancun conference but also to go beyond that and address those issues that are still unresolved. We need collective action by all major emitters reflecting the common responsibility we all have in the fight against climate change.
Regarding our bilateral relationship, we now cooperate on an impressive range of political matters, but also on issues that lie at the heart of economic recovery. We have long-term commitments, South Africa and the European Union, on areas as diverse as development aid, education and health, environment, innovation and scientific research, or energy. We spent substantive part of our meeting discussing in concrete terms what we can do for instance to foster cooperation in science and in research. The communiqué we just approved reflects the intensity and the wide scope of our joint commitment.
The European Union continues to be South Africa's most important trade and investment partner, accounting for around one third of all imports and exports. I am very pleased that there is a renewed momentum of engagement to conclude the economic partnership agreement between the European Union and SADC. The economic partnership agreement will help to clearly underpin and deepen our trade and economic ties to benefit citizens in all SADC countries as well as the European Union as a whole.
South Africa has a leading role in the region and I look forward to working together to bring this important discussion to a conclusion as a matter of priority.
As a development partner, the EU continues to support South Africa's national priorities, with contributions to development programmes expected to reach more than €260 million (2.6 billion rand) in 2011.
Just yesterday the Commissioner for Development of the European Union has launched a Primary Health Programme worth €126 million. Tomorrow I will visit a primary school in Soweto which is being financed under our Primary Education Support Programme amounting to €122 million. These are just two very concrete examples of our renewed commitment with South Africa.
Today's meeting is really a testimony of the excellent relations between the EU and South Africa. We have been able to tackle issues of common interest in a spirit of friendship and mutual understanding, while continuing to deepen and broaden as well our cooperation.
Thank you for your attention.