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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Dr Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission
20 February 2013
Good afternoon Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to welcome Dr Dlamini-Zuma to Brussels.
This has been our first meeting after Dr Dlamini-Zuma took office as African Union Commission Chairperson. I have seized the occasion to personally congratulate Dr Dlamini-Zuma on her appointment and to wish her every success in this very important new capacity.
As President of the European Commission, the strengthening of the relations between the European Union and Africa is one of my top political priorities.
I believe in the potential of EU-Africa relations. Our continents are united by strong bonds of friendship. We have experience in the past, not always the best experience, but, more importantly, we have a very important future to build together.
And the African Union is of course a key partner and is also the most important interlocutor in our relationship to Africa. I am glad that its weight and impact are growing over the years. I consider the African Union and the European Union natural partners.
I welcome Dr Dlamini-Zuma's determination to broaden the scope of the activities of the African Union Commission to tackle issues such as education, health, agriculture, trade, science and technology, youth and women empowerment - these are areas were the European Union and the African Union already share a vision and undertake joint work.
I see much value in deepening our cooperation to address development and security challenges. We have discussed some of these issues during our very open constructive meeting. The current situation in Mali is an example of how the international community, and in particular Europe and Africa, can work together to face today’s challenges and threats.
In the international stage, we should also deepen our cooperation on common priorities, namely securing a global agreement on climate change and pushing to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Europe remains committed to the economic and social development of African countries. Our European Development Fund for the next financial period will remain considerable: around 27 billion euros. An increase compared with the current period. And I am also hopeful that the Commission proposal to create a pan-African programme, which will support continental integration, will also be part of the final deal.
We have discussed this in very concrete terms with Dr Zuma: the need to have a continental approach, at the European and African level, the need to push for integration. Because in the world of the 21st century we are sure that we can better protect our interests and values if we act together.
But while keeping our commitment to development and to the target of 0.7 GNI to Official Development Assistance, we should also look beyond and promote growth through more trade and investment. Africa is experiencing growth rates bigger than any other region in the world. The potential for economic cooperation is immense with a continent of 1 billion people full of dynamism, a continent that will grow in population in impressive terms in the near future. So I believe there are many complementarities that can make this a win-win partnership, both for Africans and for Europeans.
Africa and the European Union must build on a shared vision for their future relations. We need to be open to new ideas and adapt to the current challenges both continents are facing.
Thus the importance of our next Africa-EU Summit, to take place in Brussels 2014. And I'm sure that Dr Dlamini-Zuma will contribute to develop this strategic vision. I'm also ready on the European side to give this contribution.
In April I will travel together with the College of Commissioners to Addis Ababa to meet the African Union College and to launch the preparations for next year’s Summit.
Dr Dlamini-Zuma, let me thank you once again for our very constructive meeting! I thank you that you could come here to Brussels and we could have this contact. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I am encouraged by our common determination to keep our two organisations as the drivers and the motors of what I think are very promising prospects for Africa-European Union relations.