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Statement by President Barroso following the EU-South Africa Summit in Pretoria

European Commission - SPEECH/13/649   18/07/2013

Other available languages: none

European Commission

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following the EU-South Africa Summit in Pretoria

Press conference/Pretoria

18 July 2013

President Zuma,

President van Rompuy,

Ministers,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here and let me start by thanking very sincerely President Zuma for the hospitality that, Mr. President, you have shown us.

And indeed we are extremely grateful to the fact that you have organised this Summit with the European Union precisely on Nelson Mandela's day. We see this as a gesture of friendship to the European Union. It is a privilege for us to be here today with you, sharing this moment. Madiba is much loved by the South African people as well as by the whole world. Through his words, deeds, through his vision and courage he rises above life and death and wins a place in the gallery of the great personalities of mankind. More than ever our thoughts are with him, his family and with all South Africans.

Each long walk starts with a small step. Nelson Mandela gave that first step in South Africa's long road to freedom and democracy. But this was walk has been continued by the entire nation and now South Africa is reunited under one flag. It is "a rainbow nation in peace with itself and with the rest of the world".

Next year South Africa will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its democracy and the best way of honouring Nelson Mandela's causes is to continue spreading and consolidating his legacy of peace, democracy, of tolerance and social justice.

And that's exactly what brought us here today: to engage each other frankly and under the same principles and values; principles of democracy, rule of law, inclusive development, peaceful resolution of conflicts and also support to the multilateral system.

The European Union and South Africa are natural partners in many ways and our strategic partnership has reached now a mature stage. We share a wide range of interests and we are ready to go a qualitative step further in our bilateral cooperation.

Today we discussed the need to stimulate growth and employment. This is one of the top priorities of our partnership and a great challenge that we share.

In Europe we can be more positive than one year ago on the economic recovery now underway. However we still have to do more to address the scourge of youth unemployment. South Africa is also working to promote growth and jobs, to diversify its economy and to ensure that its development is inclusive and leaves no one behind. We can both benefit from working more together to face these challenges. I would even say that Europe is South Africa's natural partner to do it.

First of all because the European Union is South Africa's main trading partner with 25% of the trade share. The European Union is also its first foreign investor with three quarters of the overall FDI stock. At least 2000 European Union companies invested over 60 bn rand in South Africa creating over 350 000 direct jobs. The President Zuma just gave some impressive figures in his presentation, I will not repeat. So there is indeed a very strong relation between Europe and South Africa.

I believe trade is a powerful engine to boost our economies and expanding foreign trade and investment, avoiding protectionism and creating a good business climate is vital for more jobs and prosperity.

In this respect the Southern African Development Community – Economic Partnership Agreement (SADC-EPA) that we hope to conclude soon, represents in our view an additional asset for our relation and for our shared goal of increasing prosperity to our people.

Secondly the EU is South Africa's largest development partner with 70% of all cooperation funds received by the country. And this is certainly important, as President Zuma just outlined.

South Africa is now an emerging economy with a different type of needs so we must adapt our cooperation accordingly. But certainly we want to keep development cooperation with South Africa. This is why I have proposed to focus our future cooperation on: job creation, education, skills and innovation, and capacity-development.

In today's Summit joint communiqué we find how vast, how wide is the field of our cooperation. So I will not go into detail. But let me just highlight one important point: we are also expanding our cooperation into new areas. Today we discussed energy as source of growth and we have agreed that the European Union will support rural electrification in South Africa as part of the EU programme Sustainable Energy for All. I am also delighted that we had the opportunity to sign the South Africa-EURATOM agreement. It will definitely provide impetus for stronger dialogue and cooperation on nuclear safety issues.

Our Strategic partnership with South Africa is also an integral part of our special relationship with the African continent. We very much admire the leadership role that South Africa is having on African issues, and we believe it is important to also have this pan-African perspective. Recently I had the pleasure to meet President Zuma in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the African Union, and indeed we also discussed extensively many important issues for the African continent. This vision of Europe and Africa working together is exactly what is inspiring us in the preparation of the 4th EU-Africa Summit we will host in Brussels next April.

President Zuma,

South Africa has achieved a lot in these almost 20 years of democracy and we have achieved a lot together in our bilateral relations throughout this period.

However as Nelson Mandela wrote in his memoirs "I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb (…) But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended".

Nelson Mandela's walk will continue in the steps of every South African. And we are proud to continue walking that walk alongside with you. Alongside with you, President Zuma, and alongside with all South Africans.

Thank you for your attention.


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