The European Union and Africa have an important and unique partnership, which is at a crossroads. The EU remains the main partner of Africa, but it is no longer the only one. So does Africa still need Europe? We continue to believe the deep, comprehensive and holistic relationship is a vital long-term foundation for political dialogue and progress in both continents.
Investing in young people. The demographic boom in Africa will be an opportunity for the continent rather than a challenge, if we support investment in education. The challenges of the future will only be met if we equip the next generations with the necessary tools, on which an “EU-Africa Erasmus program” can be of great impact, encouraging exchanges between European and African young students, researchers, teachers and entrepreneurs.
Sustainable investments. The S&D Group strongly supports the EU External Investment Plan for Africa (and European neighbourhood) with the aim of improving economic and social development and achieving the SDGs on the African continent. But rather than underpin multinationals which are already champions of tax evasion, or the ones which prey on mineral and natural resources, the EIP must provide support to SMEs, microfinance and job creation programs, especially for young people and women.
Coherent Partnerships for development to address the root causes of irregular migration. Irregular migration is a global phenomenon requiring a coordinated international response and the EU must take a human-rights-based lead in shaping it. We support a strong partnership between Europe and Africa and the efforts in the United Nations to tackle the root causes of migration in terms of improving the economic and social situation, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and providing education and employment opportunities in countries of transit and origin. We remain strongly committed to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, also by improving development cooperation, conflict resolution, and stimulate inclusive and sustainable economic growth to ensure that people have a real chance of a better life in their homeland. But we also need to ensure we implement Policy Coherence for Development across our agricultural, trade and investment policies, from the Common Agricultural Policy to binding due diligence requirements for EU companies. The security-development nexus remains important for addressing conflict, but poverty-alleviation must remain the primary goal of development assistance. We will never accept aid conditionality linked to migration policy.
Strengthen democracy and human rights. Human rights remain central to our partnership with Africa. We urge the EEAS and Commission to use all available tools to maintain serious human rights dialogues. We will seek innovative mechanisms to give support and visibility to those risking their lives in Africa for the defence of human rights, democracy, social justice, equality and non-discrimination. We reiterate our belief that independent NGOs, media and cultural space are a pre-requisite of a functioning democracy and rule of law.
Gender equality. Without the emancipation of women there is no viability for sustainable development, nor full democracy, nor good governance. Gender equality must be mainstreamed in all EU policies, initiatives and investments towards Africa.
“Does Africa need Europe?” is one of the priorities part of the “Building the Progressive Future Together” statement, that will be debated during our event in Brussels on October 18-19. We’re counting on your input, so each of you can play a part in shaping our common future. It’s easy – just sign in, click on the link and add your thoughts. We will select the best comment for each workshop and fly the person who sent it to Brussels, as our Together Ambassador, to debate live with our MEPs, European Commissioners, academics and intellectuals. Deadline: October 9.