SA government’s appraisal of the EU-Africa summit

South African Perspective on the EU-African Union Summit

Source: South African Government

As you are aware the 2nd EU-Africa Summit was held in Lisbon, Portugal Saturday to Sunday, 8 to 9 December 2007. Both the Director-General and myself were part of the President's delegation and we have just returned. This was a very important summit and is reflected by the fact that almost all heads of state and government from Africa and Europe attended this Summit. There had been


This Summit, the second between Europe and Africa that has been delayed by almost seven years, was therefore very important because as you are aware, since the 2000 Cairo Summit it had not been possible to hold the second summit because of the participation on the African side by Zimbabwe. The very fact that this second summit took place and was attended by all countries including Zimbabwe, indicates the maturity of the relationship that is developing between Europe and Africa.

We have always argued that it was absolutely incorrect for our partners to insist on who should be part of the African delegation and that any matter should be placed on the agenda for discussion and therefore the summit was a gathering of political heads of state and government, not merely ministers and was therefore an excellent opportunity to discuss any matter without fear that this would lead to the breakdown of the Summit.

I am surprised at the general response from the experts in South Africa – I saw an article in the New York Times reflecting this – much of the media basically arguing that nothing new has emerged and that there was a major crisis in the economic discussions especially on the issue of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

Let me quickly say that the very fact that there were discussions on the EPAs at that level – these had previously been at the level of Ministers – this was the first time that heads of state and government were able to really tackle this matter at the political level.

The view of the vast majority of African participants was that we needed to revisit the partnership with a view to ensuring that maximum benefits would be derived from the EPA process and the way to ensure that the end product would be of mutual benefit to all and entailed a holistic approach to development on the continent and the joint strategy indicated that there was a need for the EPA process to be supportive of Africa’s regional and continental integration agenda on the basis of the Abuja Treaty.

The current reality is that the EPA negotiations as reflected at the moment would create serious problems for the integration process in Africa and therefore we argued strongly from the African side that we must look at these negotiations thus far because they did not support the principles and objectives as encapsulated in the joint strategy document. And it did not really take into account the varying levels of development amongst countries and there was a necessity to ensure that the co-operation with the EU through the EPAs did not undermine the overall regional integration efforts. And therefore Africa argued that it was important to align the EPAs and the WTO processes and that the focus should be on the development of the ACP regions.

Indeed, this is in line with our broad strategic approach with the EU: there must be a developmental approach to our new relationship and that we argued that the cut-off date that the Commissioners of the European Union were proposing – 31 December 2007 – was not realistic and that we should have more time to really continue the discussions to enable us to come to a consensus agreement on the way forward.

I will hasten to say that you are aware that the EPA agreements are a new element of the Cotonou Agreement that is coming to an end and there has been an argument by the EU that we need to synchronise with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which does not allow for this sort of arrangement.

We as Africa argued very strongly that this was not the case and if the correct arguments were put forward we could get an extension beyond the cut off date of the 31st December 2007. I want to believe that at the end of the process which would involve lots of discussions from the side of Africa and the European side as well as from the Commission, there was an agreement that the Commissioner Mr Barossa would now initiate a series of discussions with the five African economic regions in order to see whether we could get consensus on the EPAs.

So it is not a question of not finding each other, or a solution and that there was a breakdown – it is more important to see how Africa at a political level could collectively, despite the fact that some African countries have signed the interim agreement, could collectively put forward their view that we are not happy with the contents of, even the interim agreement, and that we should rather look at it in a way that would be in line with the strategic partnership and incorporate our vision of an EU-Africa relationship that would be of a different nature.

On the issue of Zimbabwe newspapers are either saying there was a massive attack against Zimbabwe while others are arguing that Zimbabwe was not discussed and therefore Summit failed.

Let me quite categorically state, the Zimbabwean situation was openly discussed. Four European countries raised the issue. From the African side, many of the African Heads of State raised the issue of Zimbabwe. In the end, what was significant, and President Mugabe in response to the four European countries made his own intervention to which EU Commission Solana responded on behalf of the EU, that all sides were able to put forward their positions – the European Union expressed their concerns about political and socio-economic developments and human rights in the country and the African countries strongly argued that we are dealing with this issue and President Mbeki, as the SADC appointed mediator, reported to the Summit about the progress being made in the Facilitation process and indeed, all of Europe was of the opinion that this is a matter that Africa is dealing with and that it should be dealt with by listening to what the Zimbabweans themselves want and what the African continent generally and Southern African Development Community (SADC) has initiated on this issue.

So, it was not a question of not discussing Zimbabwe or that the Zimbabwean issue was discussed in a way in which President Mugabe was castigated and there was no real dialogue on this matter.

I think it was the first time that, outside of very narrow frameworks, the two continents – Europe and Africa – were able to tackle the issue of Zimbabwe with each putting forward its perspective and indeed, let me say, even representatives from Europe who spoke on this issue supported the SADC initiative led by President Mbeki and all said that once the SADC processes succeed, Europe would be forthcoming with assistance to the recovery process.

So, on both of these controversial issues, I believe the discussions and the outcomes were misinterpreted in the media and by so-called experts.

It remains our view that the Lisbon Summit was a unique opportunity jointly – Africa and Europe – at the level of Heads of State and Government to address the major challenges the world faces today and this is very significant because it took place at a time when Europe is celebrating the 50th anniversary of European integration and Africa was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the beginning of independence. So it was a very significant moment for Europe which has historical, cultural and other links with Africa. It was a historic moment for us to sit together at the level of Heads of State and Government and map out the future relationship that would have to be different. We were cognisant of the fact that since the last Summit in Cairo much has changed.

In Africa we now have the African Union with its economic instrument NEPAD; in Europe, the European Union has grown in membership and scope deepening its processes of integration and acquiring new responsibilities in the world.

And there was a growing understanding between Europe and Africa that in this globalised world, where the benefits of globalisation are not equally distributed and all countries are not benefiting equally, and especially in Africa – in sub-Saharan Africa – where we are suffering the worst consequences of this globalisation, that we would have to understand that our inter-dependence meant that we would have to raise our levels of co-operation to new heights. And therefore, the major issues that we were discussing at both the Ministerial and Heads of State and Government levels, was can our relationship continue to based on the traditional relationship of donor-recipient. Can we continue to build a relationship that is genuine and mutually equal if we continue to have a situation where Europe only deals with Africa in terms of pity and humanitarian crisis?

Indeed, I think that through the programme of action and indeed through the Declaration, with a clear understanding that the greatest challenge that we in Africa face is poverty eradication and sustainable development, energy and climate change, and indeed from the European side also migration which has become quite a significant issue and terrorism and indeed the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
What is significant is that on all these issues everybody began to understand that you could not begin to tackle any of these issues unless you deal with it holistically and unless you have a relationship between Africa and Europe that is fundamentally different that that we had even during the first Summit. I believe this is recognition of the maturity and transformation in the Africa-Europe dialogue and opens up new paths of opportunities for collective action.

And indeed, it is precisely because of that that we could discuss many of the issues in a way that was not antagonistic – while we differed, we attempted to find common ground as I tried to show on Zimbabwe, the EPAs. And so we do, I believe, emerge from this Conference with tremendous opportunities which will now follow on the EU-Africa Strategy of 2005 – as you know there was an EU-Africa Strategy of 2005 – but this could not be given real content until the Heads of State and Government of the two regions met and gave it full support.

So, we believe that in the coming period Africa and Europe relations will now be based on a totally new paradigm. It will be based on an Africa-Europe consensus of values, common interest and common strategic objectives. And it will strive to bridge the developmental divide between Europe and Africa through the strengthening of economic co-operation and the promotion of sustainable development in both continents, clear understanding that the prosperity and security of Europe cannot be maintained even when one considers the issue of migration and terrorism, unless the economic challenges on the African continent are seriously considered.

It is our view that the Joint Strategy that has been adopted will provide an overarching, long-term framework for Africa-Europe relations and indeed, what is significant, despite what the media is saying, short term action plans have been developed in all the priority areas that have been identified and we believe this will result in concrete and measurable outcomes in all the areas of partnership that have been identified.

I believe that this is the first time Europe and Africa has decided on almost all issues – bilateral, indeed it will now be Europe and Africa through the European Union and the African Union – and we will even try to co-ordinate our activities in international fora – the UN, the Human Rights Council, and all other fora.

So, we emerged from this Summit fully endorsing the need for a stronger, new Africa – Europe political partnership which includes strengthening institutional ties and addressing common challenges in particular: peace and security, migration, development and climate change.

The Europeans, this time, as a collective at Heads of State level committed themselves to doing everything possible to ensure that Africa does meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. And indeed, for the first time, at this level, we jointly committed ourselves to promote and sustain a system of effective multilateralism with strong representatives in legitimate institutions and the reform of the UN system and other key institutions.

Now, as you know, for a long time, many of us in Africa and indeed in the South, have been arguing that the weakening of the multilateral system was becoming the greatest threat to international peace and security. This commitment by Europe and Africa to co-ordinate our efforts to strengthen the multilateral system, I believe it is the first time where two such powerful groupings within the UN can now co-operate to ensure that we do manage to get progress and strengthen a transformed UN including the Security Council and the Bretton Woods Institutions.

There are also, not only new commitments, but a commitment to address global challenges such as human rights including children’s rights and gender equality, most importantly the issue of fair trade which was constantly debated, the issue of migration, HIV and Aids, malaria, TB and other pandemics and as I said, climate change, increased co-operation on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, and knowledge based society issues such as the EU co-operating much more through expertise and financial resources in areas such as ICT, science, technology and innovation.

So it is our view that this is not business as usual because indeed a historic moment for us to move away from a traditional relationship between Africa and Europe which everybody accepts, and I think the fact that everybody accepts, the past relationship could not be sustained and that a real relationship was required characterised by equality and the pursuit of a common objective.

I think that is significant because what we in the South have been consistently saying is that if Europe, and indeed the developed world, does not give sufficient attention to the challenges of Africa its own prosperity and stability will be challenged and this is again what the traditional partners of Africa, at very high levels, can together proclaim that this is the direction in which we will be advancing. We also agreed that unfortunately in the developed countries, and in this case Europe, there is a lot of stereotyping of what goes on (they argue that there is stereotyping in Africa of developments in Europe) – we strongly argued there was negative stereotyping in Europe of Africa and there is ignorance of the overwhelming positive developments on both continents and indeed we agreed that the new approach should recognise and fully support Africa’s efforts and leadership to create conducive conditions for sustainable socio-economic developments and the effective implementation of partner supported developmental programmes.

If you begin to appreciate that in the Europe team there were very new members who had recently joined the Union and until now there had been suggestions that they were not too interested in the African agenda because they had their own priorities.

I think that after this meeting there is a common voice from Europe that Africa if a priority for Europe and that we will now do everything possible to take this relationship to a higher level.

And so, what were our priorities:

Our first priority was Peace and Security and in this context to promote a safer world.

Our second major priority was governance and human rights

The third major priority was trade and regional integration. I have already referred to the discussion on the EPAs and Africa’s demand that our relationship should be increasingly linking to building our economies, beneficiating our economies and indeed moving away from aid for just humanitarian purposes. And this is significant because I think Europe understands that the demand for African resources is now unprecedented and that Africa contains some of the world’s most valuable resources that Europe and other countries like China and India require. Therefore, our own relationship will have to take into consideration the increasingly relations Africa is building with China, India, with other countries of the South, initiatives such as IBSA and other initiatives that are being taken. And I think Europe is quite cognisant of this fact that Africa contains much that is required for their own national security and interest.

Indeed, our last priority was key development issues and this included the Millennium Development Goals and indeed the institutional architecture to implement what I am talking to.

So, it was not just talk for talks sake.

So let me just quickly give you a few examples of where this new partnership has to go. It has now been agreed that the informal, non structured relationship would now be more structured and the partnerships would work under the political guidance and responsibility of the Africa – EU Ministerial Troika and where necessary, Ministers in sector-specific areas would be called in to create specific troikas and there is also an agreement to take the initial steps in the period 2008 – 2010 to establish and implement an institutional framework and that joint monitoring of progress within the framework of the joint EU-African taskforce. All these structures have existed. They are now being institutionalised. And this means we will be dealing with Europe no longer as sub-regional groupings or individual countries, but as Europe and Africa represented by the European Union and the African Union.

And, I have seen suggestions that there has been no new money. It is not just about money. Indeed, Africa argued very strongly that we had not gone to this Conference nor would we go to future Conferences under the illusion that we are coming to beg for resources – we are coming to look at a new relationship that would ensure that even where there are pledges they are implemented but more significantly that the aid money would not be used to deal with humanitarian situations but will be used also in restructuring our economies to achieve our development agenda.

And, they have said that there are existing mechanisms in the European Union that will now be made available and more financial resources would come from institutions like the 10th European Development Fund and its facilities and trust funds, the relevant EU budgetary instruments – the EU Neighbourhood Policy Instrument, Development Co-operation Instrument, and the Geographical and Thematic programmes.

So what we have now is a commitment from the European Union to create conditions where we can access more resources for other existing financial institutions of the EU that goes beyond the specific Africa funds.
And I believe this is opening up the possibility, at last of ensuring that we can attract the necessary resources to achieve the objectives that have been agreed to.

So, we have agreed that the EU through this partnership will help us to operationalise the African peace and security infrastructure. In this context with expertise and with financial resources. And they will ensure, and as you know, we have always had problems when Africa has attempted to resolve its conflicts, we do not have the necessary resources the EU has now committed itself to ensuring that there will be predictable funding for African led peace support operations.

On democratic governance and human rights it was opportunity, I believe, for Africa to indicate that we do not need lectures on democracy and human rights. It was objective and subjective conditions that made it difficult but we have ourselves initiated the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and we are happy that Summit agreed to support the APRM and indeed, especially after we have been reviewed, make available some resources so we can implement what the review has asked us to implement.

They have also now committed themselves to not come in with new European-conceptualised human rights initiatives and charters but to support the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Human Rights and indeed we hope that we will take this further.

Let me then say, on the concrete plan of action: I think on peace and security which everybody accepts to be fundamental and Europe has already been a key partner with Africa in this regard we have now agreed that rather than being ad hoc, there will be systematic and regular dialogue on all issues related to peace and security at technical, senior officials and indeed at the political level.

It has also been agreed that there will be regular consultations between the AU Peace and Security Council and the EU Political and Security Committee. As you will recall, the EU Political and Security Committee is the main committee dealing with stability in Europe and indeed, internationally.

And indeed, it has now been agreed that there be formalised consultations for exchange and co-ordination at the highest political level and that obviously means at the level of Heads of State and Government and as I said, earlier on other levels of peace and security Europe has now agreed it will work very closely with Africa to co-ordinate efforts in the international fora on global issues of common concern and let me add this is not just to do with Africa but the Middle East, Iraq, the Iranian nuclear issue and indeed other issues that threatens peace and stability.

We will now set up consultations at Ambassadorial level in Addis Ababa, Brussels and New York. Discussions have been taking place informally and bilaterally but consultations will now take place at organised levels in Addis Ababa, Brussels and New York.

We have now agreed that we will improve the sharing of analysis and reports on crisis and conflict situations, including what I believe is what we have been arguing for is to look at the root causes that the necessary security arrangements will be put in place for the exchange of what they refer to as sensitive information.

So, for the first time Europe has agreed that it will share with us, I believe, their intelligence reports, and other sensitive information so that in the area of peace and security we can try to sing from the same songsheet.

And we will send joint assessment missions to conflict and post-conflict areas and we will initiate joint actions where appropriate.

So this is no longer business as usual. This relationship will now take on the dimensions of a structured one. The AU Peace Fund is going to be used more aggressively and as I said, they have now committed themselves to using other funds to ensure that we can effectively carry out this co-operation in peace and stability initiatives.

They have also agreed in terms of priority 2 to help us operationalise the African peace and security architecture so, in the area where we have had some difficulty to get off the ground, Europe’s expertise and funding will help us establish the continental early warning system and facilitate co-operation between the AU and corresponding structures within the EU.

So this is no longer an informal exchange of information both at sensitive and non-sensitive levels but the structures have been identified.

The EU will assist Africa in every way to fast track the operationalisation of the African Standby Force and they will support the regional brigades and increase their training and logistical support through the relevant EU and AU structures.

And now there has been an agreement that collectively, and not with individual countries, we will facilitate training courses, ensure an exchange of experts and information, joint seminars and initiatives at continental and sub-regional levels.

And indeed, I want to believe, we will organise as we have agreed more specific and regular co-ordination of meetings between Africa and the EU.

Again, the funding for this second priority has been identified and we will now try to ensure that this is no longer just a commitment but will be carried out.

The third priority area I mentioned – predictable funding for African led peace support operations, it has been agreed that we will establish a predictable and sustainable funding mechanism and we will work within the framework of Chapter VII of the UN Charter to provide sustainable, flexible and predictable financial support for peace keeping operations.

It is clear that through these processes that have gone a long way, the two continents highest political leaders have decided that on the peace and security these are the areas we are going to focus on and this is what we are going to concretely do.

On democratic governance and human rights, I am not sure why they were concerned that Africa is not capable of discussing this we were able to discuss this quite openly, raise issues of concern, our views on how we should strengthen democratic governance and human rights even in the developed countries and indeed, we came to a common understanding of various initiatives we need to undertake.

I cannot go into all of it but let me say, we will develop a platform for dialogue on all governance issues of mutual interest including political issues, human rights, children’s rights, gender equality, local governance and situations of fragility which refers to countries in difficulties as well as, indeed on South Africa’s insistence, the issue of the death penalty. We believe our constitution demands this and therefore it must be part of our discussions.

Our institutionalisation of discussions of all our senior officials dealing with human rights dialogue assisted and working with the Africa – EU civil society will now be enhanced.

We will then promote transparency in the management of natural resources and conduct a dialogue on relevant international initiatives such as the extractive industry.

So there are many areas, even on the good governance and human rights that we can discuss in a structured manner that does not appear to be confrontational and selective in identifying the areas of governance and human rights.

And again, let me repeat, that it is clear through our interactions in the last two years leading up to this Summit that Europe is clearly beginning to understand Africa’s commitment to good governance, human rights, fighting corruption, etc and are also beginning to understand there are two sides to the coin – if there is a susceptibility to corruption in African countries then what about the corruptive partners in the developed countries and therefore we will work together to deal with this issue and not see it from time to time in the UN Human Rights Council where selective issues are placed on the agenda and we seem to be at loggerheads.

And as I said, there is absolute commitment to support the APRM and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and this will be the framework within which we can increasingly, on an equal basis, discuss this contentious issue of human rights and governance.

As you know, the challenge of cultural goods – ie. goods taken from Africa during the slave trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism has been a contentious one and I believe that we have now reached an agreement where we can have an inventory in the area of cultural goods between Europe and Africa and we will exchange ideas on this matter as well as enhance our dialogue at UNESCO and indeed we will see how we can have Africa’s cultural goods returned to Africa. So that too is an important development and again different funding institutions have been identified within especially the EU for us to deal with this matter.

I have already dealt with the trade regional integration infrastructure so I will not go into this again but I think we have made tremendous progress in that area.

It does not mean that we totally agreed with the Commission on the ACP processes but it does mean that they are now aware that there is a collective African view on the EPAs and therefore they will have to be conscious of how we progress in the coming period to ensure the post-Cotonou agreements with the ACP countries are mutually beneficial.

I have already mentioned that we have now taken concrete action on the MDGs and how to deal with some of these key priorities. Again, identified actions and indeed the sources of the funding to achieve this.
And so, let me say that I believe this Summit, as I began by saying, was significant in that it took place.

There is a clear understanding that Climate Change is going to affect Africa most severely and unless there is an understanding that more needs to be done to assist Africa deal with this matter of climate change even Europe will not be spared the consequences. I am very happy that the Bali discussions, the World Conference on Climate Change seems to be progressing well and I hope that these discussions in Lisbon have enhanced our own positions in Bali so that we could argue more strongly on this issue.

Let me end by saying that migration, off course, is a major challenge and that I am not saying that this is the reason the Summit was so important for Europe. As I have tried to indicate, Europe has understood that its future is interlinked with that of Africa but even on the migration issue, a better understanding has been achieved by the leaders: you cannot deal with this issue but policing and the tragedy of so many Africans dieing while trying to get to Europe is a sad state of affairs that we cannot continue to sustain and therefore we need a better approach to dealing with the migration issue and there was a clear understanding of the brain drain which must be more beneficial to both sides and there is a clear understanding that Europe’s visa policies must be re-evaluated so that this imposition of restrictions on Africans merely because it is assumed we would all be seeking asylum is not the only way to go about it. But most importantly, a clear understanding that migration will not be stopped – legally or illegally (the main concern is the illegal migration because the legal migration concerns that of experts) unless you also put it into the basket of sustainable development issues and you also develop Africa in order to prevent Africans seeking a better life elsewhere.

It was significant that many African countries including South Africa could show from our experiences that it is an inevitable, logical conclusion that people who see better pastures will travel from great distances to get there. Many African countries were able to show that we are all recipients of migrants – legally and undocumented – and I hope we have emerged with a better understanding that the migration issue is also a challenge we in Africa are confronted with. We have a different approach on how we try to tackle this and you cannot deal with it merely on the basis of law and order. A holistic approach is needed.

So let me conclude by saying, there are many other areas and I hope you will study the documents. It was a historic meeting. It is not often that leaders from Europe at a level at which they were represented can meet leaders of Africa – not individually, but as a collective and hear the collective African voice on many issues. It was not as though we caucused on those issues – it was a genuine feeling of Africans speaking as sovereign African states but we identified the same challenges while seeking a transformed relationship with Europe which I believe is in our mutually beneficial interest. It is our considered view that we have made progress but in the end we have to continue to hold the partners to the agreements they have reached included the programmes of action, the institutional frameworks and indeed I believe we can together make a fundamental change to our challenges in Africa.

Thank you

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