The next generation of Africa EU relations
As Africa and Europe seek to re-set their partnership in the face of an unprecedented health and economic crisis, Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, met with young people, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to discuss EU-Africa cooperation (European Commission, 30 June). The debate, hosted by the think tank Friends of Europe, is the first of a series of youth- and citizen-led virtual discussions on the vision and priorities of both Africa and Europe in line with the core themes of the EU’s Joint Communication “Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa”.
“The idea is to have an open dialogue with citizens, governments, youth and civil society from Africa and Europe on the renewed Africa-EU partnership. As we wage a battle against a virus and recover from the economic and social shock of months of lockdown, now more than ever, we need each other. We need solid international partnerships.”, Jutta Urpilainen said.
A series of dialogues will follow this kick-off event, focusing on different aspects of the Africa-EU Partnership, and a range of EU Commissioners will be invited. These dialogues and reflections will feed into the process leading up to the EU-African Union Summit in October 2020 and help to refine the formulation of joint priorities.
Young people who contributed to this first online meeting discussed how young people’s voices can feed into AU-EU decision-making in a more structured way. Jutta Urpilainen mentioned that she herself was only 27 when first elected to the Finnish parliament, and strongly believes that it is important to engage with young people in political processes. She has the aim of always meeting with young people when visiting a partner country, for example on her recent Humanitarian Air Bridge flight to Burkina Faso. The title “Commissioner for International Partnerships” is new, intented to reflect equal partnerships rather than a donor-beneficiary relationship.
The Commissioner mentioned that the Post-Cotonou negotiations are making good progress, with around 95% of the agreement text already endorsed. The intention is to conclude negotiations by mid-July.