On Thursday, 27 February, the 10th European Union-African Union Commission-to-Commission meeting was held at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa.
The meeting was co-chaired by the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, with the participation of 22 EU Commissioners and nine AU elected officials.
The visit marked a record-high participation of EU Commissioners, which was a testament to the priority that relations with Africa represent for the EU.
The aim of the meeting was to take note of progress on the priorities set in the 2017 Abidjan Declaration and to discuss the alignment of positions in four main areas: (i) sustainable growth, trade, investment and digitalisation; (ii) climate change and resilient infrastructure; (iii) peace, security and governance; and (iv) migration and mobility. In all priority areas, the two sides reiterated their commitment to support multilateralism as an effective modality in addressing global challenges.
On sustainable growth, trade, investment and digitalisation, the two Commissions stressed the importance of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and agreed on the need to prioritise regional infrastructure. The parties agreed to maximise synergies between European and African private sectors and to promote the diversification of African economies. The two sides agreed to improve domestic resource mobilisation and complement Africa's efforts to stop illicit financial flows. The two Commissions agreed to enhance youth skills development and better match skills with the labour market. They reaffirmed the contribution of rural transformation to sustainable growth and job creation and both continents agreed to enhance their partnership on digital infrastructure and the single digital market.
On climate change and resilient infrastructure, the two Commissions reaffirmed their commitments under the Paris Agreement and to work together at the UNFCCC conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2020. The African Union Commission took note of the Green Deal presented by the European Commission as the way to ensure a sustainable green transition for Europe. Both Commissions agreed to continue supporting the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) and to use the recommendations from the AU-EU Task Forces on Digital Economy, Transport and Connectivity, and Sustainable Energy Investment.
On peace, security and governance, the two Commissions emphasised the need to strengthen cooperation implemented through the 2018 AU-EU Memorandum of Understanding on Peace, Security and Governance including promotion of multilateralism, conflict prevention, crisis management, peace building, and health security. In view of promoting “African solutions to African security challenges”, they stressed the need to adapt and upscale cooperation against common threats. Recognising the need for sustainable financing, both sides stressed the significance of the AU Peace Fund, and exchanged on EU plans to establish the European Peace Facility.
On migration, mobility, youth, skills and innovation, the Commissions recalled commitments to developing a joint framework for a strengthened Continent-to-Continent dialogue on migration and mobility. They agreed to reinforce joint strategic management of refugees, migration and mobility at the continental level. They pledged to continue their efforts to provide protection in line with international standards, to create opportunities for refugees and host communities and to find sustainable solutions. They committed to intensify efforts in building capacity on migration management at continental, regional and national levels, built on the experience of the AU-EU-UN trilateral Taskforce.
On youth and skills, the two Commissions agreed on the need to strengthen cooperation through expanding the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Mobility, apprenticeship and other work-based learning and career guidance to address the skills mismatch. They further noted the need for harmonisation of higher education to improve relevance of curricula, academic mobility, and recognition of qualifications, quality assurance and accreditation. The two sides committed to continue cooperation in science, technology and innovation.
This meeting was critical as a building block of an enhanced partnership. High-level discussions will continue at the AU-EU Ministerial meeting in May 2020 in Kigali, Rwanda, and at the upcoming EU-AU Summit in October in Brussels, where both sides will solidify their commitments and joint approach on shared priorities.