Op-Ed by European Commission President Barroso – African Union Commission Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma (24/04/2013)

Two Continents, One Vision

Today, 26th April in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, we have the 6th edition of the College to College meeting between the African Union Commission and the European Commission. We will take stock of progress on the Africa-EU Partnership and reflect on our shared vision for the future.

In our ever changing world, one thing is sure: Africa and Europe will remain each other's closest neighbour.  Africa's 54 countries and the European Union's soon-to-be 28 member states have a shared neighbourhood, history and future.  It was in this spirit that Africa and Europe came together at the Lisbon Summit in December 2007 to create the Africa-EU Partnership, based upon a strong political relationship and close cooperation in all areas.  Our Partnership aims to bridge the development divide between Africa and Europe through closer economic cooperation and the promotion of inclusive and sustainable development in both our continents, living side by side in peace, security, prosperity, solidarity and human dignity.

Since the Lisbon Summit, the world has seen further massive changes, notably the global financial crisis and the Arab Spring, which have left their mark on both Africa and Europe. Our increasingly interconnected world and its global power shifts are also important factors of change for both continents. At the same time, our Partnership has steadily gained momentum, delivering solid results across a number of key areas. We are working particularly closely in the area of peace and security to strengthen Africa's capacity to prevent and resolve crisis situations and maintain peace. We also have major programmes in agriculture and rural development, infrastructure and energy, environment, research and development and student mobility. Our two continents have also reinforced cooperation on global issues such as climate change and counter terrorism.

Africa and Europe now face the challenge of building sustainable economic growth and ensuring that it is inclusive in creating the jobs needed by our people. The EU is engaged in this process through the Europe 2020 initiative launched in 2010 which maps out Europe's growth strategy during this decade. Europe 2020 deals with both short term challenges linked to the financial crisis and longer term structural reforms linked to globalisation, pressure on natural resources and an ageing population. To achieve sustainable and inclusive growth, Europe has set a series of ambitious targets on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy to be achieved by 2020. The EU has also revamped its global development policy, in its Agenda for Change, which places greater emphasis on democratic governance, the private sector and sustainable and inclusive growth. Europe's development efforts will also be concentrated on the world's poorest, particularly in Africa.

Africa quickly came through the global financial crisis, posting 5% growth across the continent in 2012, with double digit growth in several countries. With its population set to double by 2050 and become increasingly urbanised and youthful, Africa's challenge is to sustain its current impressive growth and create the millions of new jobs its growing population needs, particularly for women and young people, and accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. The AU is celebrating 50 years of continental integration this year and has embarked on the definition of its long term strategic framework to meet this challenge. It already has in place a number of major flagship programmes including the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), the Accelerated Industrial development of Africa (AIDA), African Mining Vision (AMV), Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) which together are pushing forward Africa's continental growth and integration agenda.

For both Africa and Europe, sustainable and inclusive growth requires coordinated action at continental, regional and national levels.  EU and AU institutions need to ensure that the continent wide policies and programmes which they pursue support continental growth effectively.  At member state level, full ownership and commitment is essential from Head of States and Governments, including at regional and local levels.  Civil society, including the private sector and social partners, also need to be fully involved and are, indeed, the engines that will drive growth forward.

The EU and Africa's efforts come together in our Africa-EU Partnership.  A great deal has been achieved since 2007, but much remains to be done.  This is a partnership built on the clear understanding that the future of Africa and Europe are closely intertwined.  We will continue to cooperate on global issues, work together to resolve peace and security crises, improve governance and address key development challenges such as migration and mobility, the management of raw materials, sustainable energy, trade and regional integration and the post MDG development agenda.

In April 2014, the EU and Africa will again come together, this time in Brussels at the Fourth Africa-EU Summit, to review what we have achieved under our Partnership and map out our vision for the future.  We are two continents, but we share the common vision of a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future for our people. Together in partnership we can make it happen.

EC President José Barroso -  AUC Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma