Josep Borrell was on his first official visit to the African Union and Ethiopia as EU High Representative / Vice-President on 27-28 February.
On 27 February, he attended, together with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and 19 European Commissioners, the 10th Commission-to-Commission meeting of the European Union and the African Union.
The High Representative said: “As we are embarking in renewing our partnership, including through a new strategy with Africa, the meeting of the two Commissions of our continental organisations brought frank and fruitful exchanges. I look forward to continuing to strengthen our cooperation and joint work and to driveproper change. The next occasion to do so is already fixed for beginning of May in Kigali, for the EU-AU meeting of Foreign Ministers.”
High Representative / Vice-President Josep Borrell alsomet with UNSG Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga. He reiterated that the EU will continue stepping up its engagement in the Horn of Africa - a region of strategic importance - in cooperation with the United Nations.
On 28 February, Josep Borrell met with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed. The High Representative / Vice-President reaffirmed the EU’s strong support to the political and economic reform agenda of the Ethiopian Government. They also discussed a number of regional issues.
As Ethiopia prepares for upcoming elections, the High Representative announced during his visit his decision to deploy an EU Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) to observe the general elections scheduled for 29 August 2020, following the invitation received by Ethiopian authorities. This decision confirms the EU’s commitment to support further consolidation of Ethiopian democracy.
The High Representative / Vice-President also met with African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Smaїl Chergui. They discussed the continent’s general situation and crises in the Sahel, Somalia and Libya and joint stabilisation efforts.
Josep Borrell also visited a shoe factory operated by Ethio-Leather Industry, a company receiving EU support through the EU’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. This company has created over 1 300 jobs, therebycontributing to addressing the root causes of irregular migration from Northern and Central Ethiopia. It has so far hosted more than 200 trainees for apprenticeship schemes in the shoe and leather good industry.
The High Representative concluded its visit by saying: “The European Union has always been a committed and reliable partner for Ethiopia. The Government and the Ethiopian people have embarked on a courageous reform path that we will continue supporting, as the country is approaching a crucial milestone in its history with the upcoming elections. We also commend the Ethiopia’s significant efforts in hosting a large number of refugees and migrants. Ethiopia can count on the EU’s continued commitment to support regional stabilisation”