Having arrived in Ghana on the eve of the great Kofi Annan's funeral, his life and the lessons he shared with us are in my thoughts. A great statesman and diplomat, he will continue to serve as an inspiration for my time here in Ghana. Now more than ever his words resonate: "We need to think of the future and the planet we are going to leave to our children and their children".
The EU has a long standing partnership with Ghana under the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement. We value highly our close partnership with Ghana and we share a broad common agenda to promote regional economic integration, peace and security, democracy, rule of law and human rights as well as to tackle crucial global challenges, such as climate change.
There have been important successes in our political cooperation. For example, Ghana was the first country to sign a Voluntary Partnership Agreement to ensure the wood produced and exported to Europe is of certified origin. And in 2016, Ghana and the EU signed and ratified an interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that brings European and Ghanaian markets closer together and can attract more investment to Ghana by lowering tariffs and making trade easier without harming traditional commercial sectors. Indeed, 100% of Ghana's exports enter the European market free of any duties and quotas thanks to the interim EPA.
In recent years, Ghana has experienced strong growth, developed its economy and strengthened its rule of law and respect for human rights. Consequently it has become a lower middle income country and focused on improving the well-being and prosperity of its 28 million inhabitants. These are great successes but as we have seen recently with the launch of the SDG Baseline report and Ghana's poverty profile, significant challenges remain on curbing poverty and putting a stop to the trend of increasing inequalities and regional disparities. The EU is convinced that Ghana can continue to pave the way for sustainable economic and social development on the African continent.
As Ghana's largest development partner, Europe is proud to see that our development cooperation has an impact on the daily lives of the Ghanaian people. Over the past 10 years alone, the European Commission and its Member States have provided on average more than € 400 million per year in official development assistance to Ghana, far more than any other development partner. Creating sustainable jobs for Ghana's youth is a top priority for the EU and our diverse portfolio of projects spans from agriculture and climate change, to decentralisation and anti-corruption, to technical and vocational education and training and skills-building.
In his 2018 State of the Union address, EU President Jean-Claude Juncker gave a strong message about a new vision of the relationship between Europe and Africa: "We agreed that donor-recipient relations are a thing of the past. We want to build a new partnership with Africa. We are proposing a "new Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs between Europe and Africa. This Alliance –as we envision it – would help create up to 10 million jobs in Africa in the next 5 years alone".
In the new related communication launched by the European Commission (Communication on a new Africa – Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs: Taking our partnership for investment and jobs to the next level) the following priorities have a direct link with job creation, actions as: boosting strategic investments for job creation and strengthening the role of the private sector; investing in people by investing in education and skills; strengthening business environment and investment climate and tapping the full potential of economic integration and trade.
I welcome you to this website of the European Union in Ghana where you can find out more about relations between the European Union and Ghana, and our development cooperation projects in Ghana. You can also use this website as an entrance to find out more about the European Union and its relations with the rest of the world.
If you would like to stay informed of what the EU is doing in Ghana in real time, visit our Facebook page or Twitter account. You can also follow me on Twitter: @DAcconciaEU
I am looking forward to working with all the Ghanaians who are interested in developing our partnership.
European Union Ambassador