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Honourable Mr Seetanah LUTCHMEENARAIDOO, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade
Honourable Mrs Leela Devi DOOKUN-LUCHOOMUN, Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research
Dr Jean Claude Autrey, Chancellor of the University of Mauritius
Professor Sanjeev Sobhee, Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mauritius
Students representing Member States of the African Union and the European Union
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me first tell you how delighted I am to address you this morning for the opening ceremony of this Model African Union – European Union Summit. It is the first time that such an event is organised in Mauritius and I think that it provides a good opportunity to engage with future leaders on this topic.
This event is organised ahead of the forthcoming 5th AU-EU Summit, which is the most important event we have with Africa.
Today, you students from the University of Mauritius will take the role of Heads of State and government of Member States of the African Union and the European Union. You will debate on "Attracting sustainable and responsible investment", which is one of the key themes that will be discussed in the real Summit next week in Abidjan.
The overarching theme of the Summit is 'Investing in youth'. The EU believes that it is essential to ensure a meaningful participation and inclusion of young people in the preparation of the Summit as well as at the Summit itself.
We have a responsibility not only to work for young people but also to work with them.
A few weeks ago, 120 young people from both continents met during three days of lively debates at the 4th Africa-Europe Youth Summit, and developed a Declaration that will be put forward to Heads of State and Government at the Summit.
We need innovative approaches for engaging with young people on both sides so that they are heard and their concerns and proposals are taken effectively into account.
The Model AU-EU Summit, the first of its kind in Mauritius, provides us with a unique opportunity to engage with young people on such an important theme.
Why is today's theme "Attracting sustainable and responsible investment", so important?
Because both Africa and Europe have a common interest for making it happen. It is a key concern for both continents.
We need sustainable investment to create jobs and support growth in both continents. We need sustainable investment to bring concrete benefits to young populations and future generations.
You will have today an important challenge ahead of you: to formulate solutions and common actions on how to improve business climate, develop a higher number of sustainable projects and attract sustainable and responsible investment that create quality jobs. This all within the overarching objective of implementing Sustainable Development Goals for both Africa and Europe.
Allow me to provide you with a glance at the EU-Africa Partnership.
Over the past 10 years, the EU and Africa have already built a stronger and more political partnership based on shared values and interests.
In this context, AU-EU Summits of Heads of States and Governments take place every three years alternatively in Africa and Europe.
This partnership is accompanied by a Joint Strategy and action plans implemented through jointly identified priorities.
Among those priorities, we find: Peace and security; Regional economic integration, trade and infrastructure; Climate change; Energy; Migration, mobility and employment; and Science, information society and space.
The focus is on concrete joint actions at the global, continental or regional level. The ultimate objective is to have a significant impact on the daily lives of citizens on both continents.
Today, the European Union with its Member States is collectively Africa's main foreign investor, its principle trading partner, a key security provider, its main source of remittances, and its first partner in development and humanitarian assistance.
Through the Africa Peace Facility, the European Union is at the forefront of international support to the African Peace and Security agenda, providing substantial and predictable funding to the African Union's and African Regional Economic Communities' efforts in the area of peace and security.
Africa represents 19 out of a total of 35 missions implemented under the EU Common Security and Defence Policy. In this region, the EU has launched its first ever naval operation EU NAVFOR - Operation Atalanta to fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia. A few weeks ago, a Spanish vessel part of the operation visited Port Louis.
Coming to the future, EU leaders have in May this year issued a strategy on how to reshape and deepen the Africa-EU partnership. This will be at the heart of the Summit discussions.
The strategy pays particular attention to the aspirations and needs of young people, whose involvement in the overall process is being strongly encouraged.
I am certain that the debate will be of high quality and bring up innovative solutions to address in a common way challenges that both Europe and Africa have to face.
I am looking forward to the conclusions and recommendations that delegates will formulate at the end of the day. These conclusions and recommendations will guide the dialogue we have started this year with young leaders and that we plan to organise each year.
Before I conclude, I would like here to express my sincere appreciation to the Chancellor of the University of Mauritius and his team for their valuable support in organising this event in the Paul Octave Wiehe Auditorium.
I would also like to commend the work of the lecturers from the Faculties of Social Sciences and Humanities and Law and Management who have been working with the delegates for several weeks.
I hope that this event will contribute to raising awareness on the comprehensive partnership between the European Union and the African Union, and provide a platform for you to reflect on it.
Thank you for your attention.