The summit comes at a crucial time in the relationship between both continents, in a world that has changed with increased challenges as well as threats affecting both partners. These common problems can only be addressed through an even closer and stronger, mutually beneficial and strategic partnership. The summit aims at lifting this partnership to a higher strategic level, increase cooperation in the international arena guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the AU's Agenda 2063 and the EU's Global strategy.
Ahead of the summit EU High Representative Federica Mogherini explained: "It is not a donor-recipient Summit. It is a Summit between political partners that share the same approach to global issues and multilateralism, and that have a common agenda to develop together." She continued: "It is a Summit on the partnership between the European Union and the African Union on many different fields, from peace and security, where we need to increase even more our cooperation; on global issues like climate change and environmental issues; to economy, investments, creation of jobs, education."
In Abidjan, Africa and Europe will discuss their shared commitments to:
Together with its members states the EU is the largest donor of development aid in Africa, investing EUR 20 billion every year. Additionally through the new European External Investment Plan, the EU aims at mobilising at least EUR 44 billion in private investment by 2020 and targeting this investment to the most fragile areas in support to the SDGs.
The EU is working closely with African partners on peace and security. So far European military and civilian missions have already trained 30 000 African soldiers, policemen and judges. Currently 10 000 European women and men in uniform are serving in Africa.
"Because, we care about Africa's security, for Africa, but also for ourselves. We want it to be sustainable security. And this is why, we want this to be done by African forces in the lead." Federica Mogherini explained. For example with EUR 50 million the EU was the first to support the joint military force set up by the G5 Sahel countries.
Close cooperation between Europe and Africa in tackling the root causes of migration, saving lives and dismantling the criminal organisations of human traffickers, is more necessary than ever. Migration is a global issue and can only be properly addressed globally and in the spirit of partnership and full compliance of international laws and obligations. In the run up to the Summit the EU High Representative explained: "We tend to perceive that migration and refugee flows are a matter of concern only for Europe. The majority of these flows happen inside the African continent. And this is why in the Summit in Abidjan, we will face together the issue of mobility and migration with a positive agenda, to see how we can both benefit from the movements between our continents, across the Mediterranean sea, but especially, how the AU and the EU can together set a positive agenda for managing this global phenomenon in the global context of the UN Global Compact on Migration and Refugees."
The EU is contributing significantly to help in managing these challenges in full partnership. The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa amounts to EUR 3.2 billion so far and runs 117 programmes with a focus on economic development, job creation, governance, food security, healthcare and migration management. Together with the UN agencies within 12 months the EU managed to help 15 000 Africans to leave detention camps in Libya and has announced 50 000 opportunities for resettlement for those in need of international protection.
In a recent speech, Federica Mogherini said: "So to conclude, we go to Abidjan with new ideas, with new initiatives- with an unprecedented investment plan, with our migration work that for the first time ever has turned into a real partnership, which is -I believe- the key to manage this phenomenon effectively, and with all our common work and support for peace and security."
The summit will bring together Heads of State or government of the EU and the AU as well as a range of high ranking international observers. The EU will be represented by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk and President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. President Donald Tusk and AU Chairperson and President of Guinea Alpha Conde will co-chair the summit.
In the run-up to the Summit a series of side events has taken place: the Africa-EU civil society forum in Tunis 11-13 July; the 6th EU-Africa business forum took place in Abidjan on 27 November and saw approximately 1500 participants; the 4th Africa-EU youth summit on 9-10 October in Abidjan, which bought together 120 young leaders and presented the starting point of the Youth Plug-In Initiative. This innovative initiative saw 36 young fellows working together for a period of 5 weeks to develop a series of recommendations for the leaders at the summit.
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