EU-Africa relations take centre stage at the Foreign Affairs Council

Reference Number:  , Press Release Issue Date: May 16, 2017
 

Minister for Foreign Affairs George W. Vella attended the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. The four main items on the agenda were the implementation of the Global Strategy in the fields of security and defence, the situation in the Horn of Africa, EU-Africa Relations, and the Eastern Partnership.

The meeting began with a discussion on the implementation of the EU Global Strategy in the fields of security and defence. The foreign ministers highlighted the importance of maximising existing tools, as well as the need for the EU to take a more active role in the fields of security and defence. A number of foreign ministers also mentioned the need to address cyber threats.

The ministers also had an in-depth discussion on the situation in the Horn of Africa, a region of strategic importance to the EU that is facing numerous challenges, such as security issues, regional instability, humanitarian problems, piracy, and climate change. The foreign ministers spoke about the need for the EU to continue assisting the countries of the Horn of Africa in securing the region and their anti-piracy efforts. The importance of the CSDP mission EUNAVFOR Atalanta was also highlighted.

The ministers then discussed Africa-EU relations in view of the fifth Africa-EU Summit. This summit will serve as an opportunity to step up the level of engagement and bolster cooperation between the two sides, with youth being main overarching theme. Minister Vella spoke about the challenges youth in Africa are facing, namely limited education and employment opportunities. He also said that the forthcoming Africa-EU Summit will be a unique opportunity to reshape and strengthen our partnership with Africa and allow us to better address common challenges and opportunities. Minister Vella also welcomed the focus on sustainable and inclusive economic development, as well as proposals for public-private partnerships. He referred to the Valletta Summit and spoke about the need to keep migration high on the agenda. We also need to keep in mind that Africa is not a unique scenario but several countries with different challenges and prospects.

After an informal lunch with the Chairperson of the African Union Moussa Faki Mahahat, the meeting resumed with a discussion on the Eastern Partnership in view of the EaP Summit that will be held in Brussels in November, which will be an opportunity to have realistic but ambitious and forward-looking goals. Minister Vella said that the summit will be an occasion to reaffirm the EU’s strong commitment to the advancing multilateral and bilateral relations with the six countries based on positive developments and to outline a renewed vision for the future.

During this meeting, the High Representative expressed her appreciation for Minister Vella’s contribution to the Council over the past four years and wished him the very best for the future.


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