Thursday, March 23, 2023

Our fight for democracy & equal EU-Africa partnership continues – Socialists and Democrats Group after 5th Africa Week in Brussels

The fifth edition of The Africa Week Initiative, organized by the Socialists and Democrats Group, which took place in Brussels from Tuesday, February 8 to Wednesday, February 10, successfully came to an end.

The programme, which was a fully-fledged event about EU-Africa relations, brought together top-notch dignitaries from Europe and Africa.

These personalities include politicians, young people and representatives of civil society who discussed and outlined vital issues that border on their common future.

After a week of intense, constructive and fruitful debates and true to its tradition, the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, averred that equal partnership, democracy, respect for human rights and due diligence risk being empty words if Europe does not commit to a real partnership.

They strongly advanced that the EU must put aside its lazy approach where democracy means the status quo, due diligence means business as usual, and equal partnership means some partners are more equal than others.

The successful event also confirms its relentless and passionate fight for Africa and with African people against the breach of the rule of law, violence, inequalities and educational gaps.

“Together, we will make it.”

In his address, S&D Coordinator in the Development Committee Udo Bullmann said: “Primum vivere deinde philosophari, as the Latin saying goes. We must follow this concrete approach if we want to eradicate this pandemic and leave no country, no economy, no person, or family behind. This is true for Europe, but it is especially true for our sister continent, Africa. The message we want to deliver to next week’s EU-Africa Summit, stemming from the deep debates during our Africa week, is clear: we must reach the WHO target of 40% fully vaccinated worldwide by scaling up vaccination in Africa to prevent more deaths, more mutations and more social and economic crises.”

He continued, “Europe must help deliver the 900 million vaccine doses necessary and increase funding for a critical vaccination infrastructure in Africa. We must also support African partners by helping them recover from the crisis; invest in their communities; ensure strong support for education; secure a more sustainable economy; and effectuate decent jobs. Over 40 million people have fallen into extreme poverty in Africa due to Covid-19, and over 30 million children are still not back in school. These are only some of the dreadful consequences of the pandemic that add up to the long lasting problems in Africa; such as corruption, instability, under development, breach of the rule of law and human rights. It’s high time the EU invests concretely in an equal partnership if we really want to seize opportunities and face our common challenges together.”

Mr. Pedro Marques, S&D Vice-President responsible for Foreign Affairs, on his part, said, “The conclusion drawn from ‘Africa Week’ is clear: strengthening the EU-Africa partnership is in our mutual interest. Africa is the continent of the future, where many of our hopes and expectations lie.

“The EU is ready for the reinforcement of a stronger partnership, grounded in respect for human rights and fostering peace, security and economic and social development.

“In the attached document we outline our ten priorities drawn from the discussions we had during Africa week. Ten key political messages and calls we want to send to the European and African leaders before the crucial Summit next week to forge a real and equal partnership with Africa”

Africa has been and will continue to be a priority for the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

For S & D, Africa is an equal partner in endeavors, aspirations and dreams to fight inequality so our actions must mirror this reality.

The global pandemic of Covid-19 has magnified the scourge of inequality within Africa. Inequality and its consequences, compounded by the old challenges of extreme poverty, hunger and unemployment, are our main concerns.

As the lead progressive force in the European Parliament, S & D’s actions have been crucial in ensuring a fairer response to the challenges posed by the financial crisis and its severe economic and social consequences.

Some of the special guests from Africa and Europe included: Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, co-chair of the African Union’s African Vaccine Delivery Alliance; Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (Bobi Wine), Ugandan Opposition Leader, musician and former Member of Parliament; Prof. Ms. Petro Terblanche, Managing Director, Afrigen; EU Commissioners Jutta Urpilainen and Helena Dalli, for International Partnerships and for Equality.

At the end the following 10- Key points were arrived:

1. The EU-Africa partnership should be based on equal footing, respectful dialogue, mutual ownership and shared responsibility; respecting the interest of both sides. We need to work together to combat the pandemic and overcome itssocial, economic and health consequences though a green, sustainable, gender-just, social and fair growth and cooperation, implementing all aspects of the SDGs. It is therefore high time to develop a joined vision to work for a sustainable and just future of our planet. A new alliance of both continents to this end will be fundamental for our success.

2. We urge a rethinking of the cooperation between our two continents, the new approach should strengthen Africa’s supply and value chains and integrate them into our collaboration to ensure the creation of more decent jobs giving young professionals graduating from institutions in both continents an opportunity.

3. In that, respect we call on the EU to continue demonstrating solidarity and lead the efforts with international partners by supporting the most vulnerable nations in Africa in their recovery beyond the COVID 19 pandemic in order to build resilient, equal and inclusive societies.

4. We emphasize the urgency and seriousness of irreversible global heating and we urge leaders to work constructively together for the benefit of all people and planet.

5. Underline that dealing with the climate emergency should be across all policies, not as a stand – alone issue.

6. We call for predictable, accountable and transparent EU support in scaling up climate action and adaptation in African countries; demonstrate fair burden-sharing and therefore scale technical and innovative financial support for the climate risk management mechanism in order to address loss and damage on the African continent.

7. We also note with concern that small businesses and start-ups all led by young people have been affected by the pandemic, the EU-Africa partnership must take deliberate action to assist young people in these sectors to get back on their feet and contribute significantly in lifting our continents out of the pandemic induced recession.

8. We strongly condemn military coups against democratic governments and urge respect for the rule of law and democratic principles.

9. Underlines that acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines is critical to personal health, protecting vulnerable populations, reopening socio-economic life, and achieving population health and safety through immunity. The inherently social nature of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Africa is potentially influenced by age, race, education, politics, geographical location, and employment. Along with the provision of information, COVID-19 vaccine communication strategies need to form part of broader trust-building measures that focus on relationships, transparency, participation, and justice. The pandemic also provides a unique opportunity to positively intervene and reduce vaccine hesitancy trends more generally.

10. Finally, the partnership must assist Africa more urgently to develop its Free Trade Area agreement to include a customs union to allow young people with skills across Africa to seek opportunity without hindrance of the borders.

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