EU budget must support ambitious new Africa partnership

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

5th African Union - European Union (AU-EU) summit in Abidjan [Legnan Koula/EPA/EFE]

The next seven year EU budget must be ambitious enough to support an ambitious new partnership with Africa, argue a group of senior former EU ministers.

This opinion piece is signed by a group of former EU ministers listed at the bottom of this article.

As the European Union embarks on negotiations for its next seven-year budget – the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – we want to highlight the importance of securing a budget that can support an ambitious and visionary new partnership with Africa.

The next MFF will end just three years before the deadline to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and could be historic in delivering for both Europe and its partners. Now is not the time for a business-as-usual approach.

Africa is on the cusp of demographic transformation which will give it the world’s youngest population by 2050 – 10 times the size of the EU’s. At this critical juncture, Africa needs more support from its closest partners. The continent will need to create 22.5 million jobs each year in order to provide opportunities for its booming population.

Much of this population growth is taking place in the poorest and most fragile states, where extreme climate, extreme poverty and extreme ideology compete to prevent young people reaching their full potential and their countries benefiting from an educated and empowered workforce. There are rarely national solutions to these challenges and with other global players stepping back from their international responsibilities, we urgently need strong European leadership.

We therefore call on Europe and its leaders to agree on an ambitious MFF, with increased investments in Africa targeted at the poorest and most fragile states. The next EU budget must deliver not only for the challenges of today but also ensure that the EU lives up to its commitments and sets us on a path to ending extreme poverty.

A youthful Africa represents an enormous opportunity to harness a potential engine for global growth, peace and prosperity. Investing now is a win-win opportunity that Europe must grasp firmly.

Signatories:

  • Jean-Marc Ayrault, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, France
  • Philippe Douste-Blazy, former Foreign Affairs Minister, France
  • Erhard Eppler, former Federal Ministers for Economic Cooperation, Germany
  • Eamon Gilmore, former Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Ireland
  • Miguel Angel Moratinos, former Foreign Affairs Minister and Cooperation Minister, Spain
  • Lapo Pistelli, former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Italy
  • Michel Sapin, former Finance Minister, France
  • Benita Ferrero-Waldner, former Foreign Minister, Austria
  • André Vallini, former State Secretary for Development, France
  • Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, former Federal Ministers for Economic Cooperation, Germany

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