The European Business Council for Africa

To start, I want to thank the Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chairperson of the African Union Executive Council, Christophe Lutundula, our Rwandan host, Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, and the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission Monique Nsanzabaganwa for hosting us and for this great organisation.

Our two continents face many challenges that threaten both Africa and Europe. And there are, at the same time countless opportunities available for us. On which we can and we should and we have to work together. There are countless opportunities, not only challenges.

With this in mind, we must produce concrete results for our fellow citizens. Only together we can move better, and there is an urgent need to accelerate the pace of how we move and for our partnership to take an unprecedented qualitative leap.

You know there are, in the world, there is no other border like the Mediterranean that separates two worlds with so big differences on demographics and on wealth. There is no other sea, other mountain, other river, that separates two worlds with such different dynamics from the point of view of the young people on one side, old people on the other side, differences on economic capabilities, cumulated capital and wealth. And this has to be balanced. Because this unbalance is unsustainable.

So we have to share the common ambition, we have to clarify misunderstandings and we have to talk frankly with each other in order to look for solutions, because that’s what friends and partners do.

There are three interconnected areas for our discussions today and I want to focus on and where we need and have to do better together.

First and foremost, the response to the pandemic. We agreed on the importance of further investing in health and social protection systems in Africa. And on increasing the production and acquittable access to vaccines, medical treatments and health technologies. We have recognized, everybody does, that there is an unbearable vaccination gap that has to be closed. A gap which is far too big between Africa and Europe. And it is of the paramount importance to act quickly because it’s not only a moral duty, it is also essential for everyone else and to get the pandemic globally under the control. And not only the pandemic from the health point of view, even economics. The disruption that we are suffering in the global economics today has a lot to do with the fact that we don’t have a global answer to the health side of the pandemic. So closing this vaccination gap is something on which we will have to invest much more energies and resources.

The second one comes after the pandemic. A world which will be better and greener and for that we should be champions of global sustainable growth. The President of the African Union and the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo has sent, us, today, to the press, a clear message. Africa is not a big emitter but is one of the most severely damaged by the climate change. So green growth is not an European ambition, it is not an European idea that we want to impose to the others, especially to the Africans, no. It’s an agenda imposed to all of us. By our past, present and future human action and by nature answering to it. And to get our prosperity and growth right we need the transition which has to be more than anything else,fair. If the transition is not fair among citizens and among countries, it will not happen.

The third and final area I would like to mention here, is peace and security. And I cannot agree more with the idea of “African solutions to African problems”, because it has been very clearly stated by the President of Rwanda [Paul Kagame] that no matter how much money, no matter how many troops you engage, there is not going to be a solution without the strong ownership of the people on building a good governance. We will continue supporting Africa, a number of African partners, on peace and security issues. No other partner matches the level of our engagement with Africa. We don’t have any kind of hidden agenda, at all levels, politically, financially or technically, we will support peace and security in Africa.

And I cannot close this conference without mentioning Sudan and the coup d'Etat that we see ongoing. The actions of the military represent a betrayal of the revolution, the transition and the legitimate request of the Sudanese people for peace, justice and economic development.

Let me say again to conclude: We don't always agree on everything, not even among Europeans we agree on everything, but we agree on the essentials and this is what we are here for, this is why we have to work together to make our partnership, to have an unprecedented leap forward from which we - all of us - can benefit together.

Thank you.



Q. On Sudan, you just talked about it and you put such an emphasis in your speech in the afternoon about the rule of law and good governance. So, it seems there is no common language agreed on the joint communiqué on the coup [d’état] in Sudan. Do you regret it and what is your explanation for this lack of common language on this event?

Non, il n’y a pas de différence. Il y a tout simplement que j’ai exprimé le point de vue de l’Union européenne. Dans le communiqué, on ne fait pas référence au Soudan parce que nos amis africains ont considéré que, en étant aujourd'hui même, à cette heure-ci, un débat au sein de son comité politique ayant lieu, il fallait attendre de savoir quelle était la position qu'ils allaient agréer entre eux.

Donc il n’y a pas une contradiction, il y a tout simplement qu’on a préféré que le communiqué conjoint ne reflète pas une position que nos amis de l'Union africaine étaient justement en train de discuter et je dois respecter évidemment ces procédures. Mais ça ne devait pas m'empêcher d’exprimer ce que j'ai déjà dit au nom de l'Union européenne. D'ailleurs, mon co-président a aussi exprimé sa préoccupation dans le débat final de cette réunion. Et j’insiste que ce qu’il s'est passé au Soudan est une marche arrière par rapport à ce que la révolution démocratique avait obtenu. Et que nous demandons, nous exigeons, la mise en liberté du Premier ministre et de son gouvernement. Et qu'on reprenne le chemin démocratique qui vient d'être avorté.

Q. We hear a lot about the phrase ‘African solutions for African problems’. I am just wondering what, inherent in that, is clearly a problem that it has to be mentioned. I am just wondering, when you think about it, what it means to you and what does it mean that it has to be mentioned at all? We never hear, for instance, ‘European solutions for European problems’. So, I am wondering what it means to you, what it feels to you that a continent has to make the point that it must find its own solutions for its own problems. Conceptually, how does that feel and what do you think of it?

C’est clair. L’Afrique est composée d’un certain nombre d’états souverains indépendants, qui font face à des problèmes qu'eux doivent résoudre. Mais, c’est évident que l’Afrique, comme un ensemble d’états indépendants et souverains, c'est quelque chose de récent dans l’histoire. Il y a eu un passé colonial, où des puissances européennes étaient présentes sur le sol africain et qui ont imposé ce points de vue, à commencer, parfois, par la façon dont on a tracé les frontières. Cela appartient du passé, mais le passé parfois résiste à disparaître. Il y a toujours un héritage historique, qui fait que, évidemment, un certain nombre de pays européens ont eu des rapports qu’on peut dire privilégié, étroit avec des états africains avec lesquels ils avaient des liens historiques très forts.

Mais au fur et à mesure que l’Afrique devient un ensemble politique d’états indépendants et souverains, c’est à eux de trouver leurs propres solutions. Il y a des exemples qui montrent la capacité et la volonté de le faire.

Vous dites qu’on ne dit pas « des solutions européennes aux problèmes européens ». Aujourd'hui on ne le dit pas, mais permettez-moi de vous dire que la solution aux grands problèmes européens des siècles derniers ont été apportés par des pays non-européens. Sans eux, le résultat de la guerre mondiale aurait été un autre, pour donner un exemple. Parfois la solution aux problèmes entre les européens, a été facilité par des pays qui ne l’étaient pas.

Donc c’est la maturité d'âge, la maturité politique, le développent profond d’une société qui forge descapacités pour faire face à ces problèmes. Je pense qu’il y a quelque chose que le Président du Rwanda [Paul Kagame] a dit - qu’il n’a pas dit par rapport à l’Afrique mais par rapport à un autre pays - mais qui doit nous servir à nous, européens, à nous occidentaux dans un sens plus large, c’est que ce n’est ni la force militaire, ni la capacité financière qui décide aujourd'hui de l’histoire. C'est la gouvernance et c’est l’ownership, l’appropriation parmi le peuple de son destin. Et c’est cela le sens profond de « les problèmes des africains, doivent être résolus par les africains ». Ceci ne veut pas dire que nous, européens, nous nous sentons étrangers à la solution de ce problème. Mais, en voulant aider, en voulant accompagner, sans jamais vouloir se substituer.


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