The European Business Council for Africa

Digital cooperation is a cornerstone of the AU-EU strategic partnership. This was underlined by representatives from the European Union and the African Union at the first Africa-Europe Digital for Development (D4D) Hub Multi-Stakeholder Forum, which took place on 18 March 2022, under the theme “Digital Transformation for Sustainable Development in Africa”. The event, which took place virtually, was co-hosted by the African Union Commission and the European Commission with the aim of promoting exchanges and collaboration with private sector, enterprises, civil society organisations, and experts in the digital field from both continents.

Ms Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships said: “Today we kicked off a much-needed dialogue with our private sector and civil society partners in Africa and Europe to build a shared digital future that leaves no one behind. This is the first step in implementing concretely the deliverables of the recent EU-AU Summit. In line with the Global Gateway Strategy, the EU will scale up investments, support innovation, and promote digital rights. Bridging the digital divide is key in fighting inequalities. To achieve this, we must work together with all our partners in the digital ecosystem.”

Forests are a key pillar of sustainable development, providing priceless ecological, economic, social benefits at local, national and global level. They perform key ecosystem services, create jobs for communities, revenue for governments, and hold cultural and spiritual value.

In Ghana, the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union has brought a transformational change. The VPA’s aim is to improve forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in legal timber products. But the VPA’s impacts have gone way beyond the legality of the timber traded by Ghana.

From 14 to 29 March, the EU will participate in resumed global biodiversity meetings to advance on the development of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework – a new global accord to halt and reverse the loss of the planet's plants, animals and ecosystems. The talks in Geneva are the last official session for governments to negotiate on the once-in-a-decade global agreement before it arrives in Kunming, China, to be adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference COP15 later in the year. The Framework will guide global action for nature and people, which is vital for tackling climate change and building a fairer, safer, healthier world for everyone, everywhere.

Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, and Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, today issued a statement on the occasion of the Tenth African Fiscal Forum titled ‘Fiscal policies and reforms for the post-pandemic era’. Delegates at the Forum, which is taking place virtually on March 10-11, 2022, include high-level participation by the Fund and Commission by Mr. Bo Li, Deputy Managing Director, and Mr. Koen Doens, Director General of DG International Partnerships, respectively, as well as delegates from African ministers of finance, policymakers and representatives from bilateral partners, multilateral institutions, and civil society.

Ms. Urpilainen and Ms. Georgieva stated: “Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is recovering from an unprecedented crisis. Following the sharp contraction of 2020, growth accelerated in 2021, supported by improvements in international trade and commodity prices.

The Council agreed its position (‘general approach’) on the European Commission proposal for a corporate sustainability reporting directive (CSRD). This draft directive will complement the European sustainable finance strategy.

"The adoption, at the instigation of the French presidency, of a common position by the member states on this text is another decisive step in the development of a European regulatory framework for sustainable finance. Ultimately, companies with more than 250 employees or listed companies will now have to translate their environmental, social and governance policy into standardised, justified and certified information documents. This means greater transparency for citizens, consumers and investors so that businesses can play their full part in society. This is the end of greenwashing. Today, Europe sets the rigorous non-financial reference standards of tomorrow, in line with our environmental and social ambitions." - Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economic Affairs, Finance and Recovery

Main results
The heads of state or government of the member states of the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) met for the sixth European Union - African Union summit in Brussels on 17 and 18 February 2022.

The meeting was co-chaired by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel and the President of Senegal and the Chairperson of the AU, Macky Sall.

Ahead of the summit, EU leaders took part in an informal meeting of the members of the European Council on the latest developments related to Russia and Ukraine.

African and European representatives of the private and public sector concluded major deals to support Africa’s sustainable growth and creating decent jobs at the 7th EU-Africa Business Forum (EABF). The Forum took place on 16-17 February in a hybrid format, as part of the Africa-Europe Week and in the margins of the African Union-European Union Summit. Financial institutions, business organisations and other actors signed or announced more than 20 agreements to support areas such as health, agriculture, clean energy, youth and entrepreneurship, digital, automotive and others.

European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “I am pleased to see the EU-Africa Business Forum yields tangible trade and investment results. These commitments will benefit businesses and people on both continents. We will only achieve our common goal of a strong, inclusive, green and digital recovery by joining forces with our partner organisations and the private sector. Supporting young entrepreneurs is particularly close to my heart. Youth’s energy and creativity is crucial to Africa’s booming economy.”

In the margins of the 6th European Union - African Union summit on 17 and 18 February 2022, over 10,000 delegates from Europe, Africa and beyond participated in the first Africa-Europe Week together with 15,000 delegates in the 7th EU-Africa Business Forum (EABF). Hosted in a hybrid format in Brussels and virtually, during over 100 sessions, panel discussions and concerts, this new forum’s objective has been to strengthen cross-continent people-to-people relations, through providing a space for youth, civil society (CSO), cultural actors and the private sector to discuss the aspects of the Africa-Europe partnerships that matter most to them.

Results of the sessions during Africa-Europe Week and EABF culminated with outcomes of the youth, CSO and business discussions being presented to the 6th EU-AU Summit, running concurrently in Brussels. EU-AU Summit, running concurrently in Brussels.

In the margins of the 6th European Union - African Union summit on 17 and 18 February 2022, European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen launches the first Africa-Europe Week including the 7th EU-Africa Business Forum (EABF). This new forum’s objective is to strengthen cross-continent people-to-people relations.

The Africa-Europe week aims at bringing together young people, civil society organisations, local authorities, cultural actors and the private sector from both continents to discuss the aspects of the Africa-Europe political partnership that matter most to them.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen looks forward to receiving participants for these exchanges, online and in person, in the coming weeks:

“Strengthening people to people contacts is central to the new Global Gateway strategy and our Africa-Europe renewed partnership, building on a number of joint priorities and enhanced focus on human development. As a new platform of exchange, the Africa-Europe Week will push forward the essential views of young people, civil society, local authorities, cultural actors and the private sector of both continents."

The European Commission has launched their Africa Knowledge Platform allowing users to browse their collection of geospatial datasets, discover interactive stories and interact with analytical tools:

A gateway to data and information on Africa's social, economic, territorial and environmental development, developed by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.