Whether it is a question of managing migratory flows, combating pandemics or ensuring the security of our continent, our destinies are linked. That is why, in 2019, I called for the implementation of a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa.
The EU-African Union Summit which starts on Thursday must enable the establishment of a renewed partnership which is more balanced, closer and more effective.
The first aspect concerns the strengthening of economic and trade relations between Europe and Africa, which are still very much hampered. The establishment of an intra-African free trade area should make it possible to develop trade between African countries, but also to facilitate the influx of investments. Africa can benefit from the EU’s unique expertise in this area.
To ensure that African businesses can take full advantage of the opportunities of the digital age, the EU investment plan should prioritise the development of the infrastructure needed for the digital economy (internet access, speed of connection).
By helping Africa to develop economically and create jobs, by improving access to education, by helping it to have access to vaccines against COVID-19, by accompanying the transformation of African agriculture to ensure its food security and by helping it cope with climate change, we will act on the causes of migration and make a major contribution to tackling the migration problem at its roots. It is nonetheless essential to cooperate closely with African countries in the fight against human trafficking and to make European aid conditional on the signing of agreements on the readmission of their nationals.
Finally, one of the obstacles to cooperation between the EU and Africa remains the issue of maintaining peace and security. The situation in East Africa and the instability in the Sahel region are major concerns. I would like to pay tribute here to the French soldiers who have fallen in the Sahel and to reiterate our gratitude for the heavy price paid by France to ensure the security of Europeans.
Beyond the military and civilian operations in which the EU is currently engaged, it is essential to continue developing the African Peace and Security Architecture. The EPP Group is convinced of the need for a strong European commitment to African security, based on an integrated and coordinated approach allowing Africa to take responsibility for its own security. This will also require institution building and good governance.