The European Union and African Union summit announced the imminent launch of a new EU investment package designed, among other things, to develop infrastructure in Africa.
The two-day EU-African Union (AU) summit concluded on Friday, February 18, in Brussels, with the adoption of a declaration on a “Joint Vision 2030.” It envisions “a renewed partnership for solidarity, security, peace and sustainable and lasting economic development and prosperity for our citizens and our future generations.”
For jointly addressing global challenges and accelerating vaccination
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Brussels that there are “a number of problems that we must solve together.” These include climate protection, global health, a rules-based multilateral order, peace and security, and migration, he said. “Europe and Africa can only answer the major questions of our time together.”
The final document adopted at the EU-AU summit includes, among other things, a €425 million European Union allocation for Africa to speed up vaccination campaigns against the coronavirus. Brussels also reiterated earlier commitments to fund vaccination. Meanwhile, issues related to vaccinations as well as intellectual property sparked controversy at the forum.
For accelerated access to medicines
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa thanked Europe for its help, but his renewed call to suspend patent rights to facilitate vaccine production went unanswered. “And we are talking about the lives of millions, hundreds of millions of people, not the profitability of a few companies,” Ramaphosa said. In his view, “it is unacceptable that Africa is always at the end of the line when it comes to access to medicines.”
His position was supported by civil society. For example, as Edwin Ihuoria, executive director of the African arm of the humanitarian organization ONE, said, “Unfortunately, the results of the summit are very disappointing in many places. Why have we been arguing about the temporary suspension of patents for two years now?” Meanwhile, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has said that the goal is technology transfer.
Compulsory licensing “could be a bridge,” according to the manuscript of her speech at the event with Ramaphosa. It also announced the imminent launch of an investment package of at least 150 billion euros, intended in particular for infrastructure development in Africa. It also includes expected private investments.
For the fight against illegal migration, for peace and security
On the issue of migration, among other things, it was decided to fight against illegal migration. At the same time, the final declaration called for the strengthening of the asylum system. There was also criticism from the civil society. The constant focus on curbing migration shows that Africa’s priorities are not being taken seriously, according to the European branch of the Catholic charity Caritas.
The EU and the AU have also pledged to continue cooperating on peace and security. Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrel announced Thursday that he would send a mission to Mali to analyze whether the country expects to cooperate with the EU after France announced it was withdrawing its peacekeepers. Mali’s transitional government was not represented at the summit.
EU Council President Charles Michel, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, AU President and Senegalese President Macky Sall, AU Commission President Moussa Faki Mahamat, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron attended the summit.