By Emmanuel TATAW, Cameroon Tribune, 01-04-2014
The significance of the 4th EU-Africa Summit that begins tomorrow in Brussels draws strength from shared history, culture and geography.
All is set in Brussels for the 4th EU-Africa Summit slated for tomorrow and Thursday. It will bring together African and EU leaders as well as the leaders of EU and African Union institutions.” Investing in people, prosperity and peace”, will be the priority theme scheduled for discussions at the summit. Cameroon and the European Union have excellent long lasting relations since the signing of conventions of 1963 and 1969.The presence in Yaoundé of the European Union Permanent Representative and a Cameroon Ambassador accredited to Brussels illustrates the significance of this relationship.
More than sixty per cent of external trade of Cameroon is with the European Union which is also the first development partner of Cameroon thanks to the European development fund. Bound together by shared history, culture and geography, therefore Cameroon in particular and Africa in general and Europe have always had close exchanges between their peoples. Cooperation between European Union and Africa appears to reflect the diverse and rich Partnership between the two Continents. EU and African Heads of State adopted the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) in 2007 as the political framework defining cooperation between the two Continents based on a shared vision and common principles. The partnership between the two Continents continues to deepen the solidarity and commonality of interest, becoming the main vehicle for achieving shared prosperity and peace. Since the adoption of the Joint Africa-EU strategy in Lisbon in 2007 both countries have undergone profound economic and political changes. Africa’s average GDP has grown by 52% between 2003 and 2011. In 2012, eight of the world’s ten fastest growing economies were from Africa. The Continent also has the youngest and fastest growing population in the world. African integration has advanced with the adoption by all of measures to promote closer cooperation. Europe has also changed dramatically within the same ten-year period. The EU has grown from fifteen to twenty eight member states. It has also taken steps towards greater integration with the creation of the Euro and the adoption of the Lisbon treaty.
One of the main frameworks for relations between Africa and the European Union is the Cotonou Agreement adopted in 2000. It replaced the Lome convention for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries of 1975. It covers the EU relations with seventy nine countries and represents that continent’s most comprehensive partnership agreement with developing countries. The central objective of the Cotonou agreement is the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty. The objective ties with sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy. Funding for the support of programmes and initiatives benefitting ACP countries is from the Tenth European Development Fund. Over the past years, Africa has achieved concrete results in bringing out the professional potential of people through training, and education in line with the Millennium Development Goals. Thank to EU aid, close to three and half million people received technical and vocational training in the past five years. Another nine and a half million or so pupils enrolled in primary education in the same period. About one hundred and seventy thousand female students have enrolled in secondary education. Through the Erasmus Mundus programme of academic exchange and research, more than one thousand five hundred students across Africa have received scholarships for joint Master Degrees. Another three thousand students and seven hundred and fifty academic staff studied abroad in the framework of exchange programmes financed under the Erasmus Mundus. The EU’s seventh programme for research has ensured that within this period over six hundred research projects from forty five African countries benefit from funding. In health, energy, democracy and human rights, EU funding has positively affected Africans. EU financial assistance to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization has helped achieve improved access to health in Africa.
Prosperity and PeaceInvesting in prosperity and peace is another framework of cooperation between the EU and Africa. The Partnership has made both continents to seize opportunities of creating jobs through trade and investments. Between 2007 and 2012, EU trade imports from Africa increased by 46%. Thirty four per cent of total African imports and forty per cent of exports are with the European Union. In 2012 thirty seven per cent of Africa trade was with the EU. Between 2007 and 2013, Europe remains Africa’s biggest development partner. Close to one hundred and forty one billion Euros were disbursed between 2007 and 2013 by EU and its member States in aid to support African development.>>>