Thank you for the invitation to join you today.
To improve this partnership, Europeans and Africans need to understand each other better.
That is why dialogue like the one today is very important.
This is a place where different voices from either side can be heard, and factored into the thinking on the future of our relations.
This includes some important perspectives that are rarely considered, which, if I may, I will get to in a moment.
In Africa, we are engaging with Europe with a view toward taking the relationship to a higher level, and making sure it is adapted to the times we live in today.
For one thing, Africa has assets and capabilities to offer to the partnership, both human and material.
Let’s not ask what can be done for Africa.
The guiding question should be: What can Europe and Africa do together for mutual benefit, which neither can accomplish alone?
The reference point is the Africa-Europe Strategy approved at the joint summit in Abidjan in November 2017.
The goal is to have an instrument that structures the continent-to-continent relationship in four key areas: trade, peace and security, migration, and climate change.
This approach will bring clarity to the relationship, and importantly provide a framework for much-needed mutual accountability.
Agreeing on this framework should be the primary outcome of the next Africa-Europe Summit.
We aim to change the terms of engagement on trade and investment.
The African Continental Free Trade Area is now entering the implementation phase. This opens up new opportunities for more attractive cooperation with partners who are invested in Africa’s prosperity.
It is therefore important to ensure that the space to properly and fully implement the CFTA is respected.
We wish to negotiate the future trading rules on a continent-to-continent basis, not in a fragmented or haphazard manner.
On climate change, Africa has made multilateral commitments in the context of the Paris Agreement which cannot be put aside. Africa’s route to attaining the Paris Agreement objectives may differ from Europe’s, and that should not be seen as a problem.
We also want to take the relationship to the next level in terms of a common understanding of governance. The attitude of ‘adult supervision’ has to be left in the past.
Examples of right or wrong conduct can be found everywhere. We must avoid the temptation to reduce Africa to the lowest common denominator, with blanket judgments and generalisations.
There cannot be a mutually respectful partnership premised on the unspoken assumption that one party lacks values, or has defective values, while the other party is a fully-formed moral agent.
The complexity of politics, historical context, and public opinion in every country requires sensitive understanding, and a willingness to genuinely listen, learn, and adapt.
We are not talking about excusing wrongdoing or abusing the principle of sovereignty to evade responsibility. And there are some who do so.
It is about dialogue, respect, and a commitment to the more robust partnership which both Africa and Europe need in order to prevail over the challenges of the 21st century, together.
For Africa, Europe is a partner of choice, for many reasons. I believe that next year’s summit is the right time to demonstrate the readiness for change and progress on both sides.
We look forward to the new Africa-Europe Foundation, and this distinguished group of personalities, playing an important role in the process, including the business leaders who are involved.
I thank you so very much for your attention.