Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-10-24-Speech-3-340"

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"Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, we are discussing the report on the state of play of relations between the European Union and Africa. This sets out a shared vision on the part of Africa and Europe on future cooperation with a view to promoting development in Africa and combating poverty. The strategy must amount to more than just defending present policy. It is about a vision, based on shared values and principles, on mutual respect, that is geared to the well-being of people. It is good that the European Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament will get the opportunity at the summit to articulate the parliamentary view on the joint strategy. The delegations from the Pan-African Parliament and our Parliament met last week to prepare a joint declaration. I hope that our Presidents will be able to present this to the heads of government at the summit. Madam President, of course there is a great deal more to say on this but my time is up, I see, and so I will leave it at that, but not without first thanking my colleagues and the Commission for a very fruitful cooperation. Africa and Europe have a long shared history, but relations between them really have changed: it can no longer be one-way traffic. Now it is about an equal partnership to tackle together problems that are affecting both continents, such as security, trade, migration and climate change. The European Union produced a European strategy for Africa in 2005. I was also the rapporteur on that occasion. In our view that strategy had two important shortcomings. It was a strategy that was too much Africa, but involving Africa, and Parliament and civil society were not sufficiently involved in the development of this strategy. I am pleased that we are now talking about a Joint EU-Africa Strategy and that Parliament and civil society will be more involved this time. This cooperation augurs very well for the future. Madam President, this strategy should provide us with the structure and direction for joint action in the future. The fight against poverty and the Millennium Development Goals must continue to occupy centre stage. Although the most recent MDG figures permit a degree of optimism, in sub-Saharan Africa 41.1% of people still live on 1 dollar a day. This situation cannot be improved with development aid alone. It is also necessary to foster economic growth. The economic partnership agreements being negotiated at the moment could be a good instrument for this, provided – and I stress this point – they have sustainable development at their core and provided they are more than just European trade agreements. I would very much like to hear from the Commissioner about the situation regarding the possible postponement of the deadline of 1 January 2008. Madam President, African governments are, of course, primarily responsible for development in their own countries. They have become more independent, both politically and economically. African development is in full swing, not least through the emergence on the scene of new institutions, such as NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) and the African Peer Review Mechanism. It is a long time since Europe was the sole and exclusive partner for financial and political support. Other countries are beginning to exert their own influence in and on Africa in a very emphatic way: look at China, for example. We can no longer take our relationship with Africa for granted. Madam President, the report highlights three priority policy areas: peace and security, good governance, and economic growth and investment in people. As far as European policy areas are concerned, the report draws attention to the importance of greater coherence between development activities on the one hand and other policy areas on the other hand, such as trade, agriculture and migration. Only if Europe can make more coherent, better coordinated use of its support and improve its financial accounting can the development policy of the European Union become more effective and more efficient. Peace and security are a grave problem in Africa. The report emphasises the importance of an integrated approach to tackling conflict situations. The top priority in this area should be our responsibility to protect people and to make a contribution to preventing and resolving conflicts, as well as reconstruction. Obviously good governance, a functioning rule of law and stable democracy are conditions for stability and development. Capacity building in these areas is vitally important. We support the Commission’s ambitions in this area. Madam President, the second EU-Africa Summit is to take place in Lisbon in December after a gap of seven years. The Joint EU-Africa Strategy and the Action Plan will be decided on there. There is a great deal at stake and it is in all our interests that this summit is a success. Moreover, although the situation in Zimbabwe is a cause for very grave concern, we should remember that this is an EU-Africa summit and not an EU-Zimbabwe summit, that it is about a people-centred approach and not a president-centred partnership."@en1
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