EU-Africa Meeting announces €250 million “peace facility” for Africa
EU-Africa Meeting announces €250 million “peace facility” for Africa The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D. today led an EU delegation in discussions with the African Union. The African Union was represented by Mr. Leonard Simao, Foreign Minister of Mozambique, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, Foreign Minister of South Africa and Commissioner Djinnit of the African Union. The meeting took place in Farmleigh House. Other participants included the EU’s High Representative for CFSP, Javier Solana, EU Commissioner Poul Neilson, Minister of State Tom Kitt T.D. and the Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation, Agnes van Ardenne.
This meeting marked the start of a month-long engagement with Africa, as part of the Irish Presidency’s effort to push African issues up the agenda of the European Union. Minister Cowen said:
“Too often, discussion of Africa is sidelined. The EU is the largest donor of development assistance to Africa and we are Africa’s biggest trade partner. We are a hugely important partner for the countries of Africa, as they are for us.”
Minister Cowen announced the establishment of a €250million EU Peace Facility. This Peace Facility will be used to support African peace-keeping and to improve the institutional capacities of the African Union and sub-regional organizations in relation to peace-keeping and conflict prevention.
Ministers adopted a detailed joint report on the issue of Africa’s external debt burden and its impact on Africa’s development. This report was first called for by EU and African Heads of State and Government at their Summit in Cairo in April 2000. The report was finalised at a meeting of debt experts, co-chaired by Ireland and Nigeria, in Dublin in February 2004. This is the first ever report on this crucial issue to have been agreed by the two sides. Minister Cowen said:
“I particularly welcome the EU-Africa joint report on Africa’s external debt. Ireland has pushed hard for the completion of this report. As you know, Ireland has given debt a high priority in our national programme of development cooperation. The report is a valuable contribution to dealing with the debt issue which remains a key concern of our African partners.”
The two sides also discussed the development of Pan-African institutions. The African Union is, in some ways, replicating the institutions of the EU, with a Council of Ministers, Commission and Parliament. If strong institutions are in place, they are well-equipped to focus on crisis situations as they emerge.
Human rights and governance issues in Zimbabwe were raised by the EU.
Minister Cowen will lead an EU Troika meeting with South Africa tomorrow (2 April) and on Sunday 4 April will leave Dublin on a working visit to Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda and Burundi.