I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Bulgaria, Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia*; the countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro; as well as Ukraine align themselves with this declaration.
On the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of Africa Day the EU wishes to express to its African partners its most sincere sentiments of solidarity and its best wishes for further success on the road to peace and sustainable development for the entire continent. I wish to thank the African Union and the African Group at the UN for organizing this important celebration and inviting me to speak on behalf of the EU.
The European Union enjoys a rich and deep relationship with Africa, conducted in a spirit of equal partnership, is also based on strong historic and cultural ties; a shared commitment to democracy, the promotion of human rights, good governance and respect for the rule of law in international relations; on mutual respect and accountability; and on the principles set out in the European Unions founding treaties and the Constitutive Charter of the African Union.
The African-European relationship and cooperation covers virtually all areas of the global agenda, but of course places the sustainable development of Africa at its centre. The European Union welcomes the African-lead initiative namely the African Union and NEPAD, which set a strategy for Africas own development, recognizing the primary national responsibility, the need for good governance and the importance of regional cooperation. In this context, we welcome in particular the African Peer Review Mechanism represents a particularly valuable innovation in the promotion of better governance throughout the continent. We recognize the progress which has been made in the region in consolidating democratic principles, and we encourage our African partners to reinforce their efforts to strive for good governance, as well as respect for the rule of law and human rights. The European Union welcomes also the recent successful conclusion of the negotiations on the revision of the Cotonou Agreement between 78 ACP countries and 25 EU Member States.
The European Union recalls the substantial support, amounting to 3 billion annually, which it already accords to Sub-Saharan Africa within the framework of the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement and its partnership agreements with South Africa and the countries of North Africa. In addition to this assistance, member states of the European Union provide substantial support on a bilateral basis.
Increased ODA is urgently needed to achieve the MDGs. In the context of reaching the existing commitment to attain the internationally agreed ODA target of 0,7 % ODA/GNI, the EU notes with satisfaction that its Member States are on track to achieve the 0.39% target in 2006 for ODA volumes contained in the Barcelona commitments. The EU has set itself a new collective target of ODA of 0.56% of GNI in 2010. This additional effort on top of the commitments taken at the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey will result in 2010 in additional annual 20 billion euros of ODA. Four EU member states have already reached or went beyond an ODA of 0.7% of gross national income. The other member states that had joined the EU by 2002, have committed to reach the 0.7% target before or at the latest in 2015. The member states that have joined the EU after 2002, will strive to increase their ODA to 0.33% by 2015.
In terms of institution building, our own European experience illustrates the benefits and potential of gradual regional cooperation and integration. The EC is negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements with 4 sub-Saharan regional economic communities, whose main objectives are the deepening of regional economic integration in coherence with the AU treaty. Development of supply capacities, stable and transparent trade regimes, open regionalism are effectively important conditions to promote economic growth and thereby important factor for poverty reduction.
The European Union is strongly committed to contributing to full implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration in Africa, in all its aspects, and with particular emphasis on achieving Millennium development goals in Africa, most notably in the poorest countries and we are looking at the September Summit as a crucial opportunity for reform and enhanced efforts towards 2015.
The EU will increase its financial assistance for Sub-Saharan Africa and will provide collectively at least 50 % of the agreed increase of ODA resources to the continent while fully respecting individual Member States priorities in development assistance. All measures taken as regards policy coherence and quality of aid will be applicable to Sub-Saharan Africa as a priority.
The EU is working to reinforce our partnerships with Africa targeted at overcoming challenges such as: overcoming hunger; winning the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria; promoting gender equality and social integration, ensuring safe and adequate water supply; protecting the environment; developing sustainable energy; and supporting the provision of education.
The European Union will continue to work for Africa’s integration into the world economy. The EU remains fully committed to a universal, open, equitable, rules-based and non-discriminatory trading system and a successful Doha Development Round that fully realizes its development potential. In this context, the EU recalls the need for implementation of the LDC III commitment to duty-free and quota-free market access to all exports originating in LDCs, as already provided the EU by its Everything But Arms as well as by an increasing number of trading partners. The EU is committed to more and better trade related technical assistance and capacity building to help countries make use of the opportunities that trade liberalization offers.
The European Union applauds the new spirit of initiative and self-help evident within the continent of Africa and the impressive progress achieved in promoting regional integration and strengthening common institutions. The AU has made considerable progress and earned international respect as a credible and legitimate continental interlocutor for Africa. The European Union is firmly committed to developing its dialogue with the African Union, to establishing institutional linkages and to defining an operational agenda covering all areas, particularly peace and security. The timely holding of a Summit, as foreseen by the Cairo Declaration, remains an important objective of the EU-Africa dialogue.
Last year, we welcomed the creation within the African Union of a Peace and Security Council. The AU has decisively assumed responsibility and leadership in dealing with some of the many armed conflicts that for so long have marred the African continent; its efforts to stabilize the situation in Darfur are a recent manifestation of this strong determination.
In November 2004, the EU adopted an Action Plan for support to Peace and Security in Africa which identifies practical ways to support African organizations in building autonomous conflict prevention and management capacities. The European Union has been offering personnel and financial, as well as logistical, technical and political support for most African mediation and peace processes. In this context, the African Peace Facility, a 250 million development instrument serving the Continents peace and security agenda, has been developed by the EU at the request of the African Union and is fully operational since June 2004.
The European Union takes the opportunity of todays celebration of Africa Day to reaffirm our commitment to work with our African partners in supporting the building of a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Africa, an Africa capable of realizing its full potential and playing a full and proper role in the world.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilization and Association Process