EU summit opens in Brussels

EU-Africa Summit © European Union 2014 — in Belgium.
EU-Africa Summit © European Union 2014 — in Belgium.

The fourth European Union (EU)-Africa summit opened in Brussels yesterday with a call from the EU Commission President Manuel Barroso to Africa and Europe to strengthen and expand trade ties.

President Michael Sata was among other world leaders at the official opening ceremony of the fourth EU-Africa summit, which was held at the Justuis Lipsius Building, which houses the EU headquarters in Brussels.

The president was accompanied to the official opening of the summit by Foreign affairs Minister Harry Kalaba, Commerce Minister Robert Sichinga and Zambia’s Ambassador to Brussels Grace Kabwe.

Mr. Barroso said in his opening speech that the fact that the summit had attracted 54 African and 28 EU countries was evidence that the vision of the world was one of cooperation.

He said responsible leadership was fundamental for Africa to benefit from its great potential.

He said there was need to promote democracy, rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights.

Speaking at the same function, African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma   called on the EU to work with African countries in pushing forward industrialisation.

Dr. Dlamini-Zuma said the EU could assist Africa attain the Status of a free trade area, which Europe would ultimately benefit from.

And United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said empowerment of women, gender equality, food security, climate change and protection of human rights were some of the issues that needed urgent attention.

Mr. Ban said there was need to focus on the vital need to empower women and promote gender equality and ensure that the voices of the young people are heard.

“We must advance on peace on peace and security. We also face a crucial moment in our pursuit of economic and social development,” he said.

He urged Africa and the EU to stay true to universal values and not to succumb to opportunists who seek to divide societies and exploit fears for political gain.

 “Let us strive to protect the human rights and all migrants, regardless of status or circumstances,” Mr. Ban said.

The summit, which closes today, will take stock of relations between the European Union and Africa over the last three years and define future cooperation.

The EU-Africa common strategy developed during the second summit held in Lisbon in 2007 has developed a partnership that goes beyond development to areas and stakes of common interests.

 Previous summits were held in Cairo (2,000), Lisbon (2007), and Tripoli (2010).

In addition to a political declaration, the summit will adopt a document defining means of cooperation between the EU and Africa for the three coming years.