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President Juncker at the African Union – European Union Summit

EU and African leaders committed to investing in youth for a sustainable future; Joint EU-AU-UN Task Force to improve the situation on the ground in Libya

The 5th African Union – European Union Summit took place on 29-30 November in Abidjan, under the overarching theme of Youth. The Summit brought together leaders from 55 African Union and 28 European Union Member States. 

The EU was represented by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the President of the Council of the EU Donald Tusk, joined by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy & Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, Vice-President responsible for the EU’s Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica. The African Union was represented by the President of the African Union Alpha Condé and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat.

In their political declaration the European and African leaders set out their joint commitment to invest in youth for a sustainable future. Concretely, they committed to focussing their work on mobilising investments for African structural and sustainable transformation; investing in people through education, science, technology and skills development; strengthening resilience, Peace, security and governance and managing mobility and migration.

President Juncker said: “We spoke a lot about young people during this summit. Already today, the majority of African citizens are under 25 years old, and by the middle of this century, one in four people on earth will be African. But this demographic dividend cannot deliver without smart investments. This is precisely why we are going to put our investments in education, in infrastructure, in peace and security, as well as in good governance – all of which will in turn inspire good business environments and create much needed jobs and growth.”

The situation of migrants in Libya was also discussed and a joint declaration was adopted. A first tangible outcome of cooperation between the European Union, the African Union and the United Nations was the agreement to put in place a joint European Union-African Union-United Nations Task Force to save and protect lives of migrants and refugees along the routes and in particular inside Libya, accelerating the assisted voluntary returns to countries of origin, and the resettlement of those in need of international protection.  For the thousands of people stranded in Libya and in detention camps elsewhere, the Task Force will make a real difference. It will speed up the voluntary return of people to their countries of origin – where the EU has already provided funding with the International Organization for Migration to help 13 000 people return home since January. 

This important step is a crucial addition to the work the EU is already doing with the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and with countries of origin, to dismantle trafficking and criminal networks, offer opportunities of development and stability to countries of origin and transit, and tackle the  root causes of migration.

With reference to the current situation in Libya President Juncker said: “This is an outrageous problem, which dates back to another century. […] So it is neither conceivable, nor acceptable for Europe to close its eyes to this tragedy, a daily tragedy for so many people – children, women, men – in Libya.”

European leaders presented, and African partners welcomed the EU’s innovative External Investment Plan, which will mobilise €44 billion of private investments for sustainable development and job creation. Special attention will be paid to enhancing entrepreneurship of women and young people. The newly launched Sustainable Business for Africa Platform will allow for structured dialogue with the European and African private sector.

Compliments of the European Commission