Varadkar to attend EU-Africa summit to forge ‘common agenda’

Event in Ivory Coast not just about stemming migration, EU Foreign Affairs Council hears

EU special representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini. Photograph: Epa/Julien Warnand

EU special representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini. Photograph: Epa/Julien Warnand

 

The EU-Africa summit in Abidjan at the end of the month can open a vital new chapter in EU-Africa relations, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said. He confirmed that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar would be attending the Ivory Coast meeting.

Speaking to journalists at the meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council, Mr Coveney said Ireland would be working to ensure the summit, the first in four years, and the first with the African Union, would be the occasion for an important deepening of the union’s political engagement with Africa. He said he saw strong support for that view at Monday’s meeting.

The summit was not just about stemming migration, EU special representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini said, but about the EU helping to build capacity across the continent and the forging of a new relationship based on partnership and a common agenda, not simply aid.

The concerns shared by both the EU and Africa ranged from security challenges to climate change, to rapid population growth, food and water security, good governance, economic development, and above all job creation.  

“In Ethiopia an extra two million people are of working age each year,” Mr Coveney said. “In Kenya it’s an extra million. In Ethiopia, in one country alone, having to grow an economy to such an extent as to have to provide the entire working population of Ireland every year [with] extra jobs.

“That is impossible if other continents are not helping,” he said.

Arms embargo

The meeting also approved an arms embargo and limited sanction against Venezuela over the erosion of democratic rights there. Ms Mogherini said, however, that she hoped the prospect of meaningful talks and possible progress meant it might not be necessary to apply the sanctions.

 The meeting also expressed concern over developments in Lebanon. The ministers called on external powers not to interfere in the internal affairs of the country and expressed the hope that prime minister Rafiq Hariri would be able to return home and to office soon from Saudi Arabia.