Vienna, Dec 18 (IANS) European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday urged Europe and Africa to intensify their cooperation.
“Europe needs Africa and Africa needs Europe,” Juncker said in a speech during the one-day High-Level Forum Africa-Europe in Vienna, called by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who is the chairman of African Union for 2018, and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria, which serves the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2018, Xinhua reported.
Juncker called for building a relationship on equal footing with joint responsibilities, arguing that previously there had been a “giver-taker” relationship, with Europe providing development aid.
In recent years, Juncker said, Europe-Africa relations had diminished somewhat, centring primarily around the migration crisis. For this reason the forum would not dwell on that issue, he added.
Juncker said the European Union (EU) must focus more on investment and trade, and do more to ensure that trade in Africa becomes “fairer and more sustainable.”
European firms need to be encouraged to build a stronger presence in Africa, said the president, who believed that a more business-friendly environment can be achieved.
The forum aims to provide a space for European and African leaders, together with CEOs of major global companies, innovation champions, start-ups and other stakeholders, to act on what needs to be done to secure prosperity and competitiveness on both continents, with a specific focus on innovation and digitalisation.