The speech made by Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, on 18 February 2022.
We had a Summit, indeed, that was, I would say, packed and productive. It was a very good Summit. And we could see that, as Africa sets sail on the future, the European Union wants to be Africa’s partner of choice. This is basically the summary of this Summit. For this, indeed, we need a stronger partnership between us. What does it mean, concretely? It means remaining an economic partner you can trust. The European Union is the first trading partner and the first investor in Africa. And therefore, it is no coincidence that the first regional plan under our big investment strategy, Global Gateway, is the Africa-Europe plan, with more than EUR 150 billion of investment. And indeed, we have developed together very clear objectives we want to invest in. There is the big topic of the green transition, of course the renewables. I had several talks with partners, who immediately want to engage in the main topic of green hydrogen. There is transport networks, the connectivity within the continent is crucial for the Free Trade Area to function; digital connections, the satellite idea has been mentioned; but also sustainable agriculture; healthcare; and, most importantly, education. Now, what is important is: These priorities, we defined them together. And now, we want to work together on them, we want to deliver. And the first series of major projects have already been presented today.
The second point that is important for me is to emphasise that a stronger partnership means stepping up our joint fight against climate change. We want to see green partnerships, like the ones we have with South Africa or Morocco, flourish across the continent. Because climate action is the challenge of our generation. It has been a big topic during this Summit. And yet, there lie also great opportunities for the next generation, if we act now. Africa is rich, rich in renewable power, if you look at hydropower, solar power, wind power. And Africa is rich in nature, with a quarter of the world’s biodiversity – one quarter! So to end climate change, the world needs Africa. Yet, the transition to clean energy will be a process for economies that rely heavily on coal, be it in Africa or be it in Europe. But we are both determined. And I am very much looking forward to Egypt hosting COP27 this year.
And finally, from the health of our planet, to the health of our people. Europe is Africa’s number one partner in the fight against COVID-19. And we will do even more. We are on the right track to reach our goal to share at least 450 million vaccine doses by this summer. And indeed, together, we are building up mRNA manufacturing capacity across Africa. I will not go in detail because we have discussed that in the press conference this morning.
But important is that we had a very good, intense, constructive discussion on the question of TRIPS waiver and compulsory licencing. We share the same goal. We have different ways to reach that goal. There must be a bridge between those two ways. And therefore, we have decided that the two Commissions – the African Union Commission and the European Union Commission – will work together. We will organise a College-to-College meeting here in Brussels, in spring. And at that time, at the latest, we have to deliver a solution. This will be accompanied by the WTO, Director-General Ngozi. And therefore, I always like it when a task is clear and defined. The task is set for the two Commissions. The frame is clear, the goal is clear, we have to deliver.
So Europe wants to remain Africa’s first partner, a loyal partner. And we are moving – right now – from words to action.