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"We Europeans want and need to strengthen our co-operation, at all levels, with Africa – a continent blessed with immense resources, especially its people", argued the president of the S&D Group, Gianni Pittella, during his speech at the conference on the future of Africa. This conference is taking place as part of the second Africa Week organised by the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament in Brussels, which will end on the 28 September.

"We want to find a new, balanced form of co-operation with Africa, which benefits democracy and development, and respects human rights. We are calling for a real and strengthened partnership with – and not just for – Africa.

"The launch of the new European External Investment Plan in Africa, which could make up to €44 billion of funding available, needs to be set to work to help create jobs for young people and support the activity of small and medium-sized businesses.

"We want to expand the Erasmus programme, not only to students, but also to young African entrepreneurs.

"We are in favour of opening up of legal routes for immigration. We must close the clandestine immigration channels that fuel human exploitation and slavery.

"Our destiny and our mission are closely linked and therefore we Europeans and Africans must work together in close co-operation."

*Africa Week 2017, organised by the S&D Group in the European Parliament with the theme of 'Youth and the future of Africa', focuses on the subjects of empowering women and young people, the opportunities and challenges of digitisation, the role of education and the promotion of entrepreneurship in particular.

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