During a mission to Nigeria, S&D Group president Gianni Pittella and vice-chair of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Cecile Kyenge met with the Nigerian Authorities, local and international NGOs, and Civil Society Organisations. They also visited the internally displaced persons camp in Yola, North-East Nigeria that hosts over two thousand people displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.
Following the visit the S&D Group called for a renewed EU-Africa partnership able to boost development through investment, democracy, good governance, and education. The Group was disappointed that last week’s G7 summit did not effectively address African issues.
In a joint statement, S&D Group President Gianni Pittella and vice-chair of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Cecile Kyenge said:
“Anger and disappointment: that was the overwhelming feeling from the G7 meeting in Taormina last week from an African prospective. What we saw was a selfish and narrow vision that failed to recognise that investing in Africa is essential for the future of Europe and for all of us. Over 960 million people live in Sub-Saharan Africa today. In 20 years, this will double to over 1,565 billion. Young working-age people will jump from 278 million to 481 million. If these people do not have perspectives for a better livelihood or decent work in Africa they will look to Europe for these things.”
“Europe must step up its partnership with Africa for more practical cooperation on migration. It must address the root causes of irregular and forced migration so that young people do not have to risk their lives attempting to flee to Europe. If we do not do this, very soon Europe will have to deal with even greater levels of uncontrolled migration.
“A new partnership means that Africans should also have their share of responsibility. I have called on the Nigerian authorities to finalize the agreement on returns and readmission from Europe as well ensuring better control of their borders. On the other hand, the European Commission should put pressure on Member States to open legal and safe channels for migrants wanting to come to Europe, especially for students through education programmes such as Erasmus Mundus. We must also work together to counter people smuggling.
“On the economy, we need to radically change our approach and implement a mid to long term EU development plan for Africa. This must be focused on investment. The EU should reinforce instruments such as the European Development fund, EU Emergency Trust Fund, the Migration Compacts and the European External Investment Plan, for development, investment, democratic support and institutional capacity building.”
“Support for education, development, investment, fighting terrorism, ensuring democratic stability, providing humanitarian assistance is the way to ensure a positive future for both Africa and Europe. This is not about philanthropy. This is a rational calculation of interests. Whether we like it or not, the future of Europe is closely tied to that of Africa. The sooner we override the short-minded propaganda of the populists such as Le Pen, Salvini or Orban, the sooner we can guarantee a future of peace and stability for our children, both European and African.”