S&D Africa Week programme 13 to 15 October 2020

Tuesday 13 to Thursday 15 October  

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A strengthened partnership between Africa and the EU

Africa has been and will continue to be a priority for the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. For us, Africa is an equal partner in endeavours, aspirations and dreams to fight inequality so our actions must mirror this reality. The global pandemic of Covid-19 has magnified the scourge of inequality within Africa. Inequality and its consequences, compounded by the old challenges of extreme poverty, hunger and unemployment, are our main concerns. 

We continue to emphasise the need to further strengthen the partnership between Africa and the EU as part of the solution to these challenges. The new heights of Africa-EU relations are being put to the test, now more than ever before. The need to work together to deal with the global pandemic and its effect is imperative. The significance of the New Partnership is in part based on the capacity to pass this test.

The African economy is losing billions of dollars in the tourism and transport sector due to travel restrictions; small businesses are choking due to the unavailability of disposable income up to a level where the majority are unable to feed themselves; private enterprises are generally depressed and hundreds of millions have lost their jobs. Revenue collection has been impacted rendering most governments incapable of providing public goods, services and safety nets for vulnerable groups against a background of elastic social agenda, especially in the health sector in the fight against the pandemic.

Compounding this situation are the old unanswered challenges including the obligation to answer Africa’s population question which is expected to hit 2.5 billion by 2050, these will be predominantly young people. These challenges magnify the complexities around managing migration, tackling inequality and creating decent jobs. The partnership between Africa and the EU must go beyond shared responsibilities and ownership and address the weaknesses exposed by the global pandemic embracing the need to be inclusive, primarily ensuring Africa’s full contribution and participation in the global values chains.

We the Socialists and Democrats fight for sustainable development and inclusive economic growth that will leave no child, no woman and no man behind.  We want Europe, together with our African partners, to focus increasingly on political cooperation that is people-driven, addressing inequalities. We believe this will respond to the challenges of extreme poverty and unemployment and will contribute to making Africa a better and more sustainable place for its inhabitants to live. In our daily work in the European Parliament, we fight to reduce social inequalities, enhance good governance, and promote climate diplomacy, sustainable economic growth and the respect for human rights. We believe that the success of this renewed Africa-EU partnership can be key in finding solutions to common global challenges. There is no time to lose.

A more mature and contemporary Africa-EU partnership can help us address the global challenges we face in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Together, we can strengthen democracy and human rights, and foster sustainable economic and human development in our societies.

Good co-ordination of the EU's external policies is vital if we want to make the most of the global opportunities we are presented with and be a responsible actor on the international stage.

Empowering women and young people

Empowering women

Women’s rights are first and foremost human rights, but societies where women can expect justice and equal opportunities are also more successful. We believe therefore that empowering women is not only a matter of justice, but also essential for building successful societies.

We are working together with other international partners to empower African women, defend their rights and prevent violence and discrimination. We strive to ensure that the rights of women are respected, that access to education is available for all and that violence against women is eliminated – in law and in practice. The S&Ds also want to see the empowerment of women lead to greater participation in the political life of their communities.  

Young people

Empowering young people means investing in people by creating an environment where they can achieve their potential. Empowered and educated young people are vital for the future of their communities – and for the entire world. We believe that with co-ordinated action between African and European partners, young Africans can make the difference in tackling global, regional and local challenges. We are convinced that creating opportunities for young Africans is crucial: they have an enormous potential to shape their societies, foster democracy and the rule of law, promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as finding innovative solutions to the issues they face. We call for free high-quality education, investment in skills and improving employment opportunities.


Education is vital for building better futures and we have launched an initiative focused on supporting proper education for young generations missing out on schooling through conflicts and humanitarian crises. We are working together with the United Nations, other EU institutions, and civil-society organisations at a European and global level to create political support and solid financial backing for international projects in this field. Through our #Educa initiative, we want to offer future generations access to appropriate education in order to help them build more peaceful and responsible societies.
Find out more about #Educa and how we have raised the level of aid funding for education.

Sustainable Development Goals and climate action

Sustainable Development Goals and eradicating poverty

We believe that sustainable development and eradicating poverty must be global priorities. The Sustainable Development Goals agreed at the UN Summit in September 2015 set out an ambitious agenda, but there is still much to do.

We must work towards stronger development policies to build effective social protection systems and to provide universal access to all levels of education and health for the most vulnerable, creating more inclusive societies. This also means we need a sustainable approach to agriculture and resources promoting responsible energy use, universal access to drinking water and sanitation, and tackling climate change and unsustainable production and consumption. We are fighting for more international environmental co-operation, technological innovations and incentives for governments implementing progressive environmental policies.

The S&Ds are also committed to taking action on gender equality, especially when it comes to education and health.  Women can play a crucial role in fighting against discrimination and for development, for example on improving maternal health and reducing child mortality rates. The current humanitarian crisis at Europe's borders has also highlighted the need for a new global approach, combining the fight against forced migration and the promotion of regular migration as a development engine, for both countries of origin and destination.
Read our 10 pledges for solidarity and development.

The Paris agreement reached in December 2015 was a milestone in the international efforts to combat climate change. Yet, much more work is needed to help those who are already feeling the effects of these changes. Some African countries are particularly vulnerable and face the threat of famine, forced migration and even new conflicts.
The S&D Group is committed to improving the resilience of local populations and helping them prevent and reduce disaster risks – and to ensuring adequate resources are allocated. In the same vein, we wish to see Africa fulfilling its potential and becoming a world leader in the production and use of renewable and efficient energy that respects environmental standards.

Democracy and good governance

The S&Ds play a leading role in the European Parliament in supporting the people of Africa, addressing humanitarian and development needs, and promoting the values of democracy and good governance. At the beginning of the new millennium, the EU launched a new dialogue with Africa which aimed to build a strategic partnership with the continent. In recent years, the EU has also been active in responding to the Arab Spring in North Africa and to serious challenges in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa regions. Actions intended to address instability in these regions must form part of a broader strategy involving good governance, development, humanitarian action and, above all, restoring the rule of law. 

Fair trade and the fight against conflict minerals

Fair trade

Trade can support our development and humanitarian goals. We believe it can and should create economic growth to reduce poverty; help combat discrimination and improve the situation of women and children; strengthen respect for the environment and for social and safety standards; reinforce the rule of law, labour standards and human rights; involve trade unions and civil society; and boost regional integration.

Conflict minerals

The S&Ds continue to lead the battle for the traceability of the raw materials used in many everyday products, which are sometimes sourced in conflict zones, fuelling armed conflicts, slave labour and human-rights abuses. This has to change and we want to see mining become a source of economic development and benefits for local communities, rather than a dangerous activity responsible for driving people off their land, drawing innocent children into armed conflict and undermining development as a whole.

After a long campaign by the S&Ds, the European Parliament reached an agreement with the EU Council on 15 June 2016 for a new regulation. Despite strong Conservative opposition, the Socialists and Democrats secured a legally binding scheme to ensure traceability. The goal of the S&D Group is to ensure that regulating the use of conflict minerals is not some optional add on, but is mandatory.

This has struck a harsh blow to the criminal militias that, in many regions of the world – especially in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – massacre, abuse and rape women and children in order to exploit the mining of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold. European citizens must be able to have confidence that their tablet, mobile phone or PC is not made of minerals stained with innocent blood. We are fighting to end the trade in conflict minerals.

Field visits

Africa is a top priority for the S&Ds. This is why our MEPs have been on a series of fact-finding missions over recent years to meet with locals, experts and politicians on the ground.

Our MEPs have visited many different countries and regions, including Sierra Leone (February 2017), Kenya (February & December 2016), Ghana (December 2016), Gambia (September 2016), DRC (September 2016), Gabon (August 2016), Mali (July & September 2016), Namibia (June 2016), Ethiopia (April 2016), Botswana (April 2016) Uganda (February 2016) and Tanzania (October 2015). Aside from these S&D visits, our MEPs have also taken part in numerous European Parliament missions to act as international observers, helping to ensure elections are free and fair.

A key visit for us was in April 2015, when a delegation of S&D MEPs, led by President Gianni Pittella, visited the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to meet with the government and officials, the Sakharov Prize Laureate Dr Mukwege and civil-society and business representatives working on human rights, democracy and the fight against conflict minerals. The S&D Group has made violence against women and the banning of conflict minerals a top priority of its political action in the European Parliament. The aim of the mission was to better understand the reality on the ground and how the European Union can help local communities overcome 20 years of civil war.

In May 2017, S&D president Gianni Pittella led an S&D delegation to Nigeria and Guinea to get an overview of the political, security, social and economic situation in both countries – especially to better understand the causes of irregular migration and the solutions to stem the flow of young people leaving Africa illegally. The mission also fed into the S&D Group’s long-term strategy for Africa, addressing the biggest challenges facing both Africa and Europe: migration; the threat of terrorism and radicalisation; climate change; infectious diseases (post-Ebola) and epidemics; managing Africa's demographic boom; the need to consolidate democracy and build effective institutions; and making the best use of the continent's natural resources. The delegation held meetings with parliamentarians, governments, universities, non-governmental organisations and stakeholders, and also visited the Malkohi official and unofficial refugee camps in Yola, in north-east Nigeria, which hosts thousands of internally displaced people fleeing Boko Haram and famine.


Next on the playlist

Press releases

Press release
S&Ds: fair, equal and sustainable; this is the new EU-Africa Strategy we want and will fight for
Press release
The S&Ds in the European Parliament call for independent inquiry into assassination of Ambassador Attanasio in the DRC. The EU can make a difference with new rules on conflict minerals and due diligence
Press release
S&Ds: Thanks to the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, the EU says stop to unfair and anti-climate external competition

Related publications

Towards a new system of relations based on partnership: WITH AFRICA
Position paper
S&D Group Position Paper for a renewed Africa-EU Partnership
Position paper
Sustainable development agenda post-2015
Position paper
DEVE (Development) policy paper for development and humanitarian aid priorities 2014-2019