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Reuniones interparlamentarias

EP-PAP IPM, 20 November 2020, Brussels (remote meeting)

On 20 November, the interparliamentary meeting between the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the European Parliament took place in a videoconference from Midrand and Brussels, to evaluate the strong points and shortcomings of the existing partnership.

Strengthening of partnership
Opening the discussion, President Sassoli warmly welcomed the strengthening of partnership between the EU and the AU and underlined "the importance of a close cooperation between our institution and the Pan-African Parliament". He recalled that "the Pan-African Parliament is very similar to what was the European Parliament in its early stage, and has the same big potential to develop in a genuine, fully-fledged super-national Parliament endowed with legislative powers", he said.

Fostering political dialogue
In a joint statement, co-chairs Acting President of the PAP Djamel Bourras and DPAP Chair Maria Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, reaffirmed the role of the PAP and the Parliament in fostering political dialogue between the EU and the AU. They highlighted that the relations between both continents should be consolidated by a people-focused partnership.
Moving beyond a donor/recipient relationship The Covid-19 pandemic is reshaping the global landscape. Its long-term consequences on international relations and development cooperation remains to a large extent unpredictable, but what appears clear is that there is a concrete risk of exacerbating the already negative trends of closing the borders and increasing societal fragmentation.
The new EU-Africa strategy proposal builds on the achieved results in the framework of the existing Joint Africa Europe Strategy (JAES) and reinforces the intention of both continents to move beyond a donor/recipient relationship towards long-term cooperation on jointly identified mutual and complementary interests.
It needs to focus on ecological transition, digital agenda, mobility, gender equality, as well as peace and security. There is a need to stand united to fight against these risks and to give a new impetus to relations between the EU and African Union, in view of commonly shared values such as human rights, democracy, solidarity, rule of law, peace and security, and justice.

EEAS and EC contribution to the debate
EEAS Managing Director for Africa, Koen Vervaeke, insisted that this is a crucial moment. The COVID economic impact is having devastating consequences in Africa and he pointed out the need for a recovery plan. He advocated for an open dialogue and called for easier access to financing from international institutions and a possible trade agreement.
The Head of Unit for relations with the African Union (AU) and the ACP group of states in the European Commission, Domenico Rosa, added the need to develop the private sector and a plan to make African economies more sustainable and resilient, ensuring structural changes to face possible forthcoming crises.

Other topics, all interrelated and connected, that were dealt with at the Inter parliamentary meeting were migration, gender equality and security.
Many speakers stressed that migration is a family-level livelihood strategy and investment process, enabling diversification of household economies. On returns and readmissions, migrants are often dissuaded to return by the lack of economic opportunities in their home countries, or due to armed conflicts, which are the reasons that pushed them to migrate in the first place.
Africa aims to have better control over migration and mobility. Commissioner on Social Affairs of the AU, Amira Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil, highlighted the importance of strengthening dialogue on migration and mobility, protecting the most vulnerable and ensuring they are not left behind. He underlined that we need to redefine the narrative around migration, and consider migrants as an opportunity and not as a threat.

Gender parity
Several speakers stressed the importance of a swift implementation of the Maputo Protocol, which aims to fight discrimination against women and the legal ban of female genital mutilation.
The Maputo Protocol also contains advanced instruments for the legal protection of adolescent girls from abuse and sexual harassment, the prohibition of forced marriage, and articulates women and girls' right to health.
Its value also lies in its explicit references to vulnerable and marginalized groups, including adolescents, widows, women with disabilities, poor women, migrant and refugee women. As Chair Soraya Rodríguez Ramos stated, we can't achieve development goals to end poverty if gender equality policies are not resolved. "It must be the inspiring principle that is transversally present in all policies", she added.

Peace and Security
While there have been some improvements to respond to insecurity, the continent is still far from silencing the guns and creating conditions for addressing drivers of conflict and violence.
State-based and non-state conflicts, as well as one-sided violence all, increased from 2013 to 2019. New arms trafficking routes and actors are emerging, exacerbated by Africa's porous border controls and limited capacities, which are currently overstretched due to the pandemic.

Recent achievements
In 2019, EU CSDP Missions were active in Libya, Mali, Niger, and Somalia, and a new civilian CSDP Mission was established in the Central African Republic to support the reform of the security forces.
Through the African Peace Facility, the EU has also supported AU peacekeeping troops in Somalia and ECOWAS troops in Gambia, as well as the Multinational Joint Task Force in Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria, the latter in the fight against Boko Haram.

The next AU - EU Summit is foreseen to take place on spring 2021. Its main goal will be to redefine a comprehensive cooperation strategy between the sides, equally shared and agreed by both of them.
A summary of Inter-parliamentary meetings held during the European Parliament's 8th term (2014-2019) can be found in the delegation's archives.