In the margins of the 6th European Union - African Union summit on 17 and 18 February 2022, over 10,000 delegates from Europe, Africa and beyond participated in the first Africa-Europe Week together with 15,000 delegates in the 7th EU-Africa Business Forum (EABF). Hosted in a hybrid format in Brussels and virtually, during over 100 sessions, panel discussions and concerts, this new forum’s objective has been to strengthen cross-continent people-to-people relations, through providing a space for youth, civil society (CSO), cultural actors and the private sector to discuss the aspects of the Africa-Europe partnerships that matter most to them.
Results of the sessions during Africa-Europe Week and EABF culminated with outcomes of the youth, CSO and business discussions being presented to the 6th EU-AU Summit, running concurrently in Brussels. EU-AU Summit, running concurrently in Brussels.
In her opening address , President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, underlined the strong ties both continents share and aim to strengthen further: “We need new connections between Europe and Africa. Not just between our governments, but between the people of our continents. The private sector, civil society and young people will have a crucial role in our partnership, and for building a new growth model for Africa and Europe.”
During her keynote to the Youth Day of the Africa Europe Week, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen highlighted the importance of youth engagement in political discussions: “Young people are not only the future, but the present. That's why we're involving them today in the policies that will shape the world of tomorrow […] An EU-Africa Partnership is sustainable only with youth at its core. Youth must be involved in shaping it, and leaders must listen.”
Africa Europe Week and EABF concluded with the delivery of four outcomes documents from youth delegates, civil society organisations, local authorities and the EABF. These joint outcomes documents capture the views of participants which were presented to leaders during the EU-AU Summit.
Youth Track Outcomes:
Young people from across Africa, Europe, and the diaspora have come together to discuss their concerns, from youth empowerment to digital transformation and green transition, not forgetting education, health or culture. Key takeaways included the following:
- Young people should have a more active role in the Africa-EU Partnership and decision-making. For a more inclusive and representative partnership, AU and EU institutions need to meaningfully include young people. For that to happen, it is important to ensure meaningful youth participation, one that goes beyond consultations and that allocates concrete resources to youth mainstreaming in the Africa-EU Partnership. This will allow both continents to jointly accelerate human development, the green and digital transition as well as creating growth and jobs as common goals.
CSO Track Outcomes:
Within the framework of the Africa-Europe Week, African and European Civil Society and Local Authorities jointly organised a “CSO-LA Day” to discuss both continents’ future and the key priorities to address at the EU-AU Summit. The meaningful discussions led to key recommendations from both civil society and local authorities to be forwarded to African and European leaders ahead of the Summit. Recommendations are connected to the overall CSO/LA Forum theme - “Participatory and transparent governance: A people-centred approach” - and focused on priority areas that were discussed with stakeholders across Europe and Africa throughout the day, such as
- Food sovereignty and rural transformation,
- Decent work and informal sector in a digital world,
- Human development through health, education and social protection,
- Quality inclusive education at all levels,
- Equitable green partnership and Governance, peace and security.
- “Delivering on the AU-EU partnership : local government’s role”
- “How are urban environment challenges considered in the green transition and recovery”
EU-Africa Business Forum
Co-organised by the European Commission, the African Union Commission, as well as EU and African business organisations and key institutions, the EABF brought together business and political leaders from both continents to increase opportunities for sustainable economic partnerships. More than 15,000 participants attended 30 high-level panels, over 200 online events, 300 online booths, and built networks across the continents. Discussions revolved around the theme “Building stronger value chains for sustainable growth and decent jobs”.
The EABF was the culmination of months of preparatory discussions between business representatives and public sector stakeholders from the EU and Africa that prepared the event, assisted by 12 thematic working groups. The members of each of these working groups drafted valuable proposals for their respective areas. The result is the EABF Joint Declaration of the Business Organisations that includes specific business outcomes to be implemented by business partners and calls for action for the public sector to consider. This business declaration calls for more innovative financing mechanisms for the private sector to enable sustainable projects, promotion of free trade tools, and a closer EU-Africa economic partnership. It will be transmitted to political leaders in the Africa Week “Meet the Leaders” session, and through the AU-EU Summit directly.
Culture and Concluding the Africa-Europe Week
During the week, a range of cultural fixtures accompanied the youth, CSO and LA, and EABF tracks. Culture is paramount to the Africa-Europe Partnership. To reflect this, the Africa-Europe Week closed with the concert of MAISHA, a unique Afro-European musical collective that unites 12 talented and acknowledged artists from both continents, a stellar illustration of the people-to-people ties both Africa and Europe share.
- Publication date
- 17 February 2022
- Directorate-General for International Partnerships