Chairperson of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat speaks during a briefing to the press, next to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen during her visit to the African Union in Addis Ababa, on December 7, 2019. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP) (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images)

22 European Commissioners Attend EU-AU meeting in Addis

ADDIS ABEBA – European Union Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell and 20 other European commissioners are attending the Commission-to-Commission meeting between the EU and African Union in Addis Abeba.

The discussions between the two sides focus on key issues such as growth, jobs, green transition, digital, peace, security and governance, and mobility and migration, says the African Union.

The latest meeting is taking place amid calls from observers for a fresh start for EU-Africa relations.

“The Union’s approach to Africa, our neighboring continent, has been lukewarm and hesitant, shaped by a development policy built on an obsolete donor-recipient mentality,” Tomas Tobé, a Swedish politician, said.

“A shift of thought is now needed,” he added.

The meeting is also seen as an opportunity for the EU side to consult its African partners on the upcoming comprehensive Africa Strategy which President von der Leyen promised to deliver in her first 100 days in office and is due to be presented in early March.

Before departing Brussels, President Leyen said the two continents “are natural partners”.

“We have a historic bond and we share many of today’s challenges. One of our main objectives is to turn the green and digital transformation of our economies into opportunities for our youth,” she said.

Regular Summits at the level of Heads of State or Government are held every three years to define the political priorities.

The last meeting took place in Brussels, Belgium, on 23 May 2018, and commissioners from the two sides adopted measures to address pressing global issues in what they call key areas such as peace and security, migration, job creation, and agriculture.

Similar subjects are now under discussion the commission-to-Commission meeting, currently ongoing in Addis Ababa, with a record number of participants attending from the EU side.

It is a testament of the priority relations which Africa represents for the new European Commission and its aspiration to take them to a new level, EU officials said.