He asked me to thank the authorities of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, and especially the People's Congress, for organising this meeting. Three years after the Lisbon Summit and its parliamentary pre-summit, it is essential for the Pan African and European Parliaments to draw first conclusions of their past experience of monitoring the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. Thanks to that exercise we will be able to deliver a clear and documented message to the Heads of State and Government.
Indeed since 2007, the two Parliaments have been following closely the implementation of the First Action Plan. Thanks to the two Commissions and the two Councils, Parliaments are playing a crucial role. Of course, that could and should be improved, I will come back later to that point, but we can be satisfied of what we have achieved in less than three years.
Our President, Mr Buzek, regrets not to be able to join us today. Unfortunately he had to stay in Europe where, as you may know, negotiations are still going on for the adoption of the 2011 EU budget. The discussions are extremely tense this year. Reasons have to be found in the budgetary restrictions that all EU Member States are facing as a consequence of the 2008 financial crisis. Priorities have to be chosen and it is the responsibility of governments and Parliaments to agree on them.
To what extent can we reduce public spending without hampering growth? Which investments are essential? All these questions are not only European or "developed world" issues. They relate to the fundamental matter of what drives development. What political choices, often courageous and sometimes unpopular, have to be made to take countries out of poverty?
At the same time we have learned that the solution cannot only be national. Any policy at country level can be limited by the effects of globalisation.
The Joint Africa-EU Strategy was adopted only three years ago and, still, many things have changed since. Globalisation was of course a reality in 2007. Yet various crises in 2008 have shown that any problem can have immediate negative effects all over the planet. Most countries in the world had to face the food crisis, the oil crisis or the financial and economic crises, sometimes all of them. It became also more urgent to act on climate change.
However all these crises proved, if needed, the true value of our partnership: a partnership of equals which should help us finding together solutions to global issues.
The food crisis should help refocusing policies on agriculture and food security. Agriculture was not enough at the core of national and development policies. We have left African agriculture underdeveloped when not abandoned, certainly to protect our own interests. The recent crisis has shown that food security was the basis of development. Moreover Africa has a huge agricultural potential to develop beyond subsistence agriculture.
The oil crisis confirmed that our Western way of development was not sustainable environmentally but also economically.
The financial crisis proved the limits of uncontrolled liberalism. When economy and finance are global, regulation and control should be global. This calls a reform of global governance and international financial institutions.
In this context, on the eve of the adoption of the Second Africa-EU Action Plan, we have to think clearly on what we can do better together.
Of course the world is more multilateral than ever, with new actors on the international scene, with shifting alliances from one issue to another. Nonetheless Europe and Africa should build on experience in a renewed partnership to draw lessons from the past and be able to design a new joint future.
The Joint Africa-EU Strategy goes beyond development, beyond development aid actually, that is its main novelty. Three years after its adoption this is reflected in the main theme of the Summit: Investment, economic growth and job creation. These are common concerns. Eradication of poverty should of course be the main concern of development countries. But how to do that means how to create wealth, how to redistribute it? And that question is also crucial in Europe. Unfortunately we do not have an obvious solution. It seems that the recent crisis proved that the role of the State was fundamental and that social protection was instrumental in preventing people from falling into poverty. These systems are under strain though because of budgetary restrictions. These are other issue about which we should think together.
I will not detail all the partnerships. We all know that some have better results than others. I will leave to my colleagues to come back on that. I would like to stress though that peace and stability as well as regional integration is an asset and often a prerequisite to growth and development. Europe has experienced that over the last sixty years.
As far as the second Action Plan is concerned, I think that all Parliamentarians here would agree that it should focus on concrete actions. I am also aware of the problem of financing. Very often it is highlighted that there is no EU budget line dedicated to the Strategy. This is true and should maybe be changed when the next EU Financial Perspectives are discussed. Nevertheless the Strategy is not a European instrument. All Member States, in Europe and in Africa, are part of it. Therefore they should also dedicate funds to the Strategy.
Finally I would like to come back on the role of the Parliaments. The Pan African and the European Parliaments are already full stakeholders of the Strategy. The Joint Africa-EU Strategy is not only a transcontinental instrument. Consequently the role of national parliaments should be enhanced.
As I told earlier, we are satisfied that the EP and the PAP are closely involved in the implementation of the Action Plan and its partnerships. That reflects the idea of the Strategy, which is not only between States but also between business world, civil society and citizens in a broad sense: a "people to people" partnership. Nevertheless I regret that too often Parliaments are mixed with civil society. This is not a critic against civil society, far from that, but parliaments belong to the institutional landscape of any State or regional organisations. Therefore we support the request of the Pan African Parliament to be more closely associated to the works of the other institutions of the African Union.
Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Present the speakers.
I thank you for your attention.