EU and African leaders urged to pursue 'ambitious reforms'

Miguel Ángel Martínez Martínez highlights the important role of the 'parliamentary dimension' for the EU and Africa during 'difficult' times. Gerald Callaghan reports.

By Gerald Callaghan

14 May 2014

Ahead of the EU-Africa summit, MEP Miguel Ángel Martínez Martínez called on the European and pan-African parliaments to take a more prominent role in bringing about "ambitious reforms". In the run-up to the fourth EU-Africa summit, members of the European and pan-African parliaments met to prepare their input to the discussions. Speaking at the opening of the summit, Europe's pan-African parliamentary delegate challenged leaders to respond to the "issues raised" in the joint parliamentary declaration.

Martínez Martínez acknowledged the current economic problems facing both continents, saying, "This summit comes at a time when both the EU and Africa are experiencing complex and difficult situations. The economic crisis hit us all with a particular strength with our two continents being victims of actual or potential conflicts while our citizen's feel growing concern about the future," he said. However, he pointed out that "difficult" circumstances made it "ever more necessary" for the respective parliamentarians to assume "primary responsibility" as the people's representatives. "It is essential that regular high-level dialogue, and ministerial level dialogue that has been lacking in recent years is strengthened," said the Socialist deputy. In regards macroeconomic governance, he urged EU and African leaders to address "critical issues such as taxation and financial and legal flows", while paying close attention to calls for the establishment of "rigorous and fair tax systems in Africa", as well as the "intensification of the struggle against tax evasion and corruption".

"[Parliamentarians] play an essential role in the transparent and democratic control of the executive"

Stressing that "much remains to be done" by the pan-African and European parliaments towards the realisation of the millennium development goals, he reiterated the declaration's call for "the implementation of ambitious reforms in the social security sector, for progress to end child marriages... as well as female genital mutilation". "Migration and the deep and various issues related to human rights, including minority discrimination causes are also addressed rigorously in the declaration," he said. However, he pointed out that it was not possible to "reach agreement" on discrimination based on sexual orientation because "European representatives requested firmer action in this matter".

Looking ahead, the Spanish deputy concluded that "this summit will respond to the issues raised in our declaration and thereby contribute to increased welfare of the peoples of Africa in spite of all the difficulties currently hitting the continent. Never stress enough the importance of the parliamentary dimension in this regard, to the extent that we members play an essential role in the transparent and democratic control of the executive, and the decisions taken on behalf of all the citizens of our two great continents."


EU and African leaders urged to pursue 'ambitious reforms'

EU-Africa trade

Africa accounted for around 15 per cent of EU value of imports and 13 per cent of exports in 2012. Of total crude oil imports from Africa of 139 million tonnes, Nigeria and Libya, with 43 million each, were the major sources. For EU exports of petroleum products, there was a reverse flow of refined oil products to Africa, amounting to some 28 million tonnes in 2012, almost two and a half times the 2005 figure making Africa the main destination for EU exports of refined petroleum products, overtaking the US.

Exports to Africa, in 2012 standing at 13 million tonnes, accounted for just under half of the total extra EU exports of 28 million. Apart from energy products (€24bn) and cereals (€13bn), machinery and vehicles, manufactured goods classified by material and chemicals were major export categories to Africa in 2012. All three categories recorded strong growth in 2012 to reach €54bn (machinery and vehicles), €23bn (manufactured goods) and €18bn (chemicals).

On the import side, energy products were by far the most important category, reaching €122bn in 2012. Food and live animals and manufactured goods classified by material (both €13bn) were the other main inflow components from Africa.


EU funding in Africa

Under the 10th European development fund 2008–2013 the EU has already committed around €12bn for African countries. According to OECD data, African countries received €25.3bn of official development aid (ODA) from the EU in 2011, which is more than half of the total amount of ODA being directed to Africa. The top 10 donors by share of aid to Africa include only European countries, topped by Ireland (with 81 per cent of its total aid to Africa) and followed by Belgium (77 per cent), Portugal (73 per cent) and France (63 per cent).

Source: European council and Eurostat


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