European development days strengthening EU-Africa relationship

Written by Louis Michel on 2 June 2015 in Opinion
Opinion

Now seen as 'the Davos of development', the European development days are a chance to 'depart from bureaucracy', writes Louis Michel.

I launched the European development days in 2006 because I have faith both in Africa and in Europe. I strongly believe that our two continents are a community whose destiny is forged by shared history and a relationship of interdependency. 

Europe and Africa are natural allies. An indispensable alliance that is strong and sincere between these two large and beautiful continents can shape a peaceful and prosperous future. 

Together, we can decisively move towards a new, fairer world with greater solidarity and freedom. Eurafrica is not an empty concept, but a goal to be achieved in order to have a positive influence on the world.


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DevDays is now emerging as the main meeting held in Europe on development issues. Having already hosted 10,000 participants, this international forum for development is now seen as 'the Davos of development'. This year the forum carries all the more weight, as it is part of the European year for development.

The idea behind the launch of the development days was primarily to depart from bureaucracy, daily procedures and short-term thinking. The aim was also to move away from the closed world of institutions and institutional systems, to engage in deeper reflection - with everyone that matters - on the future of development, our values, our principles, our policies, the changing world and the actions that need to be undertaken.

It is this spirit of family that has always fascinated and continues to fascinate DevDays. It is this collective consciousness that brings people together who, on a daily basis, work to promote a more just world, a better world that enables each person to blossom. 

NGOs, public authorities, partners, civil society, government officials, field workers, politicians - together we have shaped a stronger, more solid, more ambitious common ideal based on one faith, one concept of man and humanity, one fervour of belief and one passion that unites us.

DevDays a place where everyone is listened to; where everyone has a voice: heads of state, ministers, academics, local authorities, the private sector, the media and more. 

It is a place for debate, a good flow of ideas, dialogue, reflection and proposals. The advantage is that all subjects can be addressed without taboo, including delicate topics, to the extent that any confrontation will be constructive and strategic. 

On a universal and human level, I believe that everyone is entitled to express their views. This constructive confrontation is a source of inspiration to find new ways that lead to strengthening development.

We "must dare to think about the world", as Jacques Attali says. We need a "political space of global dimensions". 

The world's growth is managed by weak institutions without regulatory power. No global decision may be taken to impose a course of action. There is no such thing as a "universal right". 

Learning from the global financial crisis, we must understand that building a planetary government must be part of continued commercial globalisation, by giving it a political dimension. 

A planetary government should propose, coordinate and steer with countries on global issues of development that cannot be handled at national level.

In a globalised world, Europe is probably Africa's most valued partner, and Africa is undoubtedly Europe's most promising. Together, Africans and Europeans are able to adapt globalisation to a model more consistent with the values they share, and more respectful of their identities. 

Sustainable growth will be a centrepiece of the debate on development post-2015.

As Nobel peace prize winner Desmond Tutu said at the development days, "my friendship is linked to yours. To be myself, I need you. I need you to be yourself". He added, "we can only be free together".

About the author

Louis Michel (ALDE, BE) is chair of parliament's ACP/EU parliamentary assembly

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