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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Civil society and the Joint EU-Africa strategy: perspectives from the closing session

In the final panel of the conference, the key messages and requests that emerged from the two-day discussions were presented by civil society representatives to political leaders of European and African institutions.

Joseph Ssuuna - PLENUM Association
'This conference has been a great opportunity for people to start talking in order to change things, on the basis of trust and mutual respect. We need to rethink institutions for civil society participation, creating more mechanisms to allow this. Moreover, we need to create a stable platform for dialogue between the two continents, engaging with other stakeholders in Africa. At the same time, we ask Europe to change its way of dealing and working with Africa'.

Prof. Dr. h.c. Christa Randzio-Plath - VENRO
'European development cooperation needs to forget its paternalistic approach, negotiating with Africa on equal footing and delivering on the commitments undertaken'.

Roselynn Musa - FEMNET, on behalf of the Accra Steering Committee
'We need to move from consultation to involvement. The strategy must be owned in order to be endorsed. In this sense, the process this Joint Strategy has been developing leaves lot of questions open'.

Thomas Albert - Federal Ministry for Development, Germany
'The EU's attitude is changing. Europe, in terms of Commission and Member States is recognizing that aid as such is not the answer. At the same time, we need to free African internal forces and investing in its own initiatives. In this, Europe needs to assist, instead of pushing things. The German Presidency is moving in this direction. This is not business as usual'.

H.E. Mr. Mahamet Annadif - Ambassador of the African Union
'It is true: the German Presidency is doing a lot. There's a new spirit, a new vision that guides collaboration between the two continents: for the first time, Africa is seen as one single entity and the rules of the game are changing. We need to recognize the role of civil society, also in Africa, as an engine to move things forward'.

Prof. Dr. Joâo Gomes Carvinho
- Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Portugal
'Listening is always useful, so it is really important to be here today. I agree with the great majority of what has been said and I recognize that so far the dialogue with civil society has not been enough. In this sense, the Lisbon Summit is meant to create a new platform for political dialogue with Africa, putting on the table mutual commitments that go beyond the classic donor – recipient scheme. Lisbon is a milestone in a process that will assure permanent dialogue with civil society, so to integrate feedback and ideas in the political debate and into concrete policies. At the same time, the dialogue between civil society actors in Africa and Europe needs also to be permanent and structured'.

Klaus Rudischhauser - Director for General Affairs, DG Development
'The seminar was held to listen to CSOs. The process is not over, but it just started. The added value of this process lies in the new quality of the dialogue. For sure, the involvement of CSOs will stay, as we recognize its importance'.

Koen Vervaeke - Head of the Africa Task Force, Council Secretariat
'The overall objective of the Joint Strategy is to deliver better to Africa, improving the coherence between different cooperation instruments so to increase their effectiveness. Globalisation processes increase the interdepence between the two continents; we need Africa to become an actor of international relations. This process is already creating an added value at the moment that Europe and Africa sit together and discuss on an equal basis. The starting point for this is African ownership, with Europe supporting and creating African capacities'.

For more information, see europafrica.org and Euforic dossiers on Africa.

Story contributed by Pier Andrea Pirani.

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