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EU seeks agricultural cooperation with Africa

The 5th African Union (AU) - European Union (EU) summit, held in Abidjan on 29 and 30 November 2017, was an opportunity to further strengthen cooperation in agriculture between the two continents, focusing on youth and a sustainable future.

With an extraordinary demographic growth, Africa's population is expected to double by 2050 from 1.2 billion people to 2.4 billion. Today 60% of the population is under 25, and will only continue to expand. Therefore the necessity to create new decent jobs for this young African population is a key issue, with the International Monetary Fund estimating the need to create 18 million new jobs each year up to 2035.

Agriculture and the agri-food sector were key areas of discussion for the summit, with a crucial role to play in the creation of decent jobs, economic growth and sustainable development in Africa. The EU, an already strong partner in the agricultural sector, aims to reinforce this partnership through a mindset focused on trade, investments and business, rather than aid. The fundamental principle behind this renewed partnership is to promote "policy dialogue as a tool for development", which was central to the launch of the policy dialogue between the EU and the AU. This dialogue is aligned with the Malabo Declaration, adopted in 2014 by the African Union which aims at ending hunger and halving poverty by 2025, and with the climate policies adopted by countries in response to the Paris Agreement.

Ahead of this summit, under the leadership of European Commissioner Hogan and African Union Commissioner Sacko, the second AU - EU Agricultural Ministerial conference held in Rome on 2 July 2017 built up political engagement on a common vision around ensuring a sustainable management of natural resources, generating sustainable and inclusive growth, contributing to job creation in the agri-food sector and rural economy for African youth in order to address root causes of migration. This common vision was converted into a concrete outcome listing tangible and realistic deliverables which fed in the AU - EU summit discussions.

Furthermore, the adoption of the European External Investment Plan (EIP) in September 2017 opens up new opportunities for responsible investment in Africa. This innovative instrument aims to enable at least €44 billion of investment in Africa and the European neighbourhood by 2020. Under this plan, a specific window on 'Agriculture and agri-business' is being put in place.

At the summit, priorities discussed included the future of EU-Africa relations, especially as 2017 celebrates ten years since the adoption of the joint Africa-EU strategy, but also peace and security, governance, investment and trade, skills development and job creation. Agricultural cooperation between the two unions contributed significantly to these priorities.
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