OPINION | A shared vision between SA and Europe - EU Ambassadors to SA


Convergence in diversity is what we need more than ever between SA and Europe as we face the challenges of inequality and climate change, as we fight together for a fairer international order, the Ambassadors write for Business Day.

As European ambassadors we have learned to value the importance of the motto of the SA coat of arms: ǃke e꞉ ǀxarra ǁke, or “diverse people unite”.

Screenshot© Business Day

Convergence in diversity is what we need more than ever between SA and Europe as we face the challenges of inequality and climate change, as we fight together for a fairer international order. None of us can overcome these defining challenges of our time alone; we all stand to gain by coming together and learning from one another. The task at hand may look daunting, but the horizon holds the promise of a better, more inclusive and prosperous future.

SA and Europe share the same vision: to increase socioeconomic growth and make it more resilient against external shocks. Russia’s unjustified, unprovoked, illegal war of aggression against Ukraine is affecting us all and is felt in Africa especially when it comes to worsening food insecurity and rising energy prices. But we can count on the boundless potential of our communities, vibrant civil societies and the entrepreneurship of our businesses and private sector organisations. Furthermore, we have the tools to channel and steer all this energy through the strategic partnership between the EU and SA, the only partnership of this kind in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The partnership the EU and SA are forging, rooted in dialogue and multilateralism, brings concrete, inclusive and sustainable solutions. SA and Europe are working together to make international financial institutions more responsive to the financing needs of countries affected by global challenges, such as the debt crisis and climate finance. Addressing our vulnerabilities to global warming requires huge investment, and the summit for a new global financing pact, which concluded in Paris last June, has provided concrete solutions: 100 billion Dollars in special drawing rights (or equivalent contributions) have been reallocated to the most vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa. To boost quality infrastructure at least 150 billion Euros of investment will be provided by 2027 by the EU as part of the “Global Gateway” strategy across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The energy crisis is also at the top of our political agendas. Both in SA and in Europe our businesses, schools, hospitals and households are suffering the havoc created in the energy markets by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. In SA, many European businesses, development finance institutions, investors and research centres are actively contributing to supporting the energy transition, for instance by improving access to renewable energy. European capital, technology and know-how benefit local communities and provide business opportunities and employment, including through the Just Energy Transition Partnership, which comprises a total commitment of 8.5 billion Dollars, and beyond.

Innovation will be the fuel of socioeconomic growth for the next decades. We are setting the basis of co-operation on crucial areas such as domestic vaccine manufacturing or green hydrogen, which can revolutionise productivity in sectors such as steel or mining and generate new markets in demand for more jobs. A Team Europe Initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technology products in Africa with a budget of 1.1 billion Euros, was launched in 2021 to strengthen local production of vaccines on the African continent.

Our trade and investment agenda, estimated to be over 32 billion Dollars a year, has created more than 350,000 jobs in SA and represents a solid foundation to tap into the significant productivity potential in green technologies, manufacturing, energy, digital, automation and services. The numerous exchanges between our universities, research centres and students, through European programmes such as “Erasmus plus” and “Horizon Europe,” are also at the heart of this mutually beneficial partnership.

SA’s role in political mediation and peacekeeping in Africa is highly significant, whether in Mozambique, Ethiopia, or the Democratic Republic of Congo. Europe is also supporting African peace operations through the European Peace Facility, such as in Mozambique where the EU has deployed a training mission. Our recently launched dialogue on peace and security will ensure that our combined experience in conflict resolution and international mediation is more co-ordinated and effective.

This vision is driven by continuous political engagement. In February 2022 EU and AU leaders met for a summit in Brussels, which resulted in a joint declaration for a renewed partnership to build a common future, a partnership founded on joint values such as respect for sovereignty, mutual accountability and adherence to the international rules order. A partnership in which we address joint challenges such as pandemic recovery, inequality, food security and climate change.

In the first six months of 2023 alone, six European heads of state and government have visited SA, as well as a significant number of visits at ministerial level. And the trend is on the upward as we engage in areas of mutual interest that have the potential to propel our socioeconomic growth.

In a sophisticated, hi-tech and modern relationship such as the one we enjoy between SA and Europe, it is inevitable that disagreements will arise. This is normal when relations are so intertwined between two major powerhouses in the world stage. What is important is to move quickly to address them as partners, so they do not obscure our positive and constructive relationship.

Together, let us continue our common efforts to strengthen our partnership, with a view to contributing together to global peace, security and prosperity and to choosing dialogue, solidarity diversity and respect for the rule of law. Our partnership and co-operation will ensure that we create a better, sustainable and prosperous future, not only for our nations but the world as a whole.

Kramer is EU ambassador to SA. This article was co-authored by the ambassadors of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Romania to SA, as well as the chargé d’affaires of the embassy of Ireland.

c. Business Day

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