EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles and EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen have invited EU development ministers to discuss the new EU Strategy for Africa at an informal lunch in Brussels on 13 February. Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari will represent Finland at the meeting.
Africa is very high on the agenda of the European Commission, which was appointed last year, because the strategic, global, political and economic importance of the continent has increased in recent years. The Commission is currently preparing a comprehensive Strategy for Africa, which aims to take into account the parties' new priorities in the changed operating environment.
Finland considers that the EU must be a strong geopolitical player in Africa and should not abandon its role as Africa's most important partner. The political and economic relations with Africa must be strengthened, and there should be a genuine partnership of equals between the EU and the African continent.
"The EU Strategy for Africa is very topical. In line with the Government Programme, Finland is also preparing its own Africa strategy. The two strategies aim to strengthen an equal strategic partnership between the EU and Africa and to boost their political and trade relations," says Minister Skinnari.
Ministers will give guidance for further work and pave the way for a strategic debate on Africa between Heads of State or Government at the June European Council. All the above are preparing the next EU–Africa Summit scheduled for October.