Europe Day in Kenya - Speech by Ambassador Geiger

Ambassador Geiger held a reception at the EU Residence on 9 May 2022. Here is the speech she delivered on the occasion.

Your Excellencies, Honourable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: Welcome to the EU Residence for Europe Day! I welcome you wholeheartedly on behalf of the European Union Delegation to Kenya, the European Investment Bank, the EU’s regional humanitarian office and, of course, on behalf of the Ambassadors and Embassies of the EU Member States in Kenya! This is our first physical Europe Day celebration since the outbreak of COVID-19 and my first Europe Day celebration in Kenya.


We are very honoured to be joined today by our Chief Guest, His Excellency, Simon Chelugui, Cabinet Secretary for Labour and his Excellency, Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, as well as distinguished representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other Ministries of the Government of Kenya. We also welcome representatives of the UN, other diplomatic missions, the private sector, Kenyan media and civil society, and many more. Thank you all, Friends of Europe, for being here to celebrate the birthday of the European Union.


Today, 72 years ago, on 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman, the then French Foreign Minister presented the Schuman declaration, which proposed to pool coal and steel production of France and Germany, building on joint, shared economic interest to overcome the devastation of WWII and to make war between the two historic rivals France and Germany virtually impossible in the future.  This led to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, which over the years evolved into the European Union that we know today with its 27 MS. The courageous vision of our founding fathers Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet and others, who had suffered personally from the terrible scourge of war, brought lasting peace, prosperity and solidarity to Europe.


Here in Kenya, this is a special Europe Day for us, as it is the first 9 May after the decision to upgrade our longstanding relations with Kenya through the establishment of an EU-Kenya Strategic Dialogue in June last year by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and the President of the European Council Charles Michel. We are very happy that in January this year we launched our first Strategic Dialogue by Her Excellency Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo and the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell.


This Strategic Dialogue will frame all aspects of our relations between Kenya and the EU and its Member States, or Team Europe, as we call it. We want to be a strong partner to Kenya by connecting the dots between politics, trade and investment, development cooperation, humanitarian aid, regional and security issues, and global issues.


The deepening and broadening of our ties is well exemplified by the recent establishment of an EU-Kenya labour dialogue under the guidance of our chief guest CS Chelugui. Kenya is the first Sub-Saharan country to benefit from such a labour dialogue with the EU, which also brings very concrete support in jointly defined key areas.


The Green Transition is a flagship priority of our collaboration with Kenya and we are mobilising Ksh 400 billion (EUR 3.2 billion) for Kenya in grants, loans and blending in 118 different projects implemented by the EU, our Member States and the European Investment Bank. This investment is framed under the Sustainable Development Cluster of the EU-Kenya Strategic Dialogue.


The drought situation in the North of Kenya is a stark reminder that mitigating climate change and ensuring a green transition of our economies must be a joint task and it is particularly the young generation who needs to carry this historic transformation forward. If you wish to find out more, tune in to our special online programme for Europe Day tonight from 6 p.m. on our online pages.


The impact of climate change in Kenya is particularly felt in dwindling biodiversity and wildlife, which is one of Kenya’s main asset to attract tourism. We are therefore very pleased that we joined forces with CS Balala and his capable team at the Ministry to fight wildlife trafficking and to promote global biodiversity governance. Thank you CS for joining us to celebrate Europe Day today!


Ladies and Gentlemen, the EU is Kenya’s largest trading partner and export market: the annual value of Kenya’s exports to the EU alone is around Ksh 100 billion – in other words just short of EUR 1 billion per year. And EU investments are responsible for the creation of more than 1.5 million jobs in Kenya. We are also working closely with our Kenyan partners to start implementing the Economic Partnership Agreement very soon.


A strong sign of our confidence in Kenya, and a huge recognition of Kenya’s role as economic engine in the region is that the European Investment Bank, the EIB, opened its first regional hub outside Europe here in Nairobi last November, serving  from here the entire East African region. The EIB’s engagement will inter alia contribute to spearhead the EU’s new Global Gateway initiative, focusing on connectivity investment.


Kenya attracts investors not least because it is built on democratic values and we want to continue working with the Government of Kenya to remove any obstacles to investment that still prevail.

The EU and its Member States are also Kenya’s biggest development and humanitarian partners. The new generation of development cooperation programmes will provide some EUR 500 million, fully aligned with Kenya’s and the EU’s priorities, from Green Transition over Governance, to Digitalisation and Social Inclusion.

We highly value Kenya’s democracy and rule of law and we will stand by Kenya’s side on its democratic path, together with other like-minded partners. At the invitation of the Government of Kenya we will deploy an EU Election Observer Mission for the upcoming national elections. Through the Observer Mission we want to accompany and strengthen national efforts for transparent, credible and peaceful elections. In this way we wish to contribute to further enhance Kenya’s democratic credentials and continued progress on good governance.

The EU has and will continue to support peace efforts around the world, including in Africa and here in the region, in Somalia, in Sudan, and Ethiopia. We are aware of the fact there can be no development without peace. This is also why we need to work together to uphold multilateralism.

We appreciate Kenya’s role as a strong democracy in the Horn of Africa. Kenya is a democratic partner, where freedoms prevail and the rule of law is respected, where we can talk as like-minded partners. This includes issues such as peace and security, regional and multilateral matters. We greatly appreciate Kenya’s active role in the United Nations Security Council and its regional engagement in the Horn and beyond.


I cannot close without mentioning the sad fact that war has returned to Europe. I would like to express my solidarity with the people in the Ukraine, who are fighting off the Russian invasion, sacrificing their lives for their sovereignty and for freedom from Russian dictatorship and oppression. The EU has as its core philosophy to build peace in the world, as  mandated in Article 2 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.


This is also the peace we wish for Ukraine and its citizens, to be free from Russian aggression and domination. But peace cannot come at any cost, and at the price of the oppression of 45 million people in Ukraine. Diplomatic efforts must prevail, putting an end to the unspeakable horror and gross human rights violations we are seeing in Ukraine.

Peace and security around the world, but also in Africa, is a goal we share  as global community. Kenya is an important partner in this endeavour.

We are confident that the new EU-Kenya Strategic Dialogue provides the vehicle to broaden and deepen the relationship between Kenya and the EU, facing up to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

 Finally, I would like to propose a toast to the good health of His Excellency President Kenyatta and to peace and to democratic freedom around the globe.