Horn of Africa: Remarks on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP debate on the EU’s strategic relationship and partnership with the region


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Madam President, Honourable Members [of the European Parliament], 

This debate is a timely opportunity to discuss the Horn of Africa, also on behalf of the High Representative/Vice-President [Josep] Borrell.

Two years ago, this region was economically growing and politically rather stable.

Unfortunately, today, we cannot say the same. As your report rightly points out, the Horn of Africa  is a region of strategic importance where we also face competitors that do not share the same values nor interests. In the current geopolitical context, it adds to the difficulties. We must remain engaged, including on global challenges, such as the food crisis.

I will now focus on four countries that are currently high on the EU’s agenda.

With Kenya, we launched this year a strategic dialogue to deepen our relationship along three strands: security, sustainable development, trade and investment. 

The elections on the 9th of August were a crucial moment, and President [William] Ruto, whom the HR/VP met a few weeks ago, praised the work carried out by the EU’s Electoral Observation Mission. We were also pleased to hear the President’s determination to take our bilateral agenda forward and our teams are already working together in that regard. The European Parliament’s role will be essential. The conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement is a priority for the new President and we should do everything to deliver on this file.

In Somalia, the election of the President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud opens a new page. The HR/VP travelled to Mogadishu to encourage him to deliver on political, security and economic reforms. On security, we need to work together to allow the African Union’s mission to hand-over responsibilities to the Somali security forces. The EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) engagements in Somalia were a major topic of discussion. 

In Ethiopia, the resumption of hostilities in Northern Ethiopia after a five-months humanitarian truce, leave us very concerned. We have been clear in our key demands from the very beginning of the conflict. The EU has denounced a dramatic humanitarian situation and asked for humanitarian access. We have also been working with like-minded partners and encouraging all parties to immediately end  the fighting and engage in peace negotiations.  

We should keep up our efforts and intensify our response as need be,  while we continue our support to the Ethiopian people through special measures.

We must help to strengthen an African solution to this African crisis and prevent a further regionalisation of the conflict. We also welcome the Delegation of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who were in Addis last month to convey similar messages.

And very briefly, in Sudan, the country is locked in a political impasse. The recent initiatives by civilian forces offer a window of opportunity for the military and political forces to reach an agreement on the way forward. However, we cannot exclude a purely tactical support of the military leaders who pretend they will hand over power immediately if civilians find consensus.

The recent visit of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (EP AFET) MEPs to Khartoum was important to show that the democratic transition in Sudan remains high on the EU’s agenda.

I really look forward to our exchange.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-231131

Closing remarks 

Madam President, Honourable Members,

Thank you for this discussion and, once more, congratulations for the report. I found it very interesting and very important.

The Horn of Africa will remain high on the EU’s agenda. Cooperation with the African Union and other regional and sub-regional entities in preventing, managing and containing conflict is essential. So is our support to the people of the region, including to address the acute food security crisis.

Actually, I want to inform you that over the last weeks, we have redirected additional €146 million to East Africa [and the Great Lakes], to support them to face the food crisis. We are very much following the situation on the ground and I am happy that we were able to redirect some additional financial support to the region.

Regarding dependencies, as you know very well, we want to strengthen the resilience of the Horn of Africa. The way to do that is, for instance, by supporting their own vaccine production capacity, which we did during the COVID-19 crisis. And a similar approach is now on the agenda when it comes to food security. We want to support Africa’s capability to produce more food in Africa for Africa.

Cooperation with like-minded partners to counter the influence of actors who aim at destabilising the region is also crucial. Many of you actually referred to that. Africa, and especially the Horn of Africa, is a geopolitical hotspot. Everybody is there. That is why it is so important that we keep on engaging with the countries of the Horn of Africa, because my assessment is that, especially the citizens of the Horn of Africa, they very much value our cooperation and share our values.

And last, but not least, the engagement of Team Europe – with Member States and development financial institutions - will be key to strengthen EU political and economic ties with this region. The sooner it materialises, the better. We need to show our partners that we walk the talk, and that is why we are working on very specific and concrete projects on the ground.

Thank you very much.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-231132

Nabila Massrali
Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
+32 (0) 2 29 88093
+32 (0) 460 79 52 44
Jennifer Sánchez Da Silva
Press Officer for International Partnerships/Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
+32 (0) 229 58316