The EU and ECOWAS have agreed to pursue and maintain common political engagement in supporting free, fair, credible and peaceful election in Nigeria and other West African countries.
Mr Hubert Fuchs, the Chair of the Council of the European Union Representative said this on Friday in Abuja at a joint news conference on EU and ECOWAS political dialogue meeting.
“We have agreed that on the regional security, there is need for even greater coordination in the Sahel and to strengthen our common work in the Gulf of Guinea.
“On trade and economy, we agreed on the need to take our partnership even further, since we understand the need for more investment in West Africa,” he said.
He noted that the President of EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker launched in September the “Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable investment and jobs”.
According to him, the West Africa region is particularly fit to benefit from this alliance as it has resources including people and talent, dynamism and drive.
“This alliance also lends support to the effective implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU and regional grouping in Africa, including ECOWAS.
“Together they will help lay a firm basis for the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“The alliance, the EPA and ACFTA will provide opportunities to expand trade, encourage investment, diversify economies, promote industrialisation, and create jobs.
“We have exchanged ideas as well on challenges and opportunities over population growth, job creation, migration and mobility. These phenomena need to be jointly managed, in mutual interest and in a balanced way,” he said.
Speaking on the issue of irregular migration the envoy said that there was the need for the two regions to find a common and constructive solution to it.
“The EU is not fortress, but it cannot be border-less either. So on irregular migration in particular, I wish to stress that this matter is of such high political importance in Europe.
“And, that we look to our partners in West Africa to find common and constructive and mutually beneficial ways forward. We aim to do this through solidarity, partnership and shared responsibility,” he said
He said the two regions had fruitful and constructive discussion around cooperation covering all areas include political, economic, trade, development, humanitarian and security.
“It shows the depth of our cooperation and highlights how the interest of Europe and West Africa closely linked. We have reviewed our work together and outlined key actions for the future,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Mustapha Sulaiman, earlier said the meeting had discussed various areas of cooperation between the EU and the ECOWAS.
“It has been a fruitful discussion ranging from security to economic cooperation that will enhance both regions; essentially areas of concern have been raised and assurances and commitment have also been given in all those areas.
“We have discussed elections and political situation in some of ECOWAS countries. We have also isolated some challenges and proffered some solutions that both EU and ECOWAS would pursue toward the resolution of political crisis in some of these countries,” he said.
Sulaiman said that the discussion had been on economic cooperation as they related to migration, job creation and economic programme and “these are all well taken in the various level of discussions.
“EU and ECOWAS will also pursue all these elements that we have established in all these discussions. We are quite happy with the discussion and the support and the commitment the EU had given in this strategic regional partnership and all other areas that we need to tidy up and make recommendation to the authority,” he said. With reports by NAN