President Barroso pays tribute to Mandela at the 6th South Africa-EU Summit
President Barroso on Thursday attended the 6th South Africa-EU Summit, which took place on Nelson Mandela's International Day. Together with the President of the Council Herman Van Rompuy, President Barroso paid tribute to Mandela's legacy by joining NGO Stop Hunger Now in Freedom Park in Pretoria distributing food for those in need.
At the margins of the Summit, the President joined a Mandela Day volunteer initiative organised by NGO Stop Hunger Now.
"We are extremely grateful to the fact that you have organised this Summit with the European Union precisely on Nelson Mandela's day. We see this as a gesture of friendship to the European Union. It is a privilege for us to be here today with you, sharing this moment. Madiba is much loved by the South African people as well as by the whole world. Through his words, deeds, through his vision and courage he rises above life and death and wins a place in the gallery of the great personalities of mankind. More than ever our thoughts are with him, his family and with all South Africans", the President said on Thursday in Pretoria.
The President again paid tribute to Mandela on Friday with a speech at the University of Cape Town and a visit to Robben Island.
The 6th South Africa-EU Summit provided an opportunity to strengthen the strategic relation between the EU and South Africa and to discuss job creation, economic growth investment and skills. "That's exactly what brought us here today: to engage each other frankly and under the same principles and values; principles of democracy, rule of law, inclusive development, peaceful resolution of conflicts and also support to the multilateral system", said the President.
Growth and employment are the top priorities for the South Africa-EU partnership. President Barroso called for a need to do more to tackle youth unemployment: "In Europe we can be more positive than one year ago on the economic recovery now underway. However we still have to do more to address the scourge of youth unemployment. South Africa is also working to promote growth and jobs, to diversify its economy and to ensure that its development is inclusive and leaves no one behind. We can both benefit from working more together to face these challenges".
The EU is South Africa's main trading partner, as well as its first foreign investor. The Commission hopes to conclude soon the Southern African Development Community – Economic Partnership Agreement (SADC-EPA). "Trade is a powerful engine to boost our economies and expanding foreign trade and investment, avoiding protectionism and creating a good business climate is vital for more jobs and prosperity", stressed President Barroso.
The leaders also discussed energy as a source of growth and signed the South Africa-EURATOM agreement of cooperation on nuclear safety issues.
A number of other key issues were addressed as well, in particular the South Africa-EU strategic partnership, key peace and security topics in Africa and beyond, but also global governance, climate change, trade, development issues. The relations between Africa and Europe as a whole, as set down in the joint Africa-EU strategy, were also discussed.
Finally on Friday, President Barroso met Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town. They discussed the situation in Europe and in South Africa and global issues, in particular the fight against poverty, human development and empowerment of women. President Barroso praised Archbishop Tutu's role in South Africa as a religious and civic authority. Archbishop Tutu thanked the EU for its action and role in promoting peace and development throughout the world.