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In his opening speech, the Chairman of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Norbert Lammert, emphasised that the participation of parliaments is of particular importance in times of crisis. It has to be ensured that the need for rapid decisions and regulations does not lead to processes bypassing the parliaments. With a view to a deepened African-European partnership, he pointed out that although the demand for a strategic discussion was raised everywhere, the design often ended in empty allocations and empty phrases. The Parliamentary Conference was an important opportunity to initiate a corresponding discourse and to implement concrete ways of intensifying cooperation.
In March 2020, the EU laid the foundations for a new EU-Africa strategy. The German EU Council Presidency is treating the topic as one of its priorities. The summit between the EU and the African Union scheduled for the end of October, where the strategy was to be adopted, has meanwhile had to be postponed due to Corona.
In his keynote speech, David McAllister, Vice-President of the European People's Party (EPP) and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, spoke about the importance of the EU-Africa partnership within the framework of the German EU Presidency. He stressed that now that the Commission has published the relevant proposal, the time has come to include African voices and perspectives. This would then lay the foundation for a joint strategy. A central message of his speech was also the importance of the "Team Europe" approach for the European Union's joint ability to act and for the international perception of the EU as a strong partner - also or especially in times of crisis. Finally, he pointed to new opportunities which could be offered for economic policy cooperation between the two continents through the timely implementation of the African Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The following panel was composed of Volkmar Klein, spokesperson for development policy of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Hildegard Bentele, MEP, Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewewum, Nigerian parliamentarian, and Mkhuleko Hlengwa, South African MP. The four panellists discussed topics along the five main priorities of the EU-Africa Strategy, such as the opportunities for increased European investment, shared security challenges, the European Green Deal and the need to strengthen African voices in multilateral fora. In addition, it was reported how the Covid 19 pandemic has affected the daily life of parliament and how they dealt with the many challenges.
The event was a continuation of the African-European Parliamentarians' Conference initiated by KAS, which took place last year in Côte d'Ivoire and brought together parliamentarians from 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. Under the title "Mondays for Parliamentarians", European and African parliamentarians took part in two preparatory virtual workshops always on a Monday, which dealt, among other things, with overcoming the specific challenges African and European parliaments are facing due to the Corona pandemic. This series was concluded by the public event, which explicitly dealt with the EU-Africa Strategy.
During the conference, two studies by the Adenauer Foundation on the situation of parliaments in the Sahel region and in East Africa were also presented, which will be published shortly. The KAS is active in sub-Saharan Africa with a total of 18 offices. A particular focus of its work is on strengthening parliamentary work and party systems on the ground.