Media remarks by President JG Zuma at the conclusion of the SA-EU Summit
18 September 2012
Thank you very much Presidents Van Rompuy (President of the EU Council) and Barroso (President of the European Commission).
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased with the outcomes of the discussions today, as they reflect the growth and depth of the Strategic Partnership between South Africa and the European Union.
There are ongoing significant developments in South Africa, Africa, in the EU, and in the global context which have informed our discussions.
We have been able to assess the progress made since our previous meeting in South Africa.
On a bilateral level, we are extremely pleased with the extent of the deepening of the cooperation, focused on supporting South Africa’s transformational and developmental priorities.
For the past five years, we have established a solid technical framework, which has informed the developments of the sectoral programme that we have. These programmes include the very critical sectors of service delivery, such as Education and Health.
The success of the Science and Technology cooperation, now in its 15th year, highlights the depth of the cooperation.
The 30 million Euro Sector Budget Support for Innovation for Poverty Alleviation is highly commendable. In this regard, the EU continues to be South Africa’s main development partner and we look forward to this continued partnership.
The ongoing challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality that South Africa is dealing with, require such continued support from the EU.
To further strengthen the bilateral partnership, we believe that we have to enhance trade relations, and tap further the potential that still exists to cooperate in infrastructure development, especially energy and transport.
To support our economy, as government, we launched an infrastructure development plan.
We invite international partners for the major infrastructure programmes, including the development of infrastructure for water, rail, and electricity.
Other projects focus on health and basic education infrastructure, information and communication technologies and regional integration.
In addition, Africa’s successful bid to host the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, offers investment possibilities in the development of radio astronomy infrastructure.
We have invited the EU, its Member States, and the European Investment Bank, to partner with South Africa on this work, which aims to transform the country’s socio-economic landscape, and also facilitate regional economic integration and trade.
I would like to recognise the first meeting yesterday of the SA-EU Business Forum. This new dialogue area between business leaders from SA and the EU will coincide with future Summit meetings and play an important role in advising political leaders with respect to the full potential of SA-EU trade and investment links.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As noted by Presidents Van Rompuy and Barroso, our discussions today also focused on regional and global issues of mutual concern.
I expressed my concern that several key issues in the Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations remain unresolved.
This situation is unsustainable.
Although some progress was made during the negotiation round held during June 2012, a positive outcome to the negotiations is still very much dependent on the need to show more understanding and flexibility.
In this regard, we are highly appreciative of the recommendations by the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade, for a two year delay in the implementation of the proposed amendments to the EC Market Access Regulation 1528 of 2007, which would have negatively impacted on the ongoing negotiation.
We hope that the European Parliament will endorse the Committee’s recommendation when these are discussed at Plenary.
As part of the SADC EPA Group, we strongly believe that a mutually beneficial and developmental agreement is possible and reiterate our commitment to the finalisation of the negotiations to this end.
South Africa has consistently advocated for rules-based multilateral solutions to common challenges. That is the position we have also taken with regards to the inclusion of aviation in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme.
While we respect the EU’s right over its territory, we are also mindful of the unintended consequences on relations with other members of the international community.
I have indicated to Presidents Van Rompuy and Barroso that South Africa fully supports a multilateral resolution to this issue within the framework of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Our discussions also focused on the road to the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to be held in Doha and on the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference.
In addition, our discussions also focused on developments in Africa, the EU and the Middle East.
We expressed our desire to see a further strengthening in the implementation of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership, in view of the potential to deepen cooperation and trade.
The EU remains a valued partner for crisis prevention and post-conflict reconstruction and development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I strongly believe that the first five years of the Strategic Partnership have laid a solid foundation on which we can ambitiously work to deepen further the cooperation.
I thank Presidents Van Rompuy and Barroso again for their hospitality and the constructive meeting.
I thank you.