Press Release

AWF Statement Regarding European Union Elections

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The European Union (EU) elections that just culminated are a significant event this year, with the second largest constituency having headed to the polls. Over 400 million citizens across 27 EU member states were participating in this crucial voting process that determines who the members of the EU parliament are for the next five years. The African Wildlife Foundation has a long-lasting relationship with the European Union spanning well over ten years with numerous projects across Africa; hence, we consider the EU as a key strategic partner that shares a mutual vision to mainstream conservation in development cooperation, reverse biodiversity loss and create climate resilience across the continent.

The EU's development budget is the second-largest globally, making these elections particularly important for recipient countries. The outcomes will significantly influence the direction of development cooperation and aid. Kaddu Sebunya, AWF CEO, however, emphasizes:

“This election presents a timely opportunity to articulate a partnership perspective grounded in a shared future and mutual dependency. As interconnected trade partners, Europe and Africa must navigate their interdependencies to foster robust and resilient partnerships. We are hopeful that the trust Africa has continued to build is elevated even further to achieve our collective goals.”

The EU remains Africa’s biggest trading and development partner. Europe's partnership with Africa is of immense importance, as illustrated by the Global Gateway initiative, an Africa-Europe Investment Package worth at least EUR 150 billion. This package aims to accelerate the green transition, boost the digital economy, promote sustainable growth and job creation, and enhance health and education systems. These investments align with the EU and AU’s shared ambition for 2030, guided by the AU Agenda 2063.

The newly elected members of the EU Parliament are anticipated to amend or oppose new legislative proposals such as the EU Green Deal, an ambitious set of laws to cut carbon emissions, still to be decided upon. This shift is expected to arise from increasing concerns over the socio-economic costs associated with the green transformation. However, there is a risk that this change in focus could delay essential climate actions due to shifting political priorities, including those at the domestic level.

With the European People’s Party (EPP) etching ahead, it is imperative to note their commitment to achieving the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 in their manifesto, but clarity on how to get there is still needed to make significant strides. Despite these challenges, AWF calls for sustained momentum to address the urgent climate and biodiversity crisis through a strengthened Africa-Europe partnership.

In the words of Ursula von der Leyen, who is seeking her second term as the European Union President, “We stand for pragmatic solutions, not ideological ones—because we at EPP know that there is no competitive economy without climate protection.”

Historically, we are at a moment reminiscent of the post-WWII era that sparked the Marshall Plan, where America and Europe collaborated to rebuild European economies and establish a liberal international order based on the rule of law. Europe has the potential to demonstrate similar leadership with Africa, treating us as an equal partner.

AWF applauds all members of the European Union for practicing their democratic rights in this instrumental election. With an always-shifting EU political landscape, we forecast a stronger relationship and partnership between the two neighboring continents.