EU Africa Working Group begins four-day visit to Nigeria

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Members of the Council of European Union’s Africa Working Party (COAFR), have arrived in Abuja to begin a four-day working visit to the country.

The Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in a statement made available said during the visit taking place from 26-29 February 2024, the COAFR members will engage with Nigerian authorities, government agencies, civil society groups, regional and international organisations and private sector actors in Abuja and in Lagos.

“The Africa Working Party (COAFR) is mandated with the supervision and management of EU external policy towards the 46 countries of the sub-Saharan Africa, the African Union and other sub-regional organisations, including ECOWAS.

“The Africa Working Party (COAFR) is composed of representatives of all 27 EU Member States, chaired by a permanent member of the European External Action Service (EEAS), and assisted by representatives of the Commission and the General Secretariat of the Council. It works under the auspices of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), itself composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and/or development of the 27 Member States of the European Union,” the statement read.

While in Abuja, the visiting COAFR members will meet with key federal government ministries and agencies, starting from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the National Security Adviser, the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, among others.

“They will also have an interactive session with the ECOWAS Commission on regional developments and integration processes.

“In Lagos, the COAFR is expected to meet with the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Consuls General of EU Member States, and the leadership of the European Business Chamber (EuroCham) Nigeria. They will also visit several EU-funded projects in the state featuring digital and innovation, critical infrastructure and connectivity and migration. Deliberations during the meetings will centre on further boosting EU-Nigeria partnership,” the statement also read.

The EU added that the Africa Working Party’s (COAFR) visits to African countries aimed at promoting direct contact, mutual information exchange and feedback between the political and foreign policy organs of the European Union and their African counterparts.

“They play an important role on taking stock of state and non-state actors views, perspectives, aspirations and expectations regarding their partnership with the European Union, its closest neighbour and its sister continent. The team will commence a similar visit to the neighbouring Republic of Benin at the end of its current mission in Nigeria.

“This is the group’s first-ever working visit to Nigeria. In addition to the representatives of 17 EU Member States also officials from EU institutions, are expected to be in the team. This year’s working visit will be the eleventh visit of the COAFR to the African continent, and the third visit to West Africa – following earlier visits to Senegal and Burkina Faso (2015) and Ivory Coast and Ghana (2019).

“More than ever before, several top EU officials have visited Nigeria in recent years and months, underlining the importance the EU accords its partnership with the country. Last October, the EU’s Commissioner for International Partnership, Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, her counterpart for Energy, Ms. Kadri Simson, led other top officials to participate in the EU-Nigeria Strategic Dialogue Meeting held Abuja. The Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Ms Helena Konig, and the Managing Director, Africa at the EEAS, Ms. Rita Laranjinha, were also in the country shortly before then, following the visits in 2022 of European Commission’s Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager in February 2022, EU and Member States Maritime Security Coordinators in April 2022 and senior officials of the European Commission in charge of Energy and Home Affairs,” the EU stated.