• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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EU delegation begins 4-Day working visit to Nigeria

European Union

Members of the Council of European Union’s Africa Working Party (COAFR) have arrived in Abuja to embark on its first-ever four-day working visit to Nigeria.

The visit, scheduled from February 26 to 29, 2024, marks a pivotal moment in EU-Nigeria relations as COAFR representatives engage with various stakeholders across the country.

COAFR, tasked with overseeing EU external policy towards sub-Saharan Africa, the African Union, and other regional organisations, comprises representatives from all 27 EU member states.

Chaired by a permanent member of the European External Action Service (EEAS), according to a statement on Sunday by the European Union in Nigeria,
the party collaborates with the Commission and the General Secretariat of the Council under the auspices of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council (FAC).

In Abuja, COAFR delegates will hold meetings with key federal government ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the National Security Adviser, and the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning.

The statement further noted that interactive sessions with the ECOWAS Commission will provide insights into regional developments and integration processes.

In Lagos COAFR plans to engage with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Consuls General of EU Member States, and representatives of the European Business Chamber (EuroCham) Nigeria.

The delegation will also visit EU-funded projects, focusing on digital innovation, critical infrastructure, connectivity, and migration, reinforcing discussions on enhancing EU-Nigeria partnership.

According to the statement, this is the group’s first-ever working visit to Nigeria, noting that in addition to the representatives of 17 EU Member States also officials from EU institutions, are expected to be in the team.

This inaugural working visit to Nigeria underscores the EU’s commitment to fostering direct engagement and mutual understanding between EU and African counterparts. Following their Nigerian mission, COAFR will extend their efforts to the neighbouring Republic of Benin.

The presence of representatives from 17 EU member states and EU institutions underscores the significance of this visit. This year’s mission marks the eleventh visit of COAFR to the African continent and the third to West Africa, following previous visits to Senegal and Burkina Faso (2015) and Ivory Coast and Ghana (2019).

EU’s intensified engagement with Nigeria is evident through recent high-profile visits by top EU officials, highlighting the paramount importance of the EU-Nigeria partnership.

The statement recalled that Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnership, and her counterpart for Energy, Kadri Simson, led a delegation to the EU-Nigeria Strategic Dialogue Meeting in Abuja last October.

“Prior to their visit, Helena Konig, the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), and Rita Laranjinha, the Managing Director, of Africa at the EEAS, had also been in the country.

“This followed the visits in 2022 by Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s Executive Vice President in February, the EU and Member States Maritime Security Coordinators in April, and senior officials of the European Commission responsible for Energy and Home Affairs”, the statement reads.