Originally Posted on News24
We all share the same grief and anxiety at a pandemic that is taking so many lives and generating so much pain. As President Cyril Ramaphosa reminded us, a collective response, solidarity and international cooperation is the only way forward.
As we commemorate the legacy of Nelson Mandela – it is more important than ever to share the values that are central to his legacy and beliefs.
In this spirit, Europe is actively teaming up with South Africa to fight against Covid-19, and to alleviate its social and economic consequences. The EU is proud to be South Africa’s primary trading and political partner, amplified by our wide ranging partnerships in science, research and education.
As Chair of the Africa Union, South Africa’s leadership reflects Mandela’s legacy, ensuring a collective response to protect and provide resources in the fight against Covid-19.
The EU has responded by coordinating our efforts with all our African partners and mobilising more than 20 billion euro (R380 billion) to support the most vulnerable African countries. Our support is focused on meeting the three immediate challenges of humanitarian response, sustainable strengthening of health systems and the mitigation of the economic and social impacts of the pandemic.
We have been working with South Africa and our African partners since early April, including at a time when Europe was facing the peak of the epidemic.
Both South Africa and the EU share an appreciation of the important role that the World Health Organisation plays today, both politically and financially. The European Union has also worked to strengthen vertical funds for health (Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, GAVI and UNITAID). Overall, the EU and its member states have made the largest contributions to global health organisations.
Beyond humanitarian assistance, and working closely with South Africa, we continue to build a lasting partnership with the African continent on health issues. The coronavirus requires a sustainable endeavor, not through stand-alone initiatives designed to grab media attention, but by supporting regional and international organisations to support the citizens of this continent.
We have worked hard to develop new and innovative ways to ensure the sustainable supply of health materials and equipment.
Europe promoted the “Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator” initiative, launched on 24 April in partnership with the WHO, to develop and support universal and equitable access to diagnostics, treatment and vaccines against Covid-19. Europe has helped to mobilise international donors in order to give substance to this initiative. It was also the European Union that presented a resolution which was unanimously adopted at the World Health Assembly on 19 May this year, calling, among other things, for equitable access to technologies, medicines and vaccines against Covid-19.
This demand for universal care and treatment is combined with a major effort to strengthen African medical research, to ensure that the African continent can take advantage of the recognised expertise and experience of its own researchers.
In South Africa, we Europeans are teaming up with local experts, NGOs and officials to establish strong and comprehensive support in this crisis. South Africa’s government has taken vigorous and courageous measures against the spread of the virus. All along the way, civil society has played a crucial role on the ground.
In the Rainbow nation, beyond the health response, we are making a concrete contribution to a sustainable economic recovery. South Africa and Europe share the same vision of a Just Transition, where the enhancement of natural and human capital is key to ensure sustainable, long term and inclusive prosperity. Towards this end, we support a variety of partners – local authorities, non-governmental organisations and the private sector, through public funds and European civil society and private companies. It is worth noting that more than 1 000 European companies create jobs and do business in South Africa.
We are particularly proud of the action of the joint South African/European private companies, which responded to the needs expressed by the South African authorities, at national and provincial levels. We are also grateful that, on top of helping their employees get through this crisis, they support the most vulnerable communities around their premises through different initiatives and donations from Gauteng to Western Cape, from Limpopo to KwaZulu-Natal.
Last week, our ministers and representatives met by video-conference to ensure the delivery of our joint initiatives. It is our wish to further strengthen our strategic partnership with South Africa. This year will see the 6th EU-AU Summit, which will take place in October, where we will actively contribute to our common fight against Covid-19, and strengthen the team spirit between Europe and Africa.
South Africa and Europe stand together to face the global challenges of our times. Our partnership reflects the spirit and values of Nelson Mandela following the commemoration of his birthday on Saturday.
Ambassador of the European Union Dr Riina Kionka, Ambassador of the Republic of Austria Dr. Johann Brieger, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium Didier Vanderhasselt, Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria Krassimir Stefanov, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia Ante Cicvaric, High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus Costas A. Papademas, Ambassador of the Czech Republic Pavel Rezác, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark Tobias E. Rehfeld, Ambassador of the Republic of Finland Marjaana Hypponen, Ambassador of the Republic of France Aurélien Lechevallier, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany Dr Martin Schäfer, Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic (Greece) Roussos Koundouros, Ambassador of the Republic of Hungary András László Király, Ambassador of Ireland Fionnuala Gilsenan, Ambassador of the Republic of Italy Paolo Cuculi, Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania Ms Inga Stankaite, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Han Peters, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Kanthak, Ambassador of the Republic of Portugal Manuel Carvalho, Ambassador of Romania Marius Boranescu, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic Monika Tomašovicová, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain Carlos Fernández-Arias Minuesa, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden Cecilia Julin.