- The European Commission will be setting up an action plan with its African partners to discuss ways to improve and strengthen transport links between the two continents on an ongoing basis.
The action plan has been announced today during the Euro-African Transport Forum that was held in the framework of the “TEN-T days” conference taking place in Naples on 21 and 22 October.
The Forum, which is attended by representatives of EU member states, the commission as well as those from African countries and regional organisations, is directly linked to the recent communication on “Partnership between the European Union and Africa Connecting. Africa and Europe: working towards strengthening transport cooperation”.
According to the statement released by the Commission today, the communication is a tool that aims to reinforce cooperation in this key sector by putting at the disposal of the African continent Europe's experience in this area and by launching a first thought in the view of developing a concrete action plan aiming at strengthening the interconnections between the EU an the African networks.
Further cooperation is expected to lead to increased trade, improved safety and security as well as a transport system that is better equipped to deal with the challenges of climate change, the Commission said.
European Commission Vice-President, Antonio Tajani, in charge of transport, said: "Africa has the potential to emerge as an important trade partner to the EU, but weak transport infrastructure and services are preventing economic development in the continent. An efficient transport system will be key to accelerating this process and our experience of the TEN-T can be of great use as we are faced with many of the same challenges such as fighting climate change and improving standards for safety and security. It is part of being a good neighbour to find solutions together."
On the other hand, Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union Commission, said "Africa has opened doors to various development partners to work together to find solutions to the implementation of its infrastructure programmes. The EU-Africa Infrastructure Partnership is one of the key partnerships that Africa expects to result in significant progress in infrastructure development in the continent. The EU-Africa Transport Forum would be a special opportunity to discuss strategies for realization of this objective."
He also said by improving Africa's infrastructure, in particular its transport networks will lead to better interconnected networks, adding that safer and more reliable transport services will definitely have an impact on living conditions as well as on economic growth of the entire continent.
He however also added that Africa is often not always in a position to cope with such challenges by itself.
“The EU-Africa Transport Forum will provide a platform for ongoing discussions on how to reinforce transport interconnections and strengthen the cooperation between our two continents, we are already working together with African countries, in particular on setting up a partnership on civil aviation,” also added Mr Tajani.
The results of the Forum's discussions and the identification of the priorities will be considered as the starting point of establishing a priority action plan and identifying the possible financial resources that could be allocated to that action plan by mid 2010.
The Naples conference is being organised by the Commission, the Italian Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, and the Swedish Presidency of the European Union. Apart from exploring ways to create more links with neighbouring regions, the conference will also take stock of the implementation of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) priority projects and reflect on future policy framework, the Commission explained.
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