EU chief in Ethiopia on her first visit outside Europe
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen kicked off her first trip outside the EU to Ethiopia on Saturday as she took up her post, where issues of migration and support for African security operations will be on the agenda.
The former German Defense Minister, who has been working since 1 December, landed Saturday morning in Addis Ababa. She immediately went to the headquarters of the African Union to meet the chairman of the AU commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said an AFP journalist .
She was scheduled to meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is scheduled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Tuesday. The two leaders are expected to discuss EU support for Ethiopia, which is preparing for a general election in May 2020.
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The EU is Africa’s largest trading partner, and its foremost source of investment and development assistance.
But the two blocs have struggled in recent years to limit the number of African migrants who have taken the road to Europe using the perilous maritime routes.
This week, at least 62 African migrants have died drowned off Mauritania trying to reach Europe, in the worst shipwreck in 2019 on the migration route along the Atlantic coast.
Reduce military aid
European and African leaders are determined to find solutions to the root causes of immigration, such as poverty.
The EU has also consistently been a strong supporter of peace and security operations initiated by the AU.
The Peace Support Facility for Africa established in 2004 has allocated 2.7 billion euros for peace and security operations on the continent for 14 African mandated interventions in 18 countries.
However, Europe has said it wants to stop paying African troops in places like Somalia, where the EU is the main financial partner of the AU force there, Amisom.
The AU, for its part, is struggling to obtain from its Member States the payment of a 0.2% tax on imports expected to ensure its financial independence, an initiative again supported by the EU.
After his meetings with MM. Faki and Abiy, Ms. von der Leyen, the first woman to lead the EU, is due to meet with the Ethiopian President, Sahle-Worke Zewde, who is also the first woman to hold the position.