The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has visited Ethiopia.  This is her first trip outside the European Union (EU), after assuming the presidency in July 2019.  She has termed the trip as one that is symbolic.

Von der Leyen, met with the Chair of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

She highlighted the priorities for her tenure, as well as areas where she needs Africa’s collaboration.  “Digital pioneers and hubs are proliferating from South Africa to Tunisia, from Rwanda to Ethiopia, Young people are asking for more investment, better education, stronger infrastructure, we have been talking about that,” says  Von der Leyen.

The issue of fighting migrant smuggling and root causes of irregular migration was on the agenda.

“We have been speaking about the topic of migration too. Honestly, I don’t have all the answers to these challenges, but I’m convinced that together we can find answers together,” she expressed.

In 2017 the AU and the EU met and agreed to cooperate in investing in the youth through education and employment, promoting good governance, peace and security as well as trade and economic activities. The spokesperson of the AU Commission Chair Ebba Kalondo says the meeting with the newly elected president will ensure sustainability. “It is basically just to be able to carry on consolidate and make sure that the commitment made in Abidjan is then come to fruition with the new commission led by the new President.”

The EU is one of Africa’s biggest trading partners.

Von der Leyen also met Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.  The EU has offered Ethiopia $180 million package.  It will go towards supporting Ethiopia’s national electoral board to ensure transparency and accountability in the country’s 2020 general elections, job creation projects as well as supporting the implementation of the prime minister’s economic reforms plans.