Thursday, 13 December 2007

Tough Talking in Lisbon: the EU-Africa Business Forum

This being the third meeting in the series (after Accra in July and Brussels in Nov last year), we knew what we wanted from this, which was just as well as it was in danger of being hijacked a few times.

In terms of politics at the event, Zimbabwe didn't really feature but there was plenty of heat over the EPAs with Senegalese delegates in particular apparently pre-armed with a "knocking brief" authorised from the top. EU Commissioner Louis Michel, having delivered a good and sincere pitch about all the things the EU was doing for Africa, would be justified in being a bit surprised by the slapping he received.

So, all things considered, it was not a bad outcome for a half-day programme - the short speech by Vincent Maphai of BHP Billiton to the Summit itself may have been a bit light of specific actions, but there are some quite solid platforms developing in the various working-groups which will carry us forward for next time, probably in Sept 08 in Paris under the French EU Presidency.