The Rwandan Government and the European Union (EU) delegation on Tuesday held a political dialogue to discuss and foster cooperation in different spheres of development that are of priority to the two parties.
The Article 8 dialogue is a regular political discussion between Rwanda and the EU, as a development partner, whose main objective is to exchange information, foster mutual understanding, and to facilitate the establishment of agreed priorities and shared agendas.
The dialogue, which took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, was co-chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta and Head of the EU Delegation to Rwanda, Amb. Nicola Bellomo, with their respective delegations present.
Dr. Biruta said that the annual dialogue, which last convened in February 2019, could not take place for nearly three years now due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Since our last dialogue in 2019, significant changes have taken place around the world, but the collaboration between Rwanda and the EU has remained strong, especially with this pandemic and the need to work together to overcome it,”
“We appreciate the support received from the EU since the beginning of this pandemic including vaccine donations but also the strong contribution from the EU towards Rwanda’s efforts to produce vaccines locally,” Dr. Biruta said
He pointed out that at the national level, the country is in the process to start implementing a new EU country strategy which is aligned with Rwanda’s Vision 2050 and the NST1.
“We are looking forward to continue working closely with Team Europe on key priority areas including education, skills and jobs for the youth; a green deal for inclusive development, with a focus on agriculture and urbanization, as well as political and economic governance, including support for private sector development,” Dr. Biruta said.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that at the continental level, Rwanda hosted the 2nd AU-EU Ministerial meeting last year in October, where key topics were discussed, setting the pace for the next AU-EU Summit in Brussels.
Some of the key areas include investment in people, strengthening resilience, peace, security and governance of our countries, migration and mobility, and investments for African structural sustainable transformation, among others.
In his opening remarks, Amb. Bellomo reiterated the EU’s appreciation of the Government and the people of Rwanda for their commitment in the fight against the pandemic, adding that the EU will continue to support Rwanda towards full recovery.
“Article 8 dialogue is an opportunity to discuss with our partners, take stock of the partnership, to discuss frankly on all the elements in the relation and chart the way forward on our future cooperation,” the EU envoy said.
“We to strongly commend the Government and the people of Rwanda for the early, effective and prompt response to both the sanitary and health component, but also, the economic impact of the pandemic,” Amb. Bellomo said.
He said that from the onset, the EU advocated and promoted a coordinated global response against Covid-19, that does not discriminate between people and nations since the pandemic knows no borders.
“We have developed and implemented a comprehensive strategy addressing the humanitarian, the health socio-economic consequences of the crisis to address, both short-term needs as well as longer-term structural impact on societies and economies as reflected by our agenda,” he added.
In a statement, the EU said the dialogue was frank and constructive and offered both sides the opportunity to discuss in detail issues of mutual concern and perspectives for addressing these matters in the context of the EU-Rwandan partnership.
“Both sides took stock of the full width and breadth of their relationship and discussed a broad range of domestic and international issues, ranging from Covid response, economic development, governance and fundamental freedoms, reconciliation to regional and continental relationships, including the perspectives for further EU-Rwanda cooperation,”
The meeting also presented the opportunity for the EU to announce the formal adoption of its 2021-27 country strategy and multi-annual indicative programme for Rwanda, with an initial allocation of €260 million for 4 years until 2024.
Cooperation will be focused on the areas of Education, Skills and Jobs for Youth, the Green deal for development and Political and Economic Governance.
The political dialogue was attended by the Ministers of Health, Finance and Economic Planning, Justice, National Unity and Civic Engagement, Trade and Industry, the CEO of RDB, the CEO of RGB, the DG of the Rwanda FDA, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Defence.
On the EU side participated the Ambassadors of Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Netherlands, Slovakia and Sweden.