EU re-affirms commitment to continue supporting Sierra Leone

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As I said last year on the occasion of Europe Day, I can ensure you that the European Union will continue to stand with the Government, with the Opposition, with the Parliament, with the Electoral Management Bodies, with the Civil Society, with the Media, with the Human Rights and Gender Activists, with the People Living with Disabilities, with the women and men, young and old, with the people of Sierra Leone, Ambassador Manuel Müller,Eu Ambassador to Sierra Leone.

Ambassador Muller was on May 15 speaking at the occasion marking Europe Day held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown.

“Together, Team Europe has always been a reliable partner of Sierra Leone and remains committed to this partnership based on the universal values of the UN and supporting Sierra Leone’s pathway towards broad-based and robust economic growth, sustainable development and prosperity in line with Sierra Leone’s National Development Plan,” he said.

Ambassador Muller noted that the European Union and Sierra Leone collaborate together in a long-term partnership aiming at supporting to the development and the prosperity of Sierra Leone.

He recalls that following a fruitful Political Dialogue in November 2022, the European Union and Sierra Leone reconfirmed their strong commitment to continue their long-term partnership during the visit of President Julius Maada Bio to Brussels in February.

“Meetings with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell and the Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, included exchanges on our bilateral relations, our development partnership as well as on regional and international issues.The EU looks forward to continuing this fruitful dialogue with Sierra Leone which also includes matters on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council,” he reiterated.

He further recalls that in 2021, following close coordination with all relevant stakeholders, the EU adopted a bilateral cooperation programme of 245 million Euros for the period 2021- 2024.

“The partnership and cooperation between the EU and Sierra Leone for this period focuses on three priority areas, all closely interrelated: Firstly, the EU supports Sierra Leone’s green economy.By that I mean fostering the creation of decent jobs, as well as green economic transformation; increasing access to sustainable energy for jobs and growth; developing employment-oriented sustainable agriculture food systems.”

He said the EU supports Human Development for Sierra Leoneans to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives.

“Human capital development is key; we share this important priority of the Government. Investing in Basic and Secondary Education and Technical and Vocational Education and Training is part of our support. Thirdly, the EU supports Democratic and Inclusive Governance and Human Rights. This includes supporting public service delivery at national and local level. It also targets economic governance to underpin sustainable economic and social policies by strengthening public finance management, transparency and domestic resource mobilization,” he said.

 He reaffirmed that the EU is ready to continue supporting initiatives leading to a better business and investment climate, which is crucial for broad-based and inclusive economic growth and development and reminded the government that, “We believe that legal security including the respect of existing contracts remains crucial for attracting investment.

He narrated that during the last two decades, the European Union has provided concrete support to transparent, democratic, competitive and peaceful elections.

He noted that, the European Union believes that only strong democracies can ensure stability and sustainable development and that in response to the invitation by the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone, the European Union will deploy an Election Observation Mission to observe the general elections on 24th June.

“The EU previously deployed Electoral Observation Missions to Sierra Leone in 2018, 2012, 2007 and 2002, as well as an Election Follow-up Mission in 2021.The Election Observation Mission is independent from the EU Delegation and works in line with the established EU methodology on election observation,” he said.

He said the Core Team of the Election Observation Mission arrived last week and “we are pleased to have them with us today here in this Europe Day reception.

 He said the European Union is also supporting the strong efforts by Sierra Leone for the conduct of the upcoming elections.

“Through UNDP and International IDEA we will assist Electoral Management Bodies and civil society to create a conducive environment for peaceful and credible elections,” he said.

Amabsasdor Muller said the EU acknowledged the progress made by the Government, by the Parliament and supported by the Civil Society in important areas of governance in Sierra Leone,” he said.

“As one very recent example, I would like to mention the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Law, signed by H.E. President Bio in January, which includes a progressive quota of 30 per cent representation of female candidates – which by the way goes much beyond what is practised in most countries of Europe. Congratulations to the women of Sierra Leone!”

He encourages all actors to continue strengthening the rule of law, democratic structures, inclusive governance, checks and balances as well as media freedom.

Citing the Ukraine war and it economic consequences on world economies, he said the European Union is fully mindful of the economic and social impact of the Russian aggression on Ukraine to other countries including Sierra Leone.

“People in the whole world are facing increased prices of fuel, food, transport and other basic commodities and services. The EU in the framework of its projects in the area of green economy will continue to support the efforts of Sierra Leone to become less import-dependant,” he said.

He noted that one of the pivotal elements in EU cooperation with Africa is the Global Gateway Africa-Europe Initiative and that in close cooperation with their African partners, the EU will continue to support infrastructure development in Africa to enhance connectivity.

“I am delighted that in 2022, two bridges, in Magbele and in Mabang, both built with EU funding, were commissioned by H.E. President Bio. These bridges are good examples of the longstanding partnership between Sierra Leone and the European Union in working together building up a regional road corridor, connecting Sierra Leone with its neighbouring countries. A good example of what “Global Gateway” means in practise.”

He said the European Union is not only the EU Delegation but also a Union of 27 Member States.

“We are working together as “Team Europe”. In Sierra Leone, the EU Member States France, Germany and Ireland have resident diplomatic missions. Others engage actively through their Embassies in neighbouring countries and honorary consuls in Freetown.”

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