Nigeria and the European Union on Tuesday in Brussels agreed to deepen their strategic cooperation to support efforts to fight against the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and the West African sub-region.
The agreement was reached between the Vice President of the EU, Federica Mogherini, and Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, during the 6th Nigeria-EU ministerial dialogue.
The ministerial dialogue, which is the first since President Muhammadu Buhari’s election in 2015, was a key event in deepening the existing EU-Nigeria partnership, to provide the opportunity to discuss a broad range of topics.
Nigerian Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazau, and the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, also attended the meeting.
While Mr. Onyeama met with the EU Peace and Security Committee, Mr. Danbazau had an exchange with the EU Commissioner Avramopoulos, and CTC De Kerchove.
On security, the EU welcomed the progress by the Nigerian armed forces in the fight against Boko Haram and assured Nigeria of its continued support to ensure that insurgency was checked in the region.
Welcoming the Abuja Security Summit held May 2016, the EU highlighted the importance of a comprehensive approach by both parties, including humanitarian aid, reconstruction, socio-economic development and respect of human rights by security forces.
On its part, Nigeria welcomed the substantial humanitarian aid by the EU in support of the affected population, while both parties agreed to take steps to expand their cooperation in countering terrorism and violent extremism.
With respect to migration, the Messrs. Mogherini, Onyeama, Avramopoulos, and Danbazau discussed the next steps to implement the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM), signed in March 2015.
They also reviewed the Action Plan of the Valletta Summit on migration held in November 2015 and agreed that the EU and Nigeria would work together to tackle irregular migration, including return and readmission, and to better take advantage of the opportunities provided by regular migration.
During the meeting both welcomed the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa established at the Valletta summit, saying this would also support actions in Nigeria and the neighbouring Lake Chad countries.
Also on the agenda of discussion was the situation in West Africa and the wider Gulf of Guinea, including the situation in the Sahel and the continued crisis in Libya.
While recognising the key role Nigeria was playing in the region and beyond with regard to peace and security, particularly in its capacity as a member of the African Union Peace and Security Council, AU PSC, Mogherini said the EU would continue to support these efforts.
He identified Burundi as one of the urgent situations to focus engagement on.
He commended the steps taken by the Buhari administration in fighting corruption and assured that the EU would continue to assist through capacity building activities for the Nigerian anti-corruption agencies and their participation in international initiatives.
Mr. Mogherini and Mr.Onyeama reiterated their commitment to a long-term trade and investment partnership, including the organisation of the fifth edition of the EU-Nigeria Business Forum this year.
They also discussed the signature process of the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA and broader trade and investment issues, which would be further discussed between the State Minister and Commissioner Malmstrom on Wednesday.
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