This was the message from the celebration of the 68th anniversary of Europe Day at an event in Pretoria hosted jointly by the EU Ambassador to South Africa, Marcus Cornaro and his wife Astrid, and the EIB Regional Representative, Tom Anderson, in the city yesterday.
As with all national days, the event opened with the playing of the national anthems, but Cornaro added a touch by playing the EU anthem, based on Beethoven’s Ode to Joy on the flute. This was followed by the singing of Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika by local a cappella group, Just 6.
In a speech, Cornaro said Europe Day was not only a celebration but a collective commitment to making the union work and deliver, not only for its European members but the rest of the world too.
He described the EU and SA as key strategic partners, committed to strengthening of multilateralism, democracy, peace, and sustainable development, promoting fair trade and human rights and acting together against environmental degradation and climate change, and.
In his response, Andries Nel, the Deputy Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs responsible for provincial and local government, said South Africa was committed to its partnership with the EU which, as a bloc was SA’s largest trading partner.
European investors represented 77% of the total foreign direct investment in South Africa, and made a significant contribution towards job creation. Trade reached R600 billion last year, with exports to the EU totalling R262bn, he said.
Nel welcomed new opportunities that would be made possible through the SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement and said benefits of increased trade would help address the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment as envisaged in the NDP.
After the toasts, Corano invited ambassadors present from European countries to join him for a photo, before guests enjoyed drinks and snacks and networking on the lawns of the historic Crowns End residence.
* The EU has 28 member countries, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey are in the process of transposing to the EU while the United Kingdom has voted to leave the EU.