South Africa and the European Union deepened their cooperation with the adoption of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership in 2006, followed in early 2007 by a Joint Action Plan.
The Strategic Partnership builds on common values and interests, and seeks to significantly enhance SA-EU relations. South Africa is recognised as a key player globally and an anchor country on the African continent. Two strands are central to SA-EU cooperation:
Enhance political dialogue and cooperation on bilateral, African and global issues - contact takes place at all levels including SADC, NEPAD, African Union, and the family of UN agencies.
The development of stronger and sustainable cooperation in economic and other areas, including trade, science and technology, education and health.
The Strategic Partnership builds on the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement that, while provisionally applied in 1999, provides the legal basis for all SA-EU bilateral relations since 2004.
The partners have an ongoing discussion on issues of mutual interest such as effective multilaterism, debt relief, a fair global trading system, and work towards peace, security and greater prosperity in the world.
The European Union is South Africa's largest trading and investment partner with the country in turn prominently placed within the EU's top-20 trading partners. Economic Cooperation covers both private and public sector activities. Significant Foreign Direct investment flows in both directions drive long-term economic growth.
Focused on poverty alleviation, the European Union is South Africa's largest development partner. The EU annually commits over 6R billion in grants and loans to economic and social development. as well as governance programmes in South Africa. These are implemented in close cooperation with Government and civil society.
Economic Cooperation, driven by South Africa’s need for employment creation, has become a top priority for the two partners and includes trade development, micro-enterprises and SME support, investment promotion and protection, and information technologies. It covers sectors including energy, mining, industry, transport, agriculture, tourism and other services
Local Economic Development (LED): SA-EU cooperation in action
Designed to stimulate job creation and income generation, the R374 million (€34 million) Limpopo LED Programme, with Government as a key facilitator, focuses on supporting poor and marginalised communities, emerging farmers, small and medium businesses.
Programme objectives: to build entrepreneurial skills, overcome barriers to accessing finance, to build required capacity, develop an enabling regulatory framework, to provide information. To date 81 projects have been supported and 30 municipalities capacitated. Similar programmes are running in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. Total European Union funding for LED in South Africa amounts to R1.26 billion (€114.5 million).