EU-SOUTH AFRICA STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
Letter from the Chairman to Lord Triesman
of Tottenham, Minister for Africa, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Thank you for your Explanatory Memorandum dated
12 July 2006 which Sub-Committee C considered at its meeting on
20 July 2006. The document was cleared, on the Sub-Committee's
recommendation, at the Chairman's sift on 25 July.
The document raises a number of issues, both
specific to the document and more generally in relation to the
use of strategic partnerships by the EU. The latter issues will
be addressed in a separate letter.
Overall, we welcome this initiative from the
European Commission, which responds to a request issued by the
7 November 2005 Joint South Africa-EU Cooperation Council for
the development of a strategic partnership. We feel that the proposal
is fairly comprehensive and should serve to strengthen relations
between South Africa and the EU.
Despite this generally positive appraisal, the
Communication completely eludes the importance to the EU of South
Africa's reserves of so-called "strategic minerals",
including precious and rare metals. In particular, chromium, cobalt,
manganese, vanadium and platinum-group metals are used in key
industrial processes (notably in the defence and aeronautical
sectors). South Africa holds the majority of the world's reserves
of platinum, gold and manganese ore, as well as significant reserves
of chromium. We therefore believe that South Africa's strategic
position in relation to security of supply and market equilibrium
must receive the attention it deserves in the draft Joint Action
Plan to be prepared for the EU-South Africa Cooperation Council
of 14 November 2006.
We also felt that two issues should have received
more attention in the Communication: the challenges posed by the
situation in Zimbabwe, and the threats to health and development
posed by the HIV-AIDS pandemic. With regards to Zimbabwe, we feel,
as was highlighted in our report on the EU's Strategy for Africa,
that weak governance in Zimbabwe and other African countries has
to be addressed as a priority, and that it should figure as an
important aspect of future regional political cooperation in the
Joint Action Plan. Similarly, we feel that the question of HIV/AIDS
should be a priority issue in the Joint Action Plan, and in particular
in the Country Strategy Paper currently being prepared.
We request that you take into account the above
issues when the Communication is considered during the General
Affairs and External Relations Council on 15 September. We would
furthermore encourage you to seek to obtain agreement in Council
inviting the Commission to integrate these considerations fully
into the draft Joint Action Plan.
25 July 2006