On 6 March this year, Ghana celebrated 60 years of independence. Since 1957 Ghana has developed strongly, consolidating its democracy and respect for human rights, becoming a lower-middle-income country, and improving the wellbeing and prosperity of its population.

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By coincidence March 1957 was not only the month of Ghana’s independence. It was also the month when the Treaties of Rome were signed. On 25 March 2017 the European Union will mark 60 years since the signature of the Treaties, the first step towards a united Europe.

Since the birth of the European Communities in 1957 the citizens of our Member States have enjoyed six decades of unprecedented peace, prosperity and security. The contrast to the first half of the 20th Century could not be greater. Two catastrophic wars in Europe between 1914 and 1945 left millions dead, and a continent devastated, divided and prostrate. For countries that had long been at war, European integration has been the most successful peace project in our history.

However we are living in unpredictable times and the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties is the opportunity not only to reaffirm our commitment to the values and objectives on which the European project is founded but also to take pragmatic and ambitious steps forward.

So this month of March, Europe, like Ghana, is reflecting on the past and looking forward. This should also be a time of reflection about the EU – Ghana Partnership. The European Union today is Ghana’s first trading partner, top investor and leading source of development assistance. How can we reinforce this close relationship?

The European Commission has already started thinking about the future relations between the EU and the Africa Caribbean and Pacific group – the ACP. The Cotonou Convention comes to an end in 2020. What should replace it?

The European Union also has to adapt its cooperation to the new Sustainable Development goals. Later this year in Abidjan the next EU Africa summit will take place; the theme will be jobs and youth.

Over the coming months, the EU in Ghana will be engaging in discussion on these questions with the Government, with civil society and with young people in order to build a reinforced partnership focussing on common values and interests

“We stand for multilateralism, for human rights, for international cooperation. We stand for sustainable development, inclusive societies, the fight against all inequalities – in education, in democracy and human rights. For us, this is not just aid: it is also a smart investment in our own security and prosperity”.

“We stand for better global rules, rules that protect people against abuse, rules that expand rights and raise standards.”

A more fragile international environment calls for greater engagement, not for retrenchment. This is why the EU will continue to support and help the United Nations. Our cooperation with the UN covers peace missions, diplomatic efforts, human rights, tackling hunger and fighting criminality. The European Union is also a strong and active partner of regional organizations such as ECOWAS and the Africa Union.

Whatever events may bring in the future, one thing is certain: the EU will continue to put promoting international peace and security, development cooperation, human rights and responding to humanitarian crises at the heart of its foreign and security policies.

Issued by the European Union Delegation to Ghana