SA, EU say they’re preparing summit, relations strong

The European Union flag. Picture: Reuters/File

The European Union flag. Picture: Reuters/File

Published Apr 10, 2024


South Africa’s government and the European Union delegation to the country emphasised the strength of their relationship and said they were working on holding a bilateral summit.

Plans to hold the gathering last year were thwarted because South Africa had reportedly not committed to a date. An EU spokesperson in Europe said in a reply to queries that it “unfortunately” hadn’t been possible to hold the summit last year.

“South Africa and the European Union have maintained a regular exchange throughout 2023 in order to prepare their bilateral summit,” the government and EU delegation said on Tuesday, rejecting the claim that Pretoria hadn’t suggested or set a date.

People familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorised to discuss the topic publicly, said the delay was fuelling concern among Western powers that South Africa was turning increasingly towards Russia and China and neglecting relations with Europe. South Africa and the EU delegation rejected that notion.

The EU is South Africa’s biggest trade partner. The summits are meant to reflect the bloc’s strategic partnership with South Africa, the only nation on the continent with which it has such a relationship.