Opening Ceremony

Special Event
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
11:30 to 13:00

Key points

  • The EU’s commitment to tackling inequalities closely matches the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. EDD 2019 is bringing the two together.
  • Development trends have been largely positive in recent years, but there is a real danger that they will reverse.
  • The EU is the world’s largest development donor; not out of charity but as an investment in growth, jobs and a better future for all.
  • The causes of illicit migration must be tackled at source, by ensuring better opportunities in the countries of origin.
  • Private investment must play more of a role in development.


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to provide a universal commitment to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration; respect for human rights; and the humane treatment of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons. Leaders at the EDD opening session all shared these aims. ‘Europe does not exist just for itself,’ insisted European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. That is why the EU is the world’s biggest development donor, he added. But, he said, the age of charity is over. ‘What we need is a partnership of equal dignity. Private investment must also be stimulated, with the aim of creating 10 million new jobs in Africa within five years.’ He hoped that a free trade area could one day be created between the African and European continents. ‘There is no doubt that we have made progress,’ said Belgium’s Queen Mathilde. But that progress has often been too disparate, and the 2030 goals may not be met, she said. In fact, ‘trends that have been positive until now are reversing, she warned. Access to clean water is a case in point. ‘Nobody must be left behind.’ Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame declared: ‘Those on the receiving end of assistance should drive their own development agenda.’ This requires investment in human capital and technology, as well as an emphasis on the role of women and youth in Africa’s future. EDD is all about ‘narrowing the gap’, agreed Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lotay Tshering. ‘The most powerful social levellers in the world are health and education. Senegal President Macky Sall pointed to ‘a concern we have in common – the fight against inequalities both within and between nations’. Illicit migration and people smuggling from Africa to Europe demonstrate a joint interest in tackling the causes of that migration at source by providing new opportunities in the migrants’ home countries. ‘Inequality is the source of nationalisms and populisms,’ warned Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament. ‘If we want to tackle the issue of migration from Africa, we have to see it through African eyes.’ He suggested that African transformation of African raw materials could be promoted, so creating new industries and jobs.


Leaders from rich and poor countries all agreed on the urgent need to reach the development goals. But this will have to be through a partnership of equals.

Organised by


Femi Oke
Moderate The Panel
Antonio Tajani
President of the European Parliament
European Parliament
Lotay Tshering
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan
Macky Sall
Her Majesty The Queen of the Belgians
The Queen of the Belgians
Palais Royal
Jean-Claude Juncker
President of the European Commission
European Comission