Our vision is to have a meaningful South Africa-EU Strategic Partnership based on common shared values and mutual interests that will contribute to a prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united world that is just and equitable.


Since the signing of the South Africa-European Union (EU) Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) in 1999, the South Africa – EU relationship has developed into a solid and mutually beneficial Strategic Partnership. The TDCA is the most comprehensive developmental framework that the post-1994 democratic South Africa entered into with a trading partner and forms the legal base for cooperation in areas of trade, political dialogue and development cooperation.
South Africa is the first country in Africa to have signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU: The trade chapter of the ‘FTA’ has helped the integration of South Africa into the global economy and provided the foundation for comprehensive relations.
In 2004 both parties identified the need to further deepen cooperation in order to help address the many global and regional challenges. This led to the adoption of the South Africa – EU Strategic Partnership Joint Action Plan, in May 2007.
The foundation laid by the TDCA informed the evolution of the relations into the current South Africa-EU Strategic Partnership, formalised in 2007. One of South Africa’s key achievements is its progressive Constitution, which provided the framework for the Strategic Partnership. This has resulted in the development of a Strategic Partnership centred on shared key values, including the promotion of peace and security, human rights, democracy, the rule of law and sustainable development across both regions.
The Strategic Partnership established a new overarching framework for all existing fora of cooperation, called the Mogôbagôba Dialogue, the North Sotho word for the Yellowwood tree – South Africa’s national pride.
The Mogôbagôba Dialogue expanded the scope of the interaction beyond trade issues, to incorporate Policy Dialogues, Sectoral Cooperation, Development Cooperation and Political Dialogue. The Mogôbagôba Dialogue is a three tier dimension intended to oversee all forms of cooperation between the two partners, which include meetings of the Joint Cooperation Council, the Ministerial Political Dialogue and Summits at Heads of State / Heads of Government level.
At the sixth Summit which took place in Pretoria on 18 July 2013, both South Africa and the EU confirmed the existing trend of a partnership that covers much more than a trade-agenda, with the key outcomes under the theme “Job Creation through Inward Investment”. The partners also expressed their desire to use their ‘soft power’ to influence the global system by promoting the values of a rules based multilateral system, promoting development, socio-economic and political progress, as well as stability in a globalising world.
The relationship has also provided success in the fields of Environment, Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda – and South Africa and the EU continue to work together to address poverty and inequality aimed at creating a better world for future generations.
The EU as a bloc (28 members) is South Africa’s largest trading partner and largest foreign investor (accounting for 72% of South Africa’s total FDI stock). Over 2000 EU companies operate within South Africa creating over 350 000 jobs, and producing value added goods which are exported and which contribute substantially to skills development and job creation. South Africa’s exports to the EU increased from R137 billion in 2010 to R197 billion in 2014 while imports from the EU increased at a slightly higher rate, from R188 billion in 2010 to R300 billion in 2014. Total trade with the EU has increased from R325 billion in 2010 to R497 billion in 2014.
South Africa – EU Development Cooperation is a pillar of the Strategic Partnership and remains centered on the concepts of value addition fostering innovation, piloting, capacity development and catalytic initiatives aimed at addressing the reduction of poverty and inequality in South Africa. The SA-EU Multi-Annual Indicative Programme (MIP) for South Africa has been considerably scaled down from €980 million for the funding cycle 2007-2013 to €241 million for the funding cycle 2014-2020. The MIP outlines three priority areas aligned with objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP), namely, (i) employment creation; (ii) education, training and innovation; and (iii) building a capable and developmental state. It should be noted that EU ODA constitutes 1.3% of South Africa’s total budget and 0.3% of the GDP.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has also made €416 million (R5.8 billion) available in loans. These focus on SMEs finance, infrastructure, education, health and research and innovation.
One of the key contributions to strengthen regional integration is through the Infrastructure Investment Programme for South Africa (IIPSA). IIPSA is a €100 million (approximately R1.5 billion) infrastructure investment programme developed jointly by the SA Government and the EU. The programme is capitalised by the EU as a grant facility to address the constraints to infrastructure development in South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region.
The trade chapter of the TDCA will be replaced by the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiated between the EU and the Southern African EPA configuration comprising Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa. After more than 10 years of negotiations, negotiations concluded with the initialing of the Agreement in July 2014 in South Africa.
Within the framework of the Strategic Partnership, the 14th South Africa – EU Joint Cooperation Council (JCC) was held in Brussels on 26 November 2014 with South Africa being represented by a strong, high-level delegation consisting of 45 officials from 18 departments, headed by the Director General of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Ambassador Jerry Matjilla.
The South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, Ms Federica Mogherini co-chaired the 13th Session of the Ministerial Political Dialogue in the context of the Strategic Partnership, on 26 February 2016, in Pretoria, South Africa.
At the Ministerial Political Dialogue, both South Africa and the EU welcomed progress regarding the ongoing co-operation in a wide variety of areas covered by the Strategic Partnership and the Joint Action Plan. Both sides re-affirmed their commitment to continue expanding the Strategic Partnership by placing emphasis on achieving concrete deliverables to the mutual benefit of both parties.
The 22nd South Africa – EU Inter-Parliamentary Meeting (IPM), held in Cape Town from 23 to 24 July 2015 and the 23rd South Africa – EU IPM, held in Strasbourg from 13 to 14 April 2016, afforded Parliamentarians from both sides an opportunity to exchange views in a cordial and frank manner on a wide variety of issues, ranging from the oversight role of the Parliaments in the South Africa – EU Strategic Partnership, development cooperation and trade to current regional and global issues of mutual interest.
The EU is expected to host the 7th South Africa – EU Summit in Brussels during 2016, which would deepen the Strategic Partnership and afford its leaders the opportunity to address common challenges.
The EU, with a population of half a billion people remains the single-largest economy in the world, accounting for 18.6% of the world’s GDP’ – it has one of the world’s most advanced infrastructures and it is one of the key global Centres in which knowledge, cutting edge innovation and technology are domiciled. Hence, it is only logical that South Africa should consolidate its relations with the EU and its member states. The formal Fora that the EU and South Africa have established to allow for a broad-ranging dialogue should be seized as an opportunity to deal with common problems, foster better understanding of different approaches to key international questions, and help to push the global agenda forward to meaningfully change the lives of people for the better. In welcoming these achievements, South Africa looks to a continued and strengthened Strategic Partnership with the EU (and its institutions), as the country pursues its goals for Vision 2030, as articulated in the NDP.

We support the work of the various South African and European Commission Directorate-Generals who are involved in the implementation of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership. This work also includes engaging with civil society and various other stakeholders who might be interested in finding out more about South Africa’s relations with the EU.
We follow the work of various European Parliament Committees and the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with South Africa (D-ZA), which are involved in issues relevant to South Africa’s Foreign Policy and the South Africa – EU Strategic Partnership.


What sectoral areas do South Africa and the EU cooperate in?
The Strategic Partnership covers over twenty sectoral policy dialogues, covering diverse issues including development cooperation, science and technology, space, communications, migration, health, trade, education and skills development, peace and security and human rights. Programmes are based on South Africa’s developmental priorities.