The new head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will visit Ethiopia this weekend as part of her first trip to Africa after assuming the EU presidency.
“On Friday, I am going to do my first trip outside the EU. That will be to Africa,” she told journalists in Brussels, in another symbolic move meant to show Europe’s increased focus on the continent.
During her stay in Addis Ababa, Von der Leyen is expected to meet President Sahlework Zewdie and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
She will also meet Moussa Faki Mahmat, Chairman of the African Union Commission, to explore further cooperation with the continental body.
The EU is a major trading partner with, and donor to, African countries.
EU has promised more investment to the continent to better tap its economic potential and stem the flow of African economic migrants who attempt perilous crossings of the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
Furthermore, the president is expected to attend the opening of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known formally as COP25 that will held in Madrid, Spain.
She has set high targets in the European Union’s policy to combat climate change, pledging to reduce the bloc’s carbon emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030.
She disclosed that her objective is to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, meaning carbon emissions should be fully offset by measures that cut CO2, like planting trees.