Every 9th of May, the European Union celebrates peace and unity on 'Europe Day'.
The event marks the anniversary of the historical 'Schuman Declaration', which was presented by French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman on this date in 1950.
At a speech in Paris, Schuman set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would eliminate the possibility of war between European countries.
He also proposed that a coal and steel community be created with the idea to merge economic interests, which would help raise the standards of living and create a more united Europe.
The European Steel and Coal Community created after Schuman's speech eventually grew into today's European Union. The original six members (France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) now number 28 states.
This year the EU also celebrates The European Year of Cultural Heritage and the aim is to encourage more people to discover and engage with Europe's cultural heritage.
Cultural heritage is important as it shapes our identities and everyday lives. In this respect, the EU actively supports the development and preservation of Namibia's cultural heritage through projects such as "Museum Development as a Tool for Strengthening Cultural Rights in Namibia".
This project was designed to preserve music and other cultural heritages in Namibia and is implemented by the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN).
In addition, the EU supports an Indigenous Languages Research Project and the Department of Communication at NUST recently received funding amounting to some N$ 3.5 Million for this project.
The purpose of this initiative is the revitalisation of indigenous languages and to preserve culture.
It will focus on Oshiwambo, Otjiherero and Khoekhoe languages. Moreover, the first ever European Music Festival, supported by the EU and Member States will be held on the 26th of May at the Warehouse Theatre in Windhoek and will feature European musicians from France, Germany and Spain.
Turning to EU-Africa relations, 2017 was a defining year for the partnership between the Europe and Africa.
The 5th EU-Africa Summit took place in Abidjan, Ivory Coast from 28-29 November 2017 and it was agreed that the common priorities for the EU-Africa partnership will be in the following strategic areas: Economic opportunities for Youth; Peace and Security; Mobility and Migration and Cooperation on Governance. "The European Union remains Africa's biggest partner and closest neighbour, biggest investor, trading partner and provider of development aid and humanitarian assistance as well as its biggest contributor in peace and security" stated President of the European Council, Donald Tusk at the 5th AU-EU Summit last year.
Another important topic this year is the commencement of the Post-Cotonou negotiations, which is expected to start in August.
In February 2020, the Cotonou Agreement between members of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) on the one hand and the EU and its Member States will expire.
The Commission proposes that the future partnership with ACP countries will build on the collaboration that already exists, but with a more regionally tailored approach.
It is recommended to have one single agreement, articulated into a common foundation with the ACP Countries and three regional compacts.
For the Africa region the focus will be on peace and stability, consolidation of democracy, unleashing economic opportunities and reaching human development standards among others.
These areas are also fully in line with the AU-EU Summit.
In relation to the cooperation programme between Namibia and the EU, focal areas of cooperation are Livestock development in the Northern Communal Areas of Namibia and Education and Training.
Mid-last year the EU and Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture launched the Livestock Support Programme in Opuwo.
Expected benefits from this programme include improvement of the entire value chain, starting from livestock production to the processing of meat and other animal products.
By improving the quality of animals and animal products, the programme will boost opportunities for NCA farmers to sell their animals and animal products to local, national, regional and international markets.
This in turn will lead to increased income for farmers and uplift their living standards.
Total funding pledged by the EU towards this programme amounts to 20 Million Euro over a six year period.
EU support to the Education Sector totals EUR 28 million and is aimed at assisting Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Pre-Primary Education in Namibia.
"We believe assistance to ECD is a way to target income inequalities and social disparities in Namibia as quality Education remains the best equalizer" said EU Ambassador to Namibia, Jana Hybaskova.
On 24 April this year, the EU, together with Government and the German Government handed over E-Learning Resource Centres and IT Equipment as part of an EU funded Programme to support the development of a "Training Hub", benefitting three vocational training centres in northern Namibia.
This programme endeavours to assist Namibia in having well trained people, who are able to respond to the requirements and demands of the private sector and find employment opportunities.
The European Union remains committed to support Namibia's development in line with the country's National Development Plan, Harambee Prosperity Plan and Vision 2030.
Europe Day will be celebrated in Windhoek on Wednesday, the 9th of May 2018 at the Gondwana Shebeen, Windhoek Show Grounds and will start at 12h30.