HELSINKI, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Finland and Germany on Wednesday underlined the need to widen cooperation between the European Union and Africa.
Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne said at a press conference in Berlin after meeting German chancellor Angela Merkel that "the situation in Africa was much discussed".
"We both agreed that we need to do more together on the European level together" towards Africa, Rinne said.
"We need to have more partner cooperation with the African Union and European Union, with member states on both sides," Rinne said. He noted that it is important for Africa to get more infrastructure, better education and fresh water and food.
Talking later to the Finnish national broadcaster Yle, Rinne said Finland hopes Africa would have a higher place in the work profiles of the EU Commissioners, as "the future of Africa also affects Europe greatly."
In a separate development, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto will visit in the near future Sudan and Red Sea coastal countries as a representative of the European Union. Haavisto has been assigned by the EU to work towards helping to solve the conflict in Sudan, the Foreign Ministry announced this week.
FINNISH INDUSTRIES DELIGHTED
Earlier this week, representatives of the Finnish industries welcomed the breakthrough reached over the weekend in creating an African free trade area.
Talking to Xinhua, Taneli Lahti, director for trade policy issues at the Confederation of Finnish Industries, underlined the possibilities the free trade area opens.
"When it gets activated and free trade starts in practice, it will create growth and wellbeing on the African continent," he said.
Lahti also noted that free trade has been facing obstacles elsewhere, and in this respect the results in Africa are important.
"Looking ahead towards the future, a free trade arrangement between the European Union and the African Union would be a possibility, although it would still take many years," Lahti added.
On European issues, Rinne also said at the press conference that there is shared understanding of Finland and Germany on the need to strengthen the EU's global role in mitigating climate change, promoting free trade and defending the rules-based system, "which has a strong transatlantic foundation."
Rinne said he and Merkel had discussed the priorities of the Finnish EU presidency, the climate and energy policy, the multi-annual financial framework, EU enlargement and rule of law.
"The aim is that we would have the figures of the financial framework by the end of October so that we can then continue the discussions based on them," Rinne said.