Senegal’s New Leader Calls for a Rethink of the Country’s Relationship With the EU

Senegal’s new leader Bassirou Diomaye Faye has called for a rethink of the country’s relationship with the EU during a visit by European Council President Charles Michel.

Faye, who was inaugurated as president on 2 April, was elected on pledges of radical reform and promises to restore national “sovereignty” over key industries.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Michel on Monday night, Faye said cooperation between Senegal and Europe was “dense and multifaceted, but together we want a rethought, renovated partnership”, one “capable of supporting the innovative dynamic we want to imprint on our relations”.

As part of his promised reforms, Faye recently announced the renegotiation of oil and gas contracts, and hopes to do the same with fishing agreements signed with the European Union.

Fishing is a significant part of Senegal’s economy, but the industry is grappling with the effects of overexploitation of marine stocks.

Improvements for both sides

Michel said the two parties “should not dread” broaching difficult subjects if it meant “bringing about improvements for both sides”, pointing to the fisheries issue in particular.

Faye said his government would pursue a model of boosting development from within, focusing on agriculture, livestock and fishing, while also strengthening infrastructure such as railways, electrical grids, telecommunications and roads.

“European investors whose companies have recognised skills in these different sectors are welcome,” he added.

Michel said Europe had an “objective interest in Senegal being able to meet the challenges of development, economic emergence and improvement of the living conditions of the people”.

“The world order is the result of political choices that were made in the last century in a totally different world”, which is why the European Union “supports more justice and more inclusion”, Michel said.

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