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The Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECWAS), Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, says comprehensive and integrated strategy will maximise the benefits of the EU and ECOWAS partnership.

Karlsen in a statement, issued by Mr Paul Ejime, Spokesperson, ECOWAS Observer Mission, on Thursday in Abuja, commended the long-standing excellent cooperation between the Union and ECOWAS.

“I believe that in line with the EU post-Cotonou policy thinking, we can achieve more with an integrated approach using partnership tools to strengthen our collaboration,” Karlsen said.

He added that there was the need for a shift from the current “project-by-project approach to a multidimensional strategy,” building on the ideas espoused during the EU-ECOWAS Ministerial Meeting of November 2018.

The EU official said that while the EU-ECOWAS partnership had recorded many achievements, “we cannot rest on our laurels.”

To achieve the desired outcomes, Karlsen emphasised that the partnership process must also be Africa-led, adding that “our (EU’s) role is to partner and add value, but not to dictate or take over.

“The EU has provided ECOWAS with grant supports valued at more than one billion euro over the last 6 years.

“These cover interventions in various fields, ranging from peace and security, to anti-terrorism, peacekeeping, capacity building, fight against piracy, human trafficking, transhumans, as well as economic development and poverty reduction, among others.

“About 293 million euros have been provided for peace and security efforts alone over the last 10 years.”

The ambassador said that beyond peace and security, which were interlinked with economic development, “there are also some cross-cutting issues.”

These according to him, include climate change and population growth, which can exacerbate the challenges of economic development and regional integration, if not properly handled.