Refocusing the Africa-EU Strategy

Two key partnerships will be negotiated in 2020 between the European Union (EU) and Africa, making this a crucial year for both continents. One is the post-Cotonou agreement within the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, and the other is the Africa-EU strategy.

In relation to the Africa-EU strategy, the EU released a communication in March, ahead of the scheduled October African Union (AU)-EU summit. The document proposed five priority areas: green transition and energy access, digital transformation, sustainable growth and jobs, peace and governance, and migration and mobility.

The communication noted that these focus areas were derived from the Abidjan Declaration issued during the 2017 AU-EU summit and the meeting of both continental bodies in February 2020. Even so, the priorities do not sufficiently reflect the Abidjan Declaration, with crucial issues such as poverty, health, transport infrastructure and access to the internet not adequately covered. Priorities in the AU’s Agenda 2063 are also sparsely covered.

The omissions are largely attributed to the inadequate use of a holistic people-centred approach in deciding on focus areas. For example, the communication section discusses human development through the narrow lens of creating jobs. Resilience is also primarily looked at from the perspective of the state, with limited mention of citizen and community resilience.

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In the upcoming negotiations on a new strategy, African interlocutors should ensure that the continent’s priorities outlined below are reflected. The findings of the AU strategy that were presented to the AU Permanent Representative Committee in February 2019 should also be articulated.

Among the overlooked priorities, eradicating poverty is a leading concern. More than 70% of the world’s poorest people live on the continent and addressing ‘poverty, inequality and hunger’ is critical to Agenda 2063. In the EU communication, poverty is highlighted in the footnotes, but is mentioned only once in the main text. Read more…

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