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Africa-Europe relations

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On 29 and 30 November, African and European leaders will gather in Abidjan for the fifth AU-EU Summit. Their goal: to strengthen political and economic ties between the two continents, discuss the future of the Africa-Europe partnership and talk about issues of common concern.

Which issues will European and African leaders discuss exactly? Which topics will they stay clear of, and why? What is the current status of the relationship and how can it be strengthened? Will both parties be able to shake off past habits, break with the vested interest of the past and fundamentally change the course of action? How can we make sure to link up discussions on the Africa-Europe partnership with negotiations on the future partnership between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States?

Ahead and after the Summit, ECDPM will try to answer these questions. This dossier collects our analysis, blogs and events linked to the Summit. In the weeks to come, you can expect many new blogs, articles and publications – so stay tuned.

If you would like to know about our work on Africa-Europe relations ahead of the Summit or share your thoughts, you can get in touch with our experts via our people page. For media and communications enquiries or initiatives, please contact Virginia Mucchi or Nina Thijssen.


Key analysis and opinion


Time to strengthen strategic partnerships for peace and security in Africa
Volker Hauck, ECDPM blog, 13 November 2017 | Photo by UNAMID

A more strategic collaboration among African, European and international actors is paramount to ensure peace and security on the African continent. ECDPM’s Volker Hauck argues that the upcoming AU-EU Summit will offer an opportunity to strengthen existing partnerships.

A message to African and European leaders: ‘More of the same is not good enough’
Geert Laporte, ECDPM blog, 23 October 2017 | Photo by European Parliament

There are plenty of important issues for European and African leaders to chew on during the fifth AU-EU Summit. Yet, the agenda once again stays clear of the potentially controversial topics. ‘We need to break the silence and the aversion to take risks if we want a stronger partnership’, Geert Laporte says. ‘More of the same just isn’t good enough this time around’.



Time to move to an interest-driven Africa-EU political partnership (part two)
Geert Laporte, ECDPM blog, 26 June 2017 | Photo by European Parliament
Geert Laporte proposes eight measures for Europe and Africa to build the strong partnership that everyone seems to want. But is everyone willing to support the tough decisions that these measures would entail?

Time to move to an interest-driven Africa-EU political partnership (part one)
Geert Laporte, ECDPM blog, 19 June 2017 | Photo by European External Action Service
Geert Laporte takes a critical look at the state of the Africa-Europe partnership and the European Commission’s Joint Communication, and gives an answer to the question that the document did not even dare to ask: why is this partnership not delivering the desired results?

Do values still matter in the Europe-Africa partnership?
Geert Laporte, ECDPM blog, 24 February 2017 | Photo by European External Action Service
Does Europe still prioritise values such as democracy, rule of law and human rights in its partnership with Africa? Geert Laporte argues that both continents are now at a crossroads. They should either pull back on the values agendas, or make it an essential component of their partnership again.

Matching means to priorities: Challenges for EU-Africa relations in 2017
James Mackie, Matthias Deneckere and Greta Galeazzi, ECDPM challenges paper, 8 January 2017 
In the 2017 edition of our annual ‘challenges paper’, we explore some of the political challenges for the year 2017, adopting issues of financing for development and Europe-Africa cooperation as a guideline, and exploring ways to match means to emerging priorities.

Youth: a shared priority for Europe and Africa
Greta Galeazzi, ECDPM blog, 23 February 2017
During the 2017 edition of Yo!Fest, ECDPM invited young people to discuss the relations between Europe and Africa, voice their concerns for the future and outline their recommendations for policymakers. In this blog Greta Galeazzi reflects on the discussions and the challenges for young people in Europe and Africa, as well as their relevance for Europe-Africa relations.


Our work on the 2014 Summit


The Bulletin of Fridays of the Commission – Making EU-Africa relations future-proof
ECDPM and the African Union Commission, 20 June 2014

Beyond the 2014 Summit: Which way forward for EU-Africa relations? Report of the informal high-level seminar hosted by ECDPM
ECDPM, 6 June 2014

The global game has changed: What role for Europe-Africa relations?
Europe-Africa Policy Research Network, April 2014

Are Africa and Europe turning a new page in their relationship?
James Mackie and Faten Aggad-Clerx, 11 April 2014

Don’t ignore the elephants in the room – Will the Africa-EU Summit revitalise the partnership?
Geert Laporte, 28 March 2014

The implementation of the Joint Africa Europe Strategy: Rebuilding confidence and commitments
Damien Helly, Essete Abebe Bekele, Sahra El Fassi and Greta Galeazzi, March 2014

A question of leadership? Challenges for Africa-EU relations in 2014
James Mackie, Sahra El Fassi, Camilla Rocca and Sebastian Grosse-Puppendahl, December 2013

Challenges for Africa-EU relations (video playlist)
ECDPM, March 2014

Five challenges in Africa-EU relations (infographic)
ECDPM, March 2014

Africa-Europe relations #post2015 (blog series)
ECDPM, May 2013 to November 2015


Our work on the ACP-EU partnership


If you liked this dossier, you might also be interested in our dossier on the future of ACP-EU relations.

The EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States have governed their relationship since 1975 through a sequence of partnership agreements. The most recent of these is the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which expires in 2020. Although official negotiations for a new partnership will not start until 2018, the future of the ACP-EU partnership has already been hotly debated for a number of years.

ECDPM, with more than 30 years of involvement in ACP-EU relations, helps guide this debate towards realistic and workable scenarios for the future that benefit all parties concerned. This dossier collects our past work on ACP-EU relations as well as our recent analyses of a future partnership.