The Permanent Representation of Luxembourg to the European Union and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) have the pleasure to invite you to the seminar ‘2018: A chance to get it right’ to launch ECDPM’s Challenges Paper on Africa-Europe relations in 2018.
This seminar will bring together policymakers and experts to debate key issues and policy processes that will shape Africa-Europe relations this year. As a scene setter and to kick-off the discussion, ECDPM’s James Mackie will present the Challenges Paper for Africa-Europe relations in 2018. A panel discussion will follow with: Ambassador Baso Sangqu (Ambassador of South Africa to the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Mission to the European Union), Barbara Pesce-Monteiro (Director of UNDP’s Representation Office in Brussels), Felix Fernandez-Shaw (Cabinet HRVP Mogherini) and Shada Islam (Director of Policy at Friends of Europe).
After the seminar, we invite you to join us for a drinks reception.
The year 2018 presents a unique opportunity for Europe and Africa to arrive at a more coherent partnership between the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement and the AU-EU Joint Africa-EU Strategy. Policymakers on both continents will also make a number of key decisions on Brexit, migration, security, the next EU budget and the institutional and financial reforms of the African Union. A window of opportunity opens for Africa and Europe to build a new type of interest-driven partnership that is capable of tackling the major new challenges in Africa, Europe and the global world. Will the different parties seize this momentum?
Find here the invitation to the event.
Below, please find the main takeaways following the discussions that took place during this event.
Much has changed since the Cotonou Agreement was first signed back in the year 2000. A number of global players have emerged, that are influencing global power dynamics across the globe and are challenging traditional Western players such as Europe. The African continent has also shown tremendous economic growth and assertiveness in global decision-making, including through the African Union.
The African Union has emerged as a unique continental platform to articulate and push for continental aspirations embedded in its Agenda 2063. The role of the AU in coordinating peace and security efforts, migration management and the overall strategic partnership of the continent with international actors – including but not limited to the EU – has been increasingly notable.The AU is indeed a force to be reckoned with in EU-Africa relations, but its role in post-Cotonou negotiations is not clear. The AU – like the EU – has limitations to its authority and how far it can go in representing the interests of its member states
The existing post-Cotonou framework should be adapted to new realities. Regionalisation trends in the ACP need to be taken into account. The participants in the seminar identified the need for a very strong EU-Africa pillar in post-Cotonou negotiations, which at the same time doesn’t exclude the other regions of ACP. There was a positive reading of the European Commission proposal for Regional Compacts and ACP officials have also reiterated their strong desire to continue working with the EU.
However, African parties to the Cotonou agreement are yet to finalise their Common Position, which is expected in May 2018. While there was a call from African counterparts to be seen as one unit, what EU’s relationship with middle-income countries (MICs) should be in the next agreement is yet to be clarified.
The last EU-AU Summit demonstrated a better balance between the two parties. “The tone has changed”, according to officials attending the last EU-AU Summit in Abidjan, and interests and values are now spelt out more clearly. Unlike previous Summits, a good number of European Heads of States participated in the Summit in Abidjan. This was well received by the African organisers. The Summit, therefore, also offered a good opportunity for EU-Africa leaders to touch base on various issues on – as well as alongside – the Summit agenda.
The Summit in Abidjan demonstrated that space for civil society to contribute to the EU-Africa partnership is increasingly shrinking. While there is a tendency to see the role of civil society in foreign policy as supplementary to state actors’, some participants highlighted that policy deliberations can no longer be organised at the state level only. Some even voiced foreign policy ‘will not fly’ without civil society on board. Participants in the event pointed out that there is merit in taking civil society participation as a core element of a post-Cotonou agreement. From the African side, there is much that needs to be done to create open and conducive spaces for civil society, as neither the EU-Africa partnership nor decisions in the AU or its member states, can succeed without the participation of civil society.
In recent years, the topic of migration grabbed the attention of decision-makers as well as the public. However, the debate on migration has been misguided and framed as a crisis – while the real crisis seems to be rather a political one. Migration management in the EU gave a feeling of losing control. This framing has not been constructive, but it has garnered interest from multiple directions. The question is how to transform the interest and energy around migration positively, in a way that balances short-term needs with long-term development interests. The EU needs to acknowledge this and position its engagement with Africa vis-à-vis other equally potent and valuable partners. It, therefore, needs to have a long-term vision, if it wants a stable partnership with the African continent and a leading role in global multilateralism.