Doing more with less. How to adapt EU development and external action to new challenges in the Africa-Europe Partnership?
The Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) have the pleasure to invite you to a co-organised seminar to launch ECDPM’s Challenges paper on Africa-Europe relations in 2017.
This seminar will bring together officials from the European Commission, European Parliament, European External Action Services, members of the CODEV, ACP and COAFR Council Working Parties and Civil Society representatives to discuss key challenges in the run-up to the upcoming Africa-EU Summit at the end of 2017. As a scene setter and to kick-off the discussion, ECDPM’s Challenges Paper for Africa-EU relations in 2017- matching means to priorities will be presented.
ECDPM’s annual Challenges Paper seeks to identify important debates that can be expected in the coming year and beyond and to sketch the backdrop against which these will unfold. The aim is not to predict outcomes, but to situate debates that concern Africa-EU relations so as to facilitate as wide a stakeholder engagement as possible.
The seminar will take place at the Permanent Representation of Malta, Rue Archimède 25, Brussels.
The draft programme and concept note are available here.
The topics touched upon during the event gave rise to interesting discussions. Here, our experts highlight some of the main takeaways.
1. Africa’s security and development challenges, alongside the existential crisis context in Europe and concerns over the global role of the United States under Trump, mean that the two continents will have to build stronger alliances. To do so, many of the longstanding hurdles between Europe and Africa need to be addressed. A more disengaged U.S. could also trigger a strengthened political engagement of the Global South, including through organisations such as the ACP, G77 or CELAC.
2. European and African leaders and institutions need to come to terms with their own values and interests. Only this can make the EU-Africa summit an opportunity for clear and honest exchange which contributes to a constructive, interest-driven partnership of equals.
3. African economic dynamics require increased mobility, whereas Europe’s approach to Africa is partly determined by the popular (and populist) perceived need to reduce migration flows. Dialogue to overcome this contradiction will be crucial.
4. Other joint priorities are emerging. In light of African demographics, youth is a major priority (education, employment, mobility). But given the divergences on migration, it is not evident how best to make this into an effective common agenda topic for the Summit. Security and migration concerns in Europe should not lead to overlooking the need to address poverty as a root cause of many problems. Governance dialogues should be maintained even when major differences exist. More attention should be addressed to China since its presence in Africa increases and the United States become more resistant to the principles of liberal international cooperation.
5. The new European Consensus on Development to be adopted in Spring does not help clarify the European position in this discussion. Its role is ambiguous, it lacks a sense of priorities and does not allow efficient scrutiny by the European Parliament. It does, however, link development cooperation to the aims of the 2030 Agenda 2030 with its focus on sustainable development, universality and non-aid partnerships and sources of finance.
6. Particularly the role of the private sector (both African and European) was said to be crucial for development, although questions remain on how win-win situations can be created. Getting the balance right on blending is key as too much public money makes for easy profits for the private sector, while too little will not reduce risks enough to encourage the much needed private investment. Industrialisation was stated to be key for local job creation in Africa. Middle-income countries (MICs) should also not be overlooked. They have usually undergone a social transformation, but remain vulnerable in many respects. Conditions for a sustainable future need to be further strengthened.