2020 is promising to be an important year for EU-Africa relations. The African Union’s Agenda 2063 attaches strong priority to international cooperation, while both the new European Commission and European Council strategic agendas identify the need to forge a comprehensive partnership with Africa. Achieving prosperity and inclusive societies in Europe and in Africa will require closer cooperation between both continents. Demographic change, aging populations, urbanization, youth unemployment, digitalization and climate change are among the big trends that will transform both European and African societies fundamentally in the years to come. These megatrends unfold gradually but are likely to cause disruptive changes in the near future. Influencing and shaping these megatrends to enhance socio-economic transformation is still possible, but immediate action is needed. The EU is one key partner for the AU and African societies in this regard. Yet, beyond the EU, also China, Russia and others have also recently intensified their relations with Africa and geostrategic competition has increased since 2017.
The AU-EU summit that is scheduled for the second half of 2020 gives an opportunity to set Africa-EU relations on a new footing, clarify both sides’ objectives and interests in the cooperation and define both sides’ comparative advantage in engaging with each other in light of the changed global setting. Preparations for the summit also allow for making important steps in developing a truly European Africa policy that is more than the sum of the EU institutions and member states’ efforts and instead provides for a select number of strategic joint initiatives and a stronger complementary approach. The ‘Comprehensive Strategy with Africa’ that is currently prepared can set a milestone in this regard.
The objective of the high-level strategy meeting is to identify priority objectives and areas for joint and complementary European cooperation with Africa. It focuses on building a European position. In order to do so, it brings together high-level decision-makers from the EU institutions and member states as well as a few academic experts from European think tanks to discuss about the EU’s objectives, strategies and instruments in cooperating with African partners. The meeting will take place in a small and informal setting to allow for open debates and exchanges and is held under the Chatham House rule.
ECDPM’s San Bilal will provide inputs to the session ‘Fostering a strategic economic partnership and promoting socio-economic transformation’