Making policies work

Joint Africa EU Strategy essential for Africa and Europe, but needs to be politically aware – brand new study reveals


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Despite problems, a renewed Joint Africa EU Strategy (JAES) is essential for a working partnership between Europe and Africa, says a new study conducted by the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) for the European Parliament.

The JAES declaration, which was agreed in 2007, will be discussed at the upcoming EU-Africa Summit in April 2014 at a time where both continents are experiencing dramatic changes.

“Despite its bureaucratic shortfalls, politically aware and motivated stakeholders actually managed to use it effectively in conducive environments;” says Damien Helly, Policy Officer EU External Action at ECDPM; “Yet, the partnership has lost its political traction because of serious divergence on trade, international justice, governance and cultural cooperation. Refreshing the partnership is now necessary to rebuild trust and commitment.”

The JAES is also made up of eight partnerships. The framework was most successful in areas, such as infrastructure and research co-operation, where there was flexibility and imagination from both sides. 

However, there were areas where cooperation and dialogue was blocked – the biggest example of this being the Economic Partnership Agreements, but also the International Criminal Court.

Some most notable outcomes of the partnerships can be seen in peace and security, often cited as the most successful of the eight due to shared interests between both continents. It was allocated over 1.1 billion Euro since 2004 through the African Peace Facility.

However, there was not unity in all crisis situations, the West’s military response to the crisis in Libya in 2011 caused a major rift between the African and the EU. Western powers largely ignored the African Union’s efforts, whose response was instead centered on roadmap to make Gaddafi step down.

Despite some successes, genuine political dialogue has been missing between the two continents, and there have been no ministerial meetings held since 2010, says the report.

Trust will only be built between the partnership if there is:

  • Clear political leadership from both sides
  • Alignment on long term and global strategies
  • Clarification on relevant and appropriate level of intervention of JAES implementation
  • Available funds programmed according to the mindset of the joint strategy
  • Available space for informal multi-stakeholder dialogue paving the ground for mutual understanding
  • Stronger monitoring and oversight mechanisms on implementation by parliaments, civil society and other bodies

The study was presented at the Committee on Development on 3rd March.

Notes for Editors:

The Joint Africa Europe Strategy (JAES) was agreed by heads of state and government and EU and AU leadership in 2007.

The EU-Africa Summit will take place on 2-3rd April in Brussels, it will be the first Summit in three years.

 The Economic Partnership Agreements were agreed between West Africa and the EU in January 2014, however the negotiations between East Africa and EU were not concluded.

 The eight partnerships that make up the JAES are:

  • Peace and Security
  • Democratic Governance and Human Rights
  • Regional Economic Integration, Trade and Infrastructure
  • Millennium Development Goals
  • Climate Change and Environment
  • Energy
  • Migration, Mobility and Employment
  • Science, Information Society and Space

ECDPM has been working on EU-Africa relations for over 25 years.

Read our blog on Africa-Europe relations ahead of the Summit here

African institutions and regional dynamicsEuropean external affairsAfrica-EU RelationsJoint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES)