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Tensions flare with EU-Africa Summit only days away


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Anti-homosexuality laws in Uganda and Nigeria, and the trade deal between West Africa and the EU are causing tensions ahead of the EU-Africa Summit (2-3 April).
The European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) has released a number of documents on these challenges ahead of the Summit including:
A new paper for the European Parliament on the ‘Political dialogue on Human Rights under article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, which includes the issue of LGBT rights’.
A blog on: Don’t ignore the elephants in the room – will the Africa-EU summit revitalise the partnership? 
The study on rebuilding confidence in the Joint Africa EU Strategy, which will be agreed at the Summit.
ECDPM are also an expert on the Economic Partnership Agreements, the trade deal between the EU and Africa (and a contentious issue), which has been named a “Well-intentioned diplomatic disaster”. 

Human rights
The paper on political dialogue on human rights states that ‘magic bullets’ do not exist, and political dialogue can lead to tensions and polarization – “either because it confronts power structures that are unwilling to change (as this is the case in authoritarian regimes) or because different views may exist on the values the EU seeks to promote (the issue of homosexuality is a case in point).”
Often, Article 8 is primarily on an ‘ad hoc’ responsive and reactive basis, with uncertain follow up. It recommends developing a more strategic and structured approach to political dialogue.
It also suggests:

  • Enhancing the legitimacy of the HR political dialogue
  • Ensuring a result-oriented monitoring of HR dialogue
  • Fully exploiting the potential of development programmes and financial instruments.

The Africa EU Partnership
Geert Laporte, the deputy director of ECDPM said: “There needs to be a fundamental change in the mentalities and mind-set of both parties to shape the inter-continental relationship and its time for the influential African and European leaders to stand up and to make this partnership work.”
He notes: “The summit should tackle the delicate issues that have created tensions between both partners.  Many African countries are increasingly irritated by the prescriptive, patronizing and inconsistent application of the EU’s values and normative approaches. This is already the case on international justice and the International Criminal Court (ICC) where African leaders felt they have been targeted disproportionally, including sitting heads of state to the detriment; they feel, of peace and security initiatives.
The emerging issue of equal rights and the European protest against the “criminalisation” of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people (LGBT) is perceived as interference in national sovereignty by several African countries.”
Joint-Africa EU Strategy
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.”
Note to editors:
Please contact Emily Barker for interviews or more information.

Emily Barker
Media officer
Office: +32 (0)2 237 43 81
Mobile: +32 474 12 34 73
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.

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 economic integrationCross-cutting TopicsEU foreign and development policyEconomic recovery and transformationAfrican Union (AU)African Union Commission (AUC)EU-Africa Summit 2014European Commission (EC)European External Action Service (EEAS)European Union (EU)Human rightsJoint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES)AfricaEuropeNigeriaUganda