Originally billed as the panacea for policy incoherence, the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) is a bold attempt to move from a donor-recipient relationship to a partnership of equals, looking beyond development issues. It was jointly negotiated and agreed with African stakeholders. The JAES’ profile, however, has dropped since the last Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli in November 2010 and questions are increasingly asked about its utility.
Like other European Member States the three Nordic EU member countries are making use of the broad JAES framework by engaging in those thematic areas which follow their own policy objectives. Doing this within a multilateral framework could be considered a first step towards more policy coherence, yet wider questions still remain.
On the European side it remains to be seen whether the coming into being of the European External Action Service (EEAS) will accelerate the idea of a comprehensive European Africa policy and smoother implementation between institutions and member-states. But it should not be lost that ultimately this strategy was supposed to be “joint” between Africa and Europe and so it success depends as much on African stakeholders.