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Taking Stock of the Joint EU-Africa Strategy and Africa’s International Relations

11-03-2010

SAIIA, ECDPM Meeting Report, 11 March 2010

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Meeting in Addis in February 2010, African Heads of States discussed a report which reviewed Africa’s relations with different international partners. This year will be a milestone in EU-AU relations. African and European Heads of States will meet at the end of November to discuss the framework guiding the relationship between the two continents, namely the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) and its associated Action Plan. 

This small meeting, organised by the European Centre for Development Policy Management and the South African Institute of International Affairs, will discuss the JAES and its current challenges within the context of Africa’s international relations and emerging actors on the continent. The purpose is to share perspectives within the two continents on the subject, both within Africa and Europe.

This meeting was kindly sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in South Africa and was hosted in partnership with ECDPM

    Programme

    The Joint Africa-EU Strategy and Africa’s international relations

    Pretoria, 11 March 2010 

    Objective of the meeting

     

    Meeting in Addis in February 2010, African Heads of States discussed a report which reviewed Africa’s relations with different international partners. This year will be a milestone in EU-AU relations. African and European Heads of States will meet at the end of November to discuss the framework guiding the relationship between the two continents, namely the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) and its associated Action Plan.

    This small meeting, organised by the European Centre for Development Policy Management and the South African Institute of International Affairs, will discuss the JAES and its current challenges within the context of Africa’s international relations. The purpose is to share perspectives within the two continents on the subject, both within Africa and Europe. 

    10h00- 10h05

    Welcome and explanation of content of the meeting – SAIIA 

    10h05 – 10h20

    The state of Africa’s international relations

    Dr Mzukisi Qobo, Project Head: Emerging Powers and Global Challenges, SAIIA

    This session will look more closely at the Africa’s geopolitical landscape – especially the role new actors on the continent and what this means for Africa’s traditional partners.

    10h20 – 10h30

    Questions for clarifications

    10h30 – 10h45

    The key challenges facing the Joint Africa-EU Strategy: An Independent Perspective from Europe

    Eleonora Koeb, Programme Officer, Development Policy & International Relations, ECDPM

    The purpose of this section is to present some of the key challenges the JAES faced in its 2.5 years of existence. The presentation will focus on institutional and political challenges in the run up to the next EU-Africa Heads of State Summit and consideration of the 2nd Action Plan 

    10h45-10h55

    Questions for clarifications

    10h55 – 11h10

    JAES EU/Africa Peace and Security Partnership: A model of continental cooperation?

    Eleonora Koeb, Programme Officer, Development Policy & International Relations, ECDPM

     EU-Africa political dialogue and cooperation on Peace and Security issues have grown significantly in the past four years.  Amongst the eight thematic partnership areas of the JAES it is regularly referred to by stakeholders on both sides as the most successful.  Is this assessment correct? Are there elements of success that could be replicated in other areas? Can other JAES Partnerships learn from it? What does this say about the EU’s strategic interests in Africa and how might this change with the new Lisbon Treaty on European Union coming into force?

    11h10 – 12h00

    Discussion

    Summary Report

    Summary of the presentations

    Dr. Qobo (SAIIA): Taking stock of Africa’s international relations

    Dr. Qobo noted the changing geo-political and geo-economic landscapes in Africa, looking at internal aspects and relations with external players. He highlighted that emerging powers have increased the intensity of engagement with key African states, and have followed trends that have been established by the EU, USA and Japan. This development was then juxtaposed against EU-Africa relations, with Mr. Qobo stressing that it could jeopardise European projects on the continent that focus specifically on good governance models. According to Dr. Qobo, there are perceptions among the Chinese that the EU is keen to constrain China’s activities in Africa so as to guard its own soft power elements. Given the varying modes of engagement, as well as codes of conduct, Dr. Qobo’s main observation was that the EU faces challenges as a result of the rise of emerging powers, at both a global and African level. Europe thus needs to react and assert itself as a major player. The presentation was followed by a lively question and answer session, which was aimed at clarifying Dr. Qobo’s presentation.

    Eleonora Koeb (ECDPM): What next for the Joint Africa-EU Strategy? Perspectives on revitalising an innovative framework
    Eleonora Koeb stressed that the ECDPM has been engaging with the JAES process since its very beginning as a neutral facilitator. In the context of the reflective period ahead of the 2010 EU-Africa Summit, her presentation was aiming at constructive criticism so as to help close the widely perceived gap between discourse and reality with respect to the JAES, which is threatening its credibility.

    While there are some aspects of continuity, Ms. Koeb highlighted the innovations the partnership. In this respect, she noted that it aims to upgrade EU-Africa relations to a strategic political partnership based on joint interests and a common vision. It is meant to enable continent- continent cooperation, especially with a view to addressing global challenges such as climate change, terrorism etc., while fostering integration on both sides. It serves as an over-arching and inclusive framework for EU-Africa relations. However, according to Ms. Koeb there are three major challenges facing the JAES, namely, lack of engagement of all stakeholders, lack of results from cooperation and dialogue in this framework so far, and the fact that political dialogue is not driving partnerships. Furthermore, she argued that there are indications that a genuine change in mentality has not yet taken place, that the JAES is currently not being used as a true partnership between the two players to address important global challenges and that most of the current cooperation could be done through other already existing frameworks. This led her to conclude that there is a risk that the framework will loose credibility if its added value is not clarified.

    Eleonora Koeb (ECDPM)/ Thomas Muehlmann (EU): The Peace and Security Partnership – Lessons to be learned for the Joint Africa-EU Strategy
    Following questions for clarification, Ms. Koeb provided a second 15 minute presentation on JAES EU-Africa Peace and Security Partnership. This partnership has from the beginning exhibited political momentum, shown results in terms of cooperation and political dialogue and seems to be characterised by a relatively intense and good working relationship and communication on a day-to-day basis. Ms Koeb presented progress in the three priorities for cooperation under this partnership: Firstly, the political dialogue at many different levels was noted. Secondly, she emphasised the support that it provides in the context of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). Thirdly, it has enabled cooperation on sustainable funding for African led peace-keeping missions in international fora, especially the UNSC. Ms Koeb argued, that the main reasons for the success of the partnership were

    1/ a common strategic interest of the AU and the EU in developing APSA and African-led Peacekeeping that is well accepted on both sides, 

    2/ a well articulated continental African agenda and AU institutional structures and policies that preceded the JAES 

    3/ a dedicated financial instrument to implement the priorities decided at the political level. In the other partnerships of the JAES, areas of cooperation that comply with those three characteristics may need to be identified jointly so as to ensure that the basic incentives for active engagement of stakeholders are in place.

    Mr. Thomas Muehlmann of the EU Delegation to the African Union confirmed the reasons for the success of the partnership as presented. He further highlighted the added value of the JAES in bringing together 27 EU countries in their the support to the AU in the area of peace and security, ensuring that their activities are aligned to the AU’s priorities and are complementary to each other. In addition, the JAES helps the EU to better coordinate its different political tools and financial instruments as was described by means of the example of EU support to the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia, which among others receives EU support for SSR, humanitarian aid, technical and financial support to AMISOM as well as political support to the Djibouti process. As a latest element of its engagement, the EU will launch a CDSP mission, called EU Training Mission in Somalia, to support training efforts and to provide specialised training for 2.000 future Somali security forces in close coordination with AMISOM.

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    European external affairsMeeting reportsReportsSummary reportsACP Group of StatesJoint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES)Lisbon TreatyAfricaEurope

    External authors

    Eleonora Koeb

    Dr Mzukisi Qobo