A crucial week for Africa and Europe beyond 2040 – A continent-to-continent approach: The African momentum
In 2018, the African Union (AU) has on several occasions advocated for an all-Africa approach in its relations with the European Union. The current construction of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of states (ACP) does not include North African states, and the existing Joint Africa EU Strategy does not have enough teeth.
The African Union Ministerial Council will meet on 14 September to discuss how to do justice to an all-Africa approach. The meeting may – or may not – result in a far-reaching African Union mandate and the precise role of Carlos Lopes, the recently appointed AU High Representative. Such a mandate would enable him to support AU member states in the negotiation of a new agreement with the European Union after 2020.
There are potential external and internal obstacles to a full-fledged continent-to-continent approach though. Putting external obstacles (notably from the EU and ACP Group) aside, this paper zeroes in on internal hurdles and pitfalls. How will a possible AU mandate be framed and how does it relate to the existing AC and EU mandates? Will African ministers reach a consensus on the mandate? Can they design an exit strategy from the ACP Group or, alternatively, perhaps breathe new life in this ageing actor – but for what purpose? Will they be responsive to EU priorities so as to enhance the African mandate’s resonance both with European interlocutors and possibly within Africa? The prospects for a more relevant and effective continent-to-continent approach beyond 2020 may well depend on how these four questions are addressed.