Can the EU prioritise both the African Union and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group?
This year’s AU-EU Summit, involving 55 African countries, takes place at a time when the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states are preparing negotiations on a future Partnership Agreement, which governs EU relations with no less than 48 of the same African countries.
The Summit is a critical opportunity for the EU and AU member states to engage in high-level dialogue, and to address the complex and fragmented existing architecture for EU cooperation with Africa.
Yet EU-ACP cooperation is not formally on the agenda of the upcoming Summit. Instead, partners appear to keep the political partnership agenda of AU-EU separate from the ACP-EU development cooperation system, despite their recognition of the need to strengthen regional dynamics.
While understandable given the differing memberships, guiding principles and negotiation timetables, it will be difficult for the EU simultaneously to step up interest-driven cooperation and dialogue with the African Union and its member states, while also maintaining EU-ACP cooperation under the procedures and processes of the Cotonou Agreement.