Interview with Philippe Darmuzey, Head of the Unit 'Panafrican Issues & Institutions, Governance & Migration' at the European Commission
Following Europafrica’s interview with the then African Union’s Representative to the EU, H.E. Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Europafrica posed the same questions to Mr. Philippe Darmuzey, Head of the Unit “Panafrican Issues & Institutions, Governance & Migration” at the European Commission.
Europafrica: In your view, what is the main added value of the joint strategy in comparison with Africa’s other strategic partnerships, for instance with China?
Mr. Darmuzey: There is no comparison. The Africa-EU strategic partnership is unparalleled in the world – something worth bearing in mind three months before the third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the two continents which is scheduled to take place in Libya in November. The 27 European and 53 African leaders will certainly grasp the opportunities offered by this strategic meeting between the two continents. Despite, or even because of, the global crisis, they will have a chance to put a political vision and joint responses to current and future challenges before the one and a half billion people of the 80 European and African countries. What is new about our relations and the main added value of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy is that international crises or disagreements about a particular issue or about a particular country or conflict no longer lead to irreparable rifts, but are the subject of dialogue between experienced partners. We do not always agree, of course, but our discussions are frank and “obstacles” and “frustrations” are not allowed to override the mutual interests of the two continental groups, which now deal with one another on an equal footing even though our relations continue to be uneven in terms of resources and facilities. The message that leaders will send to their peoples from the November Summit will be one of finding answers to the crisis. It will provide the forum, long awaited in both continents, for key talks about Africa as a factor of growth for Europe and Europe as a factor of growth for Africa through its enterprises and investment. The scope of our relations is broad-ranging enough to provide full-time work for all our workers in future years. It is not worth spending time on whether the other partners are doing better or worse than we are. The fact that Africa has diversified its partners is to be welcomed as is the fact that other emerging players, including China, Brazil and India, are playing their part in international efforts to develop infrastructure and build capacity in Africa; this is in everyone’s interest, including Europe. These new players all have their own contribution to make, and while that contribution may sometimes be competing it is often complementary. There is little doubt, however, that our respective initiatives would be better coordinated, more consistent and more effective if trilateral cooperation were to be improved.
The partnership with Europe continues to be the most ambitious, the most comprehensive and the most flexible. The pioneering, complex and multi-faceted framework that surrounds its achievements in the short term means, however, that too little is known and has been explained about these achievements.