Sunday

7th Jun 2020

EU declares Africa 'most important' global partner

  • Ethiopia is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The EU's latest Africa strategy builds on past and new promises spanning everything from governance to climate change, migration, digitisation, security and energy (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Commission has declared it wants a new partnership with Africa - three years after making similar such pronouncements.

"This is one of the most important, maybe the most important international partnerships, that we are going to work with," the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Brussels on Monday (9 March).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

His comments follow the publication of the European Commission's strategy on Africa, on Monday.

The latest iteration builds on past and new promises spanning everything from governance to climate change, migration, digitisation, security and energy.

Borrell spelled out a sense of urgency and importance in a strategy whose full details will not, in fact, be worked out until this autumn.

"Our growth and security depends on what happens in Africa, maybe more than any other part of the world," he said.

He added that the EU's future will be shaped by an expanding African youth, in regards to their political and economic aspirations. Some 375 million young people are expected to reach working age in Africa in the next 15 years.

His predecessor, Federica Mogherini, said almost the same at the EU-Africa summit in November 2017.

"We need to increase even more our cooperation; on global issues like climate change and environmental issues; to economy, investments, creation of jobs, education," she said at the time.

The 2017 summit focussed on youth and job creation but ended up denying them a voice with many unceremoniously sidelined.

The summit was followed by a commission plan to leverage over €40bn of private investments by the end of this year and create some 10 million jobs over the next few years. The latest plan says it intends to build on those initiatives.

Africa: 60% of world's fastest-growing economies

Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, said the latest strategy is needed because of shifting realities in Africa.

"The old narrative of Africa, as a continent of instability and threats, is challenged by huge emerging opportunities," she said.

According to 2018 figures, presented by the commission, six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world were African and 30 African states are middle-income or high-income countries.

But the continent also has some 390 million people living below the poverty line and is mired with conflicts in places like the Sahel, an African region south of the Sahara the size of Europe.

Borrel last month declared that the European Union would supply conflicted states battling instability with guns from the so-called European Peace Facility, once launched towards the end of 2020.

With the strategy published, the plan now is to consult member states, financial institutions, civil society and African counterparts.

The aims is to have a political declaration at the Africa-EU summit sometime in October.

The last time the EU presented a strategy on Africa was in 2007. "The world has changed a lot since then," point out Urpilainen.

But not everyone is happy with the commission's masterplan.

The general secretaries of Caritas Africa and Caritas Europa, development NGOs, say the commission strategy is likely to backfire.

They say it focuses too much on African domestic problems, while neglecting the negative spillovers of EU policies in Africa.

"If the EU does not stop giving with one hand and taking away with the other, this new proposal to foster sustainable growth and development in Africa will be doomed to failure", they said, in an emailed statement.

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

Borrell: Africa 'needs guns' for stability

The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the EU will help provide Africa with more guns to fight terrorism. "We need guns, we need arms, we need military capacities," he said in Addis Ababa.

Opinion

EU's new Africa strategy misses the mark

The EU's new Africa strategy promises relentless support for "a comprehensive continent-to-continent free trade area" - and ignores the risks posed by trade liberalisation where labour, fiscal and social regulation is immensely diverse and sometimes weak.

Feature

How spies use women to steal EU secrets

"Thou shalt not sleep around on delegation" should be the "11th commandment" for EU diplomats, as spies continue to use Cold War-type 'honey-traps' in modern times.

EU calls George Floyd's death 'abuse of power'

The EU's top diplomat said the death of a black American in policy custody was an "abuse of power", while a top liberal MEP on data privacy said the US government actions raise questions on EU-US cooperation.

News in Brief

  1. Poland accused of 'blatant violation' of EU court injunction
  2. EU concerned by US approach to Kosovo and Serbia
  3. City morgues cast doubt on Putin's virus data
  4. ECB increases pandemic stimulus to €1.35 trillion
  5. New EU cloud computing platform 'moonshot'
  6. City of Berlin passes anti-discrimination law
  7. Iran hits record corona cases in second wave
  8. EU job losses tell tale of pandemic damage

Opinion

Is Russia manipulating food supplies during pandemic?

Russia already dominates global oil – letting them dominate global food during a pandemic would spell disaster for the EU. It would effectively mean the EU, not just depending on Russian energy, but increasingly also on Russian food supply.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration
  2. Internal EU borders open by 15 June - bar V4, Portugal, Spain
  3. CAP 'failed to halt biodiversity loss', auditors find
  4. After Covid-19, deserted Venice struggles to survive
  5. Commission plans strategy to 'maximise' vaccine access
  6. How spies use women to steal EU secrets
  7. Hong Kong - when the Chinese Dream became a nightmare
  8. Right of reply: Letter from the Hungarian government

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us