Friday

27th Jan 2023

North Africa revolutions spotlight EU policy further south

  • EU Council head Van Rompuy (r) and African Union commission head Jean Ping at the previous Africa summit in Libya in 2010 (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The recent wave of pro-democracy revolutions in north Africa and the implications for EU relations with the wider continent are among the thorny topics set to dominate an EU-Africa meeting next week.

Sub-Saharan Africa still counts a number of repressive leaders amongst its ranks, while discussions on conflict resolution in Libya could also prove divisive. The African Union favours a ceasefire in its member state, while European airplanes are among those actively bombing military targets near Tripoli and elsewhere in the country.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

The two-day meeting in Brussels (31 May - 1 June) will take place between members of the European Commission and the African Union (AU) Commission, with AU chairman Jean Ping among the eight senior African officials scheduled to visit the European capital.

Despite recent alterations to the EU's neighbourhood policy, under which funding for recipient north African and east European states will become increasingly tied to reforms, an equivalent tightening is less evident for sub-Saharan Africa.

"We are shaping a new policy ... but the question of repressive regimes is not as simple as saying 'now you don't get any more money'," Klaus Rudischhauser, director for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries with the commission told journalists at a briefing on Friday (27 May). "Things are a little bit more complex but they are on the agenda."

European development commissioner Andris Piebalgs is scheduled to publish a communication this autumn, outlining "new orientations" for the bloc's development policy, including aid criteria for countries with governance problems.

"The aim of our development policy is poverty reduction. That means finding a way to do something for people on the ground, without doing too much to support the government of which we may not approve," Rudischhauser said.

He also noted that the EU has been largely responsible for tackling the humanitarian crisis caused by the Libyan conflict, and pointed to divisions within the African Union itself: "As strongly as it acts when there is a coup d'etat, excluding governments which have an unconstitutional change of government ... Libya remains a member of the African Union."

Other key African developments are expected to appear on the agenda, including the recent installment of Alassane Ouattara as president of the Ivory Coast and Sudan's imminent division into two states.

A series of thematic sessions will precede a plenary session between the two colleges, with a meeting on security set to address issues of drugs trafficking and maritime piracy. Economic growth, regional integration, the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, agriculture and food security are also set to be discussed in the thematic meetings.

The subject of mineral exploitation has been added to the list of debates, with a recent EU raw materials communication underlying Europe's determination to secure sufficient access of supply.

At the same time, NGOs and some MEPs are pressing the EU to introduce new rules to stamp out 'conflict minerals' from entering Europe, with the control of lucrative mining businesses in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo widely reported to be fueling the region's ongoing bloody conflict, born out the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

The United States is in the process of introducing a system of 'due diligence' reporting for companies listed on American stock exchanges, under which firms must ensure minerals such as tin, tungsten and tantalum are sourced from de-militarized mines.

"The EU is considering this issue but has nothing planned for the moment," a source indicated to this website on the due diligence issue.

They also confirmed that an assessment over the need for EU special envoys could see the region's representative in the African Great Lake's region being scrapped. "There is a process of review underway at the moment. EU delegations under the external action service can do a lot of the work formerly carried out by special envoys," said the official.

Congo fatigue: EU funding in the heart of Africa

The Democratic Republic of Congo was last year the largest recipient of EU support among ACP states. But critics say this approach has failed, drawing a question mark over the EU's next step.

Opinion

Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

The director of Amnesty International Greece on the political spying scandal that now threatens to bring down prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Activists and NGO staff work with the constant fear that they are being spied on.

Opinion

Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

The director of Amnesty International Greece on the political spying scandal that now threatens to bring down prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Activists and NGO staff work with the constant fear that they are being spied on.

Latest News

  1. Official: EU parliament's weak internal rule-making body leads to 'culture of impunity'
  2. Red tape border logjam for EU's 1.3m 'frontier workers'
  3. Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency
  4. Greek government in no-confidence vote over spying scandal
  5. The legal battle for justice against Kremlin's 'untouchables'
  6. UAE's fossil-fuelled high-tech mirage of a green future
  7. MEP harassment case sheds light on flimsy support for victims
  8. Big Agri's EU lobbying playbook on 'hunger' and a 'refugee crisis'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  2. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  3. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  4. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  2. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  3. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  5. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  6. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us