13th Oct 2019

EU told not to meddle in Africa summit invite list

Plans by the Portuguese EU presidency to host the first EU–Africa summit in seven years are running into difficulties over Zimbabwe.

African nations have urged Europe not to meddle in its summit delegation list and to handle Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe's attendance "sensitively".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"Africa won't move on the position that you cannot determine who constitutes the African delegation", Aziz Pahad from the South Africa's ministry of foreign affairs said on Wednesday (5 July).

"Today it's Zimbabwe. Tomorrow it could be us or another country", the deputy foreign minister added, according to AFP.

The summit between the two continents is scheduled for 8–9 December, but the issue of how to deal with Zimbabwean authoritarian president is casting a long shadow over the event.

Robert Mugabe, in power since his country's independence in 1980, currently has an EU travel ban against him. The red light was issued in 2002, after his ruling Zanu–PF party won in what the EU considers a rigged election.

Several African nations have threatened to boycott the highest political meeting if Mr Mugabe is not allowed to attend, whilst on the European side, some capitals – particularly London – are likely to oppose his presence at the summit.

It is not the first time the issue has caused a severe diplomatic headache. The same row indefinitely postponed a summit scheduled for 2003.

Earlier this week, Portuguese prime-minister Jose Socrates said he was sure to find "appropriate diplomatic formulae" so that the meeting – designed to boost mutual ties and discuss topical issues such as immigration and development – could take place.

Some have suggested that the African Union, not the EU, should formally invite Mr Mugabe, with the Europeans hoping he will turn down the offer and not attend.

South Africa itself – the home to estimated three millions of Zimbabwean political and economic refugees – has shown deep concerns over its neighbour's prospects.

"Inflation is estimated at 5,000 percent a year. The currency has all but collapsed. There is no new investment apart from some mining operations and unemployment is rising", South Africa's Aziz Pahad was cited as saying by AFP.

"We are concerned that this is not in the interests of the people of Zimbabwe", he added.

Portugal struggles with EU-Africa summit guest list

The Portuguese EU presidency is struggling to find ways in which to formally invite Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe to Europe's summit with Africa while also ensuring that he does not actually attend.

Commissioner suggests solution to EU-Africa summit dilemma

EU external affairs commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner has suggested that a government minister could represent Zimbabwe at the forthcoming EU-Africa summit as a solution to some EU capitals' refusal to sit at the table with president Robert Mugabe.

Commission takes Poland to court on eve of election

As Poland's combative Law and Justice party faces elections this Sunday, the commission once again sends a case on its domestic judiciary reforms to the European Court of Justice for breaking EU rules.

EU to better protect journalists, Jourova promises

The current Czech commissioner for justice, Vera Jourova, was approved for the next commission, as she promised to defend democracy from online threats, and to present ideas about reforming future European elections by 2020.

German MEP challenges Suica on conflict of interest

Croatia's European commissioner nominee, Dubravka Šuica - who has been highly-critised at home for not being fully transparent - promised during her European Parliament grilling that she will work "towards the rule of law and transparency".

News in Brief

  1. Italy: EU cannot accept Turkish 'blackmail'
  2. Is a Brexit deal still possible?
  3. EU and UK to 'intensify' Brexit talks
  4. Norway hit by train strike over EU regulations
  5. Macron says he warned von der Leyen on Goulard
  6. France: EU will retaliate in aviation state aid battle
  7. EU considers new rules and agency against dirty money
  8. France against accession talks for North Macedonia, Albania

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us