Friday

19th Aug 2022

EU-Africa summit on youth met with scepticism

  • Juncker (r) 'It has been said the Europeans have been giving lessons to the Africans. I think this is a past era.' (Photo: EU Africa)

European and African leaders at a summit in the Ivory Coast have pledged to help youth find work and repatriate some 3,800 migrants stuck in a Libyan detention camp.

But youth groups and civil society say the summit was a missed opportunity as issues of migration and private investments appeared to take centre stage.

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

Asked why people should expect leaders to honour their commitments on youth employment given past disappointments, Guinea's president Alpha Conde on Thursday (30 November) said Africa was no longer divided.

"The difference is that Africa was not speaking with one voice and was not acting together. Today we are united," he said.

He said the plan is to have Africa replace China as the "factory of the world".

Around 60 percent of the African population is under 25. With the population set to double by 2050, EU leaders are hoping to trigger a renewed relationship with the continent as part of a broader effort to keep people from taking boats to Italy and Europe.

Young people denied speaking time

The two-day summit, which ended on Thursday in Abidjan, was billed to focus on youth but the issue appeared to have been broadly sidelined.

In a tweet on Thursday, the German youth advocacy group Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung (DSW), which was scheduled to talk at the summit, said young people were simply not heard.

"Having first been placed on the agenda, civil society (EU and African) and youth were then prevented from speaking - at a summit all about youth! It beggars belief," it tweeted.

A contact at DSW told EUobserver that civil society groups for young people were instructed of the ban around half an hour before their scheduled appearance on Thursday morning.

"They went all the way there, they were sitting in the seats with their speeches in hand, and it didn't happen," he said.

He said some of the African delegations did not want civil society groups to take the floor despite pressure from their EU counterparts.

"They were each supposed to be given two minutes," he said.

A half dozen civil society groups, in a joint-statement, said the surprise ban "makes a mockery the lofty rhetoric we have heard in Abidjan this week."

Global advocacy group ONE made similar criticisms.

"If this summit is a deception, it's a collective responsibility," said Friederike Roder, the ONE director for France, who was also present at the summit in Abidjan.

EU spins hope

This perception appears to have not been shared by the EU side.

Donald Tusk, the European Council president, told reporters that both African and European youth representatives had been heard at the summit, "which brought a new energy to our discussions".

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU plans to invest more in Africa and on an equal basis.

"The partnership between the African Union and the European Union is a partnership between equals," he said.

Juncker then repeated EU plans to shore up some €44 billion by 2020 from private investors for projects in Africa.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union Commission chair, said joint declarations had also been signed on youth and Libya.

But as of writing, neither declaration had been published. Mahamat instead spoke about Libya and the need to repatriate some 3,800 migrants from a detention camp.

"Together the European Union, the United Nations through the IOM, we have decided to set up a task force to act now, to at least repatriate the 3,800," he said.

Mali blames West for chaos in Libya

Mali's foreign minister Abdoulaye Diop told the EU in Brussels that the lack of vision and planning following the Nato-led bombing campaign in Libya helped trigger the current migration and security crisis.

Opinion

EU must push African Union on rights abuses

The EU-Africa Union summit in the Ivory Coast provides a chance to scrutinise the human rights records of African states the EU is enthusiastically partnering-up with.

EU wants continental free-trade deal with Africa

Earlier this week, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in his state of the union announced a new relationship with Africa. On Friday, his subordinates outlined the vision, promising jobs and growth by leveraging public funds for investments.

EU declares Africa 'most important' global partner

The European Commission has a new strategy for Africa. The proposal, whose details have yet to be worked out, spans broad issues like climate, energy, digital transformation, jobs, peace, governance, and migration.

Opinion

Could the central Asian 'stan' states turn away from Moscow?

The former Soviet states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan have retained close ties with Russia since 1989. Yet this consensus may be shifting. At the UN, none of them supported Russia in the resolution condemning the Ukraine invasion.

Column

Is this strange summer a moment of change?

It is a strange, strange summer. The war in Ukraine continues, 60 percent of Europe is in danger of drought, and Covid is still around and could rebound in the autumn. At the same time, everyone is desperate for normalcy.

News in Brief

  1. China joins Russian military exercises in Vostok
  2. Ukraine nuclear plant damage would be 'suicide', says UN chief
  3. Denmark to invest €5.5bn in new warships
  4. German economy stagnates, finance ministry says
  5. Syria received stolen grain, says Ukraine envoy
  6. Truss still leads in next UK PM polling
  7. UN chief meets Zelensky and Erdogan over grain exports
  8. Fighting stalls ahead of UN visit, Ukraine says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Latest News

  1. European inflation hits 25-year high, driven by energy spike
  2. No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks
  3. Letter to the Editor: Rosatom responds on Zaporizhzhia
  4. Could the central Asian 'stan' states turn away from Moscow?
  5. Serbia expects difficult talks with Kosovo at EU meeting
  6. How scary is threat to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
  7. Slovakia's government stares into the abyss
  8. Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us