Monday

15th Apr 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

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.

Interview

EU should use 'all means' to end war in Gaza: Belgian minister

The EU should use "all means" possible to end the violence in Gaza, including sanctions, a peace conference, and a review of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, Belgian development cooperation minister Caroline Gennez told EUobserver.

Latest News

  1. EU special summit, MEPs prep work, social agenda This WEEK
  2. EU leaders condemn Iran, urge Israeli restraint
  3. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  4. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  5. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  6. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  7. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  8. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us