Members' Research Service By / February 17, 2022

Understanding the EU’s approach to a new partnership with Africa

The European Commission’s work programme for 2020 announced ‘a new comprehensive strategy with Africa to boost economic relations, create jobs in both continents and deepen our partnership across the board’.

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Written by Eric Pichon.

Africa has been put at the core of the Commission’s geopolitical work programme and of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU. In February 2022, a summit between EU and African Heads of State and Government will discuss ways to build a new and comprehensive partnership, based on five pillars put forward by the EU: green transition and energy access, digital transformation, sustainable growth and jobs, peace and governance, and migration and mobility. Although the proposal mainly builds on existing frameworks, its high profile and clear commitment to the African Union (AU) make it an important milestone in an effort for a deeper relationship and strengthened partnership in multilateral fora, initiated several years ago.

In order to preserve its own economic and security interests in the face of increased geopolitical competition, the EU intends to continue to be an important player on the African continent. The EU and the AU have converging interests in a number of areas, such as the fight against climate change and the promotion of a sustainable, job-creating African economy. However, they still have to find common ground on migration, security management, and fundamental values.

The comprehensiveness of the proposed strategy is challenged by the gaps and overlaps of the current variable-geometry partnerships. The coronavirus outbreak delayed the adoption of a common strategy. At the same time, it clearly highlighted the need to strengthen the links between the two continents in order to tackle the most urgent global issues. Measures to fight the current pandemic and to prevent future ones have reframed the priorities and will give new impetus to partnerships in areas such as health, the fight against climate change, and promoting the digital transformation.

This briefing updates ‘Towards a new EU strategy with Africa’, published in June 2020.

Africa and climate change

Read this briefing on ‘Understanding the EU’s approach to a new partnership with Africa‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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