Authors: Rilli Lappalainen, Tanya Cox
Site of publication: Concord
Type of publication: Letter
Date of publication: December 7th, 2021
Now that the 6th European Union (EU)-African Union (AU) Summit has been scheduled to take place on 17-18 February 2022 CONCORD, the European Confederation of development NGOs would like to flag a number of serious concerns. Throughout the course of our longstanding, ongoing dialogue with the EU institutions and with African civil society partners in the EU-AU partnership framework, we have consistently advocated for a people-centred partnership and achieving transformational results for all. A key element to this is a meaningful engagement with civil society.
A people-centred EU-AU Summit
Currently, Europe and Africa are faced with several ongoing crises: the climate and biodiversity crisis; a crisis of defending basic human rights; democracy and civic space; and the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and economic consequences, which have reversed many human and sustainable development gains. Existing inequalities and fragilities have been exacerbated and new challenges are arising in a wide range of interconnected sectors. These challenges highlight the urgency for a fair, just and green partnership between the EU and Africa. Building resilient and peaceful states and societies that respect human rights and planetary boundaries, reduce poverty and inequalities, including gender inequality and gender-based violence, and secure equal opportunities and universal access to social protection, healthcare, education and nutritious food, to mention just a few objectives, should be at the core of the future partnership between the EU and Africa. Ensuring that the upcoming Summit and its outcomes address these challenges in a systemic manner is critical to achieving transformational results.
To do so and to build and co-create a new type of partnership based on equality, a peoplecentred approach which focuses on human development and respects and enforces human rights is much needed.
Building resilient and peaceful states and societies that respect human rights and planetary boundaries, reduce poverty and inequalities, including gender inequality and gender-based violence, and secure equal opportunities and universal access to social protection, healthcare, education and nutritious food, to mention just a few objectives, should be at the core of the future partnership between the EU and Africa
A comprehensive, ambitious plan to advance human development and environmental and social justice should be developed as a concrete outcome of the EU-AU Summit. The plan should rely on three pillars: addressing structural inequalities, including gender inequalities;
strengthening links and coherence across policy sectors (e.g. education, health, food, social protection, trade, digitalisation); and meeting ODA commitments.
Meaningful engagement with civil society
We welcome the references in the Joint Communiqué to the value of ensuring an active engagement with civil society organisations. However, consultation in the lead-up to the Summit is sorely lacking, despite there having been one meeting with some CSO representatives before the Ministerial Meeting in Kigali. EU and African leaders have been silent on the matter of ensuring the active participation of civil society in the partnership between the EU and Africa, both ahead of and during the EU-AU Summit and as part of the implementation of the partnership itself. This demonstrates a blatant incoherence between discourse and actions.
If the EU is committed to create a collaborative, equal and sustainable partnership, each of its institutions and services, without exception, must reach out to civil society and listen to its recommendations; it is civil society that represents the voices of those who are often the most marginalised and the most impacted by decisions that EU and AU leaders take.
It is critically important that EU institutions and services and Member States involved in the preparation of the EU-AU Summit hold a formal consultation, in a timely manner, with those European and African civil society organisations that are eager to contribute to the preparation of the Summit’s outcome. Since it will feed into the political process ahead of the EU-AU Summit, it is also essential that the European Council place a people-centred approach and ensure meaningful engagement with civil society at the core of the Council Conclusions, which will be adopted at the meeting on 16 December. The Presidency of the European Council is a key ally to achieve this.
Proposed Action 1 – Partner with Africa to maximise the benefits of the green transition and minimise threats to the environment in full compliance with the Paris Agreement.
To do this, it is proposed that the EU supports the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions, help devise ambitious long-term strategies for reducing emissions and contribute to the development of national adaptation plans.
By supporting integrated national financing frameworks, the EU continues working with countries in their efforts to mobilise and align a wide range of financing sources with their sustainable development priorities. The EU should partner with Africa on green finance, on sustainable energy and energy efficiency through the launch of a ‘Green Energy’ initiative, building on the recommendations of the High Level Platform for Sustainable Energy Investments in Africa. The EU and Africa should also share experiences in managing a socially just transition away from fossil fuels. In partnership with Africa, the EU should encourage better ocean governance, including the development of a sustainable fisheries and blue economy. The EU is ready to scale up the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing to address the environmental threat it poses to the sustainability of fish stocks, the profits of fishermen and coastal communities who follow the rules.
Partners for digital transformation Access to safe and affordable digital services needs to be ensured for all through investment in infrastructure and reliable sources of electricity. Establishing a regulatory environment for competitive and harmonised regional connectivity markets is also key. Unfolding the potential benefits of digitalisation requires a robust regulatory framework, in areas such as data and consumer protection, digital financial services, cybercrime and e-governance. Specific policies are needed to ensure full digital inclusion and digital equality for women and marginalised communities.
Les Wathinotes sont soit des résumés de publications sélectionnées par WATHI, conformes aux résumés originaux, soit des versions modifiées des résumés originaux, soit des extraits choisis par WATHI compte tenu de leur pertinence par rapport au thème du Débat. Lorsque les publications et leurs résumés ne sont disponibles qu’en français ou en anglais, WATHI se charge de la traduction des extraits choisis dans l’autre langue. Toutes les Wathinotes renvoient aux publications originales et intégrales qui ne sont pas hébergées par le site de WATHI, et sont destinées à promouvoir la lecture de ces documents, fruit du travail de recherche d’universitaires et d’experts.
The Wathinotes are either original abstracts of publications selected by WATHI, modified original summaries or publication quotes selected for their relevance for the theme of the Debate. When publications and abstracts are only available either in French or in English, the translation is done by WATHI. All the Wathinotes link to the original and integral publications that are not hosted on the WATHI website. WATHI participates to the promotion of these documents that have been written by university professors and experts.