Author: European commission
Site of publication: European Commission
Type of publication: Article
Date of publication: 2022
The EU’s partnership with Africa is a key priority for the Commission. As Europe’s closest neighbour, Africa not only shares a rich history with EU countries, but also common values and interests. Through the Africa-EU partnership, we engage in political and policy dialogues, and define our cooperative relationship with Africa.
The partnership strives to bring Africa and Europe closer together by strengthening economic cooperation and promoting sustainable development, with both continents co-existing in peace, security, democracy, prosperity, solidarity and human dignity
The Africa-EU Partnership is a multi-actor partnership guided by the EU and African Union (AU) Member States along with several non-state and civil society organisations, youth bodies, economic and social actors, and the private sector. The renewed partnership is grounded in an ongoing dialogue with the EU’s African partners that is taken forward at the 6th EU-AU Summit in Brussels in February 2022.
The partnership strives to bring Africa and Europe closer together by strengthening economic cooperation and promoting sustainable development, with both continents co-existing in peace, security, democracy, prosperity, solidarity and human dignity. Against this backdrop, the two partners are determined to work together on a strategic, long-term footing to develop a shared vision for EU-Africa relations in a globalised world.
The European Commission and the European External Action Service’s vision of the future Africa-EU partnership is outlined in the Joint Communication ‘Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa’ and supported by Council Conclusions.
Within each partnership, the focus is on actions at continental and regional level where the EU and Africa have a collective capacity to deliver.
The Africa-EU Partnership was formally established in 2000 at the first Africa-EU Summit in Cairo. It is guided by the Joint Africa-EU strategy (JAES), adopted in 2007. To tackle the challenges of the times and set political priorities, the EU and African Union have been meeting over the years in different formats.
EU-AU summits of heads of states
The summits of EU and AU heads of states and governments take place traditionally every three years, alternating between Africa and Europe. These summits provide the political guidance for further work.
The AU-EU ministerial meetings take place on an ad-hoc basis to exchange views, take stock of the commitments and advance cooperation in certain fields.
The Commissioners of both the European Commission and the African Union Commission meet annually, alternating between the cities of Brussels and Addis Ababa. The participants monitor the progress achieved between summits and discuss how to improve the cooperation between the two institutions.
The European Parliament and Pan-African Parliament (PAP) meet regularly to evaluate the strong points and shortcomings of the existing partnership.
The Africa-EU Partnership focuses primarily on cooperation at a continental level and specifically the relationship between the European and African Unions. As such, it complements the EU’s existing frameworks of cooperation with sub-Saharan Africa and with the EU Neighbourhood at bilateral and regional levels
Non-state actors, such as civil society, local authorities, youth representatives and the private sector play an active role in the Africa-EU Partnership and its decision-making process. In preparation of the institutional meetings, various stakeholder groups meet on a regular basis to bring their views and recommendations to the table.
Young people are key drivers for change and are advocating to have a more active role in global issues. Decision-making bodies on both continents are reflecting on this call, and on ways for moving towards meaningful engagement and empowerment of their young population.
The Africa-EU Civil Society Forum is an integral part of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES). It gathers representatives of African and European Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), with the objective of bringing their views to European and African leaders on critical issues.
The first Africa-Europe Local and Regional Government Forum took place in Abidjan on 27 November 2017 to put the local government perspective on the agenda of the AU-EU Summit.
Private Sector: EU-Africa Business Forum
The EU-Africa Business Forum (EABF) provides an unrivalled occasion for high-level dialogue and networking, bringing together African and European business leaders to discuss how to improve the business and investment climate. Among these are multinational companies, large corporations, small and medium-scale enterprises and confederations, as well multilateral and regional institutions.
Complementarity with other cooperation frameworks
The Africa-EU Partnership, with its continental approach, is an instrument of political dialogue and cooperation, overarching and complementing existing development relationship frameworks between EU and African countries.
The Africa-EU Partnership focuses primarily on cooperation at a continental level and specifically the relationship between the European and African Unions. As such, it complements the EU’s existing frameworks of cooperation with sub-Saharan Africa and with the EU Neighbourhood at bilateral and regional levels.
Other existing frameworks go beyond the African continent, such as the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement – also known as the Cotonou Agreement concluded in 2000, which involves African countries, as well as the Pacific and Caribbean (ACP) Group of States.
On 3 December 2020, the EU and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) reached a political deal on a new agreement that succeeds the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. Marking the end of the negotiations, the ‘post-Cotonou’ agreement was initialled on 15 April 2021.
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