Author: Olukayode Bakare
Site of publication: Open Journal of Social Sciences
Type of publication: Article
Date of publication: June 27, 2019
The European Union (EU) is a supranational, intergovernmental decision-making institution established to foster deep economic co-operation and political integration between European countries. Nigeria’s relations with the EU dated to the 1970s when it led a group of forty-six African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) during the negotiation between the European Economic Community (EEC) (now EU), which culminated in the formation of the ACP-EEC Lomé Convention on 28 February 1975, in Lomé, Togo.
The Lomé Convention of 1975 created an institutional platform of a very significant North-South solidarity and dialogue that could be explored through an effective leadership, facilitate economic cooperation and development between the EEC and the EU, though the partnership agreement was only partially completed in 2011 and remained a subject of controversy and contradiction. However, the most far-reaching and recent agreement signed between the EU and Nigeria was the 2000 Cotonou Agreement. It represents the most comprehensive regional and partnership agreement between developing countries and the European Union. Since 2000, the agreement has been a policy framework for the EU’s partnership with 79 countries from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP), Asia and Latin America, Mediterranean countries and the Middle East and Eastern neighboring countries, to facilitate socio-economic and political integrations. Although, Nigerian relations with the EU had improved following its return to civil rule in 1999, the relationship has always been asymmetrical and predicated on the motivation of the European Union to advance its strategic interests in Nigeria.
The main reason for embarking on this research is to investigate Nigerian diplomatic relations with the EU and the EU’s strategic interest in Nigeria following its return to democracy in 1999. For example, Istifanus Zabadi noted that “when military rule was replaced with democratic rule in May 1999, a new multilateral diplomacy had to be embarked upon’’. After Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, the international context required the country to engage constructively with the global community in respect to challenges of peace, security, development and democratization at home and across Africa.
Nigeria-EU Relations: Democracy and Good Governance
Following the return of Nigeria to civilian government in 1999, Nigeria has consistently repositioned itself in the EU to advance its national interests. For example, in 2009, the two parties signed the Nigeria-EU Joint Way Forward which highlights guidelines for developmental co-operation; focusing on certain priority areas: peace and security, good governance and human rights, trade and energy, although the logic of the EU partnership and interests in Nigeria since 1999 seems to be based on purely strategic objectives of the EU interests in Nigeria.
The most far reaching and recent treaty on democracy and good government was the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000 between the EU and the ACP. Article 9 of the Cotonou Agreement affirms that respect for human rights, democracy and good governance are anchored on the rule of law; “transparent and accountable governance is an integral part of sustainable development”. Similarly, the EU Africa Strategy 2005, which aims to provide a comprehensive integrated approach for EU-African relations, also emphasizes “good and effective governance” as a “central prerequisite for sustainable development”. In contrast to this, however, previous analysis of the EU’s commitment to the promotion of democracy and good governance in ACP has suggested an inconsistent engagement with this principle by the EU. In fact, the EU tends to prioritize its strategic interests when democratization processes and good governance in Member States seem to clash and be asymmetrical with its own policy objectives. The EU’s continued relations, at various points, with several countries in Africa, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Chad, where dubious elections have taken place, demonstrates the EU’s inability, or disinterest, in upholding article 9, which specifies respect for the rule of law and good government. In respect to Nigeria, Anna Khakee noted that promotion of democracy and good governance tended not to be the top priority of EU-Nigerian relations, but rather oil and trade relations.
Following the return of Nigeria to civilian government in 1999, Nigeria has consistently repositioned itself in the EU to advance its national interests. For example, in 2009, the two parties signed the Nigeria-EU Joint Way Forward which highlights guidelines for developmental co-operation; focusing on certain priority areas: peace and security, good governance and human rights, trade and energy, although the logic of the EU partnership and interests in Nigeria since 1999 seems to be based on purely strategic objectives of the EU interests in Nigeria
Political problems including migration, Nigeria’s status as a regional power, the country’s weak internal political system and the EU’s own economic and political interests have also compromised the EU’s engagement in the promotion of Nigerian democracy. For example, the 2007 general election, which was considered by the international community as the most fraudulent election conducted in Nigeria, did not attract any suspension of aid or invocation of the Cotonou Agreement either by the European Commission, European Council or EU Member States. The constitutional amendment of the third term bid of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005-2007 and the compromised position of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cast doubt on how the EU treats undemocratic states.
Nigeria-EU Relations: Developmental and Economic Aid
In the past decade, several events and actions have characterized EU-Nigerian (EU-African) relations beyond the consideration of the promotion of democracy and good governance in Nigeria. At the international level, global inequality and the need to improve basic livelihoods became the key focus of the international community, as encapsulated in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the creation of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA). In sub-Saharan Africa, the emergence of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS created a constructive platform for international donors to render economic development aid to Africa. Following the return of Nigeria to democracy in 1999, which also coincided with the creation of the economic strategies of NEPAD, championed by Thabo Mbeki, the quest for developmental economic aid from the international donors within the EU became the top priority of African leaders as an integral part of the AU’s aim to reduce poverty in Africa. The EU development assistance to Nigeria is derived from its regional status as the most populous country in Africa and as an important regional actor in regional security and economic development in West African sub-region.
The European Commission and the British government stand as the only two European donors of any significant measure. In 2003, Britain allocated $43 million compared to $10 million donated by the commission for the period 2001-07. UK development initiatives are therefore the largest of the EU, at a projected EUR400 million for 2001-11.
Nigeria-EU: Military Co-Operation
The 2016 European Union Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel emphasized security as an essential factor to strengthen African countries economies and to reduce poverty on the continent. The key nexus between development and security is also predicated on support for good democratic governance which is couched as “fundamental for poverty reduction” and whose absence is part of the “root causes of violence conflicts and development”. Instability and conflicts in Africa thus pose a range of threats and security challenges for Europe. Africa’s extremism, terrorism and vastly increasing migration through the Mediterranean Sea, as well as cross-border crimes, all have divergent implications for security in Europe. By demographic trends, Africa has the world’s fast-growing population and lack of economic fortune in many African nations ensures that the urge to travel in search of better prospects in Europe will persist. The European Union (EU) has an inherent and considerable interest in a stable Africa and especially in Nigerian stability.
European Union interests in the Nigerian security architecture describe Nigeria as an important regional economic partner for the European Union’s economic investments in Africa. The European Union (EU) is a major importer of Nigerian oil and gas exports (around 20% of crude oil and 80% of gas) and a major current and potential investor in Nigeria.
The need to protect the Gulf of Guinea (the volatile oil region) and to encourage stable regional partners for its own wellbeing is imperative for the EU and its member states. Threats to peace and development such as extreme poverty, climate change, frequent food crises, rapid population growth, fragile governance, corruption, unresolved internal tensions, violent extremism and radicalization, illicit trafficking, and illegal cross-border movements originating from Nigeria are potentially destabilizing for European security. The EU security interest in Nigeria further focuses on terrorist threats, including Boko Haram.
Energy and Trade
Another key area of EU strategic relation with the Nigerian state has to do with the energy sector and trade. The European Union’s energy interests in Nigeria rest on three fundamental objectives: sustainability, competitiveness and security. Nigeria has the second largest oil reserves in Africa after Libya and is the second largest primary oil producer in Africa. The country’s 37.2 billion barrels of oil reserves rank it among the top 10 countries in terms of oil reserves globally. In 2011, Nigeria’s oil production capacity was around 3.23 million bpd. In fact, Nigeria’s largest crude oil export destinations include Canada, France, China, Italy, Indonesia, India, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom. India remains the highest and most consistent buyer of Nigeria’s crude oil with 16.2 billion barrels in January 2016. Despite weak historical links with Nigeria, France still has a strong energy interest in Nigeria. On October 20, 2015, France donated $170 million which was aimed at improving the power supply for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
European Union interests in the Nigerian security architecture describe Nigeria as an important regional economic partner for the European Union’s economic investments in Africa. The European Union (EU) is a major importer of Nigerian oil and gas exports (around 20% of crude oil and 80% of gas) and a major current and potential investor in Nigeria
The French government also signed an agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria to build a 35 million Euro (N$8 billion) 13 megawatts solar plant in Osun state, Nigeria. In addition, about 12% of the UK’s crude oil imports currently emanate from Nigeria, with the UK Chamber of Commerce commenting on the increasing rate of piracy and threats in the region. The UK Chamber of Commerce argues that the levels of threats in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria heavily expose the UK economy to lawlessness off the coast of Nigeria. Equally, German energy interests in Nigeria have been unveiled in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Nigeria’s quest to expand its Liquefied Natural Gas market into Europe was underpinned by a German delegation to Nigeria.
Nigeria will continue to remain a global important producer of oil and natural gas for the EU. The oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria provides lucrative opportunities to the European Community and affects the world economic market, thus making Nigeria potentially one of the richest economies in sub-Saharan Africa, with lucrative and enticing market opportunities for the private sector in telecommunications, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and defense.
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