Author: European commission
Type of publication: Joint communication
Date of publication: 2020
Towards a comprehensive strategy with Africa Africa is Europe’s closest neighbour. The ties that bind Africa and the European Union (EU) are broad and deep as a result of history, proximity and shared interests. With the 6th Summit between the African Union (AU) and the EU and the conclusion of the negotiations of the new partnership agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, 2020 will be a pivotal year in living up to our ambition of an even stronger partnership. In Africa, new prospects and challenges are emerging from economic, political, social, technological, demographic, climate and environmental changes. We need to partner with Africa, our twin continent, to tackle together the challenges of the 21st century and to further our common interests and future.
Africa, in all its diversity, is home to over 1 billion people. It boasts the youngest, fastestgrowing middle-class in the world. Africa’s young people have the potential to transform their continent’s political, economic and social prospects, but for this they need decent jobs, a place in society, access to social services, energy and infrastructure, and an active role in determining their countries’ future. In particular, African women are key drivers of sustainable growth, development and peace. Responding to their aspirations will determine the future of the continent.
Africa has been recording steady economic growth. In 2018, six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world were African. Thirty African States are middle-income or highincome countries. The continent’s economic expansion has the potential to accelerate and drive broader social and human development with new opportunities arising from the digital transformation, the demographic dividend, low-cost renewable energy, the green transition and a low-carbon, blue and circular economy. This reflects the vision of the African leaders transformative initiatives, including the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the African Continental Free Trade Area, the African Visa-free Area, a Single African Digital Market and the Single African Air Transport Market.
At the same time, a number of challenges remain. Thirty-six of the world’s most fragile countries are in Africa, often weakened by conflicts. The continent hosts 390 million people living below the poverty line. Growth has not always been inclusive, notably due to governance challenges. Africa, as the rest of the world, is also affected by the consequences of climate change, environmental degradation and pollution. The EU and Africa can work together to seize the opportunities and address these challenges and develop actions that ensure stability, peace, security, human rights, democracy, gender equality, sustainable livelihoods, sustainable economic growth based on healthy ecosystems, social cohesion and good governance.
At the same time, a number of challenges remain. Thirty-six of the world’s most fragile countries are in Africa, often weakened by conflicts. The continent hosts 390 million people living below the poverty line. Growth has not always been inclusive, notably due to governance challenges. Africa, as the rest of the world, is also affected by the consequences of climate change, environmental degradation and pollution.
To strengthen the EU’s strategic alliance with Africa, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union are proposing to engage discussions with African partners in view of jointly defining at the upcoming EU-AU Summit a new comprehensive EU strategy with Africa that could be built on five partnerships:
- A partnership for green transition and energy access;
- A partnership for digital transformation;
- A partnership for sustainable growth and jobs;
- A partnership for peace and governance; and
- A partnership on migration and mobility.
This new strategy and these partnerships are in line with the common priorities set by the EU and the African Union at the 2017 Summit in Abidjan. It takes inspiration notably from the very fruitful discussions between the European Commission and the African Union Commission, which took place in Addis Ababa on 27 February 2020 and reflects the EU’s proposals for the ongoing exchanges with African partners in view of defining a joint partnership agenda at the upcoming EU-AU Summit in October 2020. EU-Africa engagement will continue at bilateral, regional and continental level.
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.
It is estimated that a 10% increase in digital coverage could result in an increase of over 1% in African GDP. Through adequate reforms and investments to support the African aspirations to build a single African digital market, and building on a new digital transformation strategy, Africa can harness digitalisation as a driver for growth across all sectors of the economy. Digital infrastructures and support for digital entrepreneurship and innovation have the potential to provide much-needed jobs for the 15 to 20 million young people who are entering the workforce every year.
Digital transformation can also modernise traditional sectors such as agriculture; improve access to quality services; increase public revenue; and make the public sector more transparent and accountable, thereby enhancing public trust in governments. It can also transform the delivery of public services, including education, training, energy and healthcare, including improving access to health services in remote areas and by facilitating diagnostics and treatments. E-governance will protect consumers and privacy and support the fight against corruption. E-commerce and digital financial services have the potential to boost Africa’s economic integration by improving access to goods and services across the continent. Digital services can also increase access to transaction accounts and digital finance solutions for banking, insurance or payment services, including remittances.
Proposed Action 2 – Partner with Africa to boost the continent’s digital transformation
This requires focus on regulatory convergence, including strengthening personal data protection, investment in key enabling sustainable infrastructure, the digitalisation of public administrations for the provision of e-services, greater education and training opportunities as well as increasing secure data flows. The EU should also pursue its cooperation with Africa on artificial intelligence, which should be responsibly developed and used.
Sustainable investments Public and private investments are crucial to stimulating entrepreneurship and sustainable economic diversification. The focus should be: core quality infrastructure that is climate-resilient; access to finance; better data to help identify the most efficient and effective deployment of new sustainable energy sources; the development of a value-adding private sector with high potential for economic growth and the creation of decent jobs. With a foreign direct investment stock reaching EUR 222 billion, the EU is the largest investor in Africa, well ahead of the United States (EUR 42 billion) or China (EUR 38 billion). Under the umbrella of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, EU instruments, such as the External Lending Mandate, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Investment Facility and, more recently, the European External Investment Plan, have unlocked considerable investments in Africa. These include investments in transport, clean energy and agricultural sectors and in private sector development. Africa and the EU need to continue working together to further accelerate such sustainable investments.
Regional and continental economic integration
Moving economic integration forward at regional and continental levels is an essential component of a coherent, sustainable economic strategy. We welcome the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in force since May 2019 – which creates significant momentum for continental integration – and the ultimate ambition of a continental single market. It will increase intra-African trade, including with countries in North Africa, diversify exports, and improve product quality and safety. Building reliable and sustainable continental energy, transport and digital systems for people, businesses and industries will support the development of value chains that can contribute to an African Continental Free Trade Area. The EU and the African Union have a common interest in a stable, rules-based multilateral trading system centred on the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Proposed Action 3 – Partner with Africa to substantially increase environmentally, socially and financially sustainable investments that are resilient to the impacts of climate change; to promote investment opportunities by scaling up the use of innovative financing mechanisms8 ; and to boost regional and continental economic integration, particularly through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement
The latter will be done by making political, technical and financial support for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (for which EU support already grew from EUR 12.5 million in 2014-2017 to EUR 60 million in 2018-2020) a top priority. We are ready to share our customs union and single market experience. Cooperation on the strategic corridors that facilitate intra-African and Africa-Europe trade and investment, and improve sustainable, efficient, and safe connectivity between both continents, will also be enhanced by the longterm prospect of creating a comprehensive continent-to-continent free-trade area. EU business associations can play an important role in the Business Forum organised in the margins of the upcoming AU-EU Summit. Cooperation and dialogue, business partnerships along critical value chains, as well as the deepening of Economic Partnership Agreements, and other EU trade agreements with African partner countries, are the tools through which this can be achieved.
Policy reform is also essential in key areas such as: governance; rule of law; the judicial system; public financial management, (including quality and effectiveness of public expenditure); debt management; transparent public procurement; competition; standards and trade facilitation; investment frameworks and green growth taxation. This also includes the fight against corruption, fraud, illicit financial flows, money laundering and terrorism financing.
Proposed Action 4 – Partner with Africa to attract investors by supporting African states in adopting policies and regulatory reforms that improve the business environment and investment climate, including a level-playing field for business
With this in mind, it is proposed that the EU develops more ambitious arrangements to facilitate, attract and support investment in Africa. The EU should further develop the use of platforms such as the Sustainable Business for Africa Platform and the International Platform on Sustainable Finance. In parallel, it is important to promote regulatory reforms and to strengthen the institutional capacity of public authorities, business organisations and entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs, while reinforcing capacity-building related to SME access to markets and finance. In this respect, European business organisations should continue to support entrepreneurship in Africa.
Education, skills, research, innovation, health and social rights Investing in people, in particular in youth, is of paramount importance for building an even stronger partnership between our two continents. Within the next 15 years, some 375 million young people are expected to reach working age in Africa. Currently less than 10% of African 18-24 year olds are enrolled in some form of postsecondary education or training. Providing young people with education, training and skills and preparing them for the new opportunities of the future labour market is a common strategic priority. In order for young women and men to fully reap economic opportunities, they will need greater access to inclusive and equitable quality education, including higher education, learning and training opportunities. This requires that special attention be paid to girls and women. Supporting women’s empowerment requires tackling discriminatory regulations and practices and making sure that they have access to knowledge, skills, microcredit and finance for entrepreneurship.
Proposed Action 5 –– Partner with Africa to rapidly enhance learning, knowledge and skills, research and innovation capacities, particularly for women and youth, protecting and improving social rights, and eradicating child labour
It is proposed that the EU scales up EU-Africa academic and scientific cooperation, including on technical and vocational education and training, and enhancing skills development (also in association with EU businesses) with a view to creating a knowledge society and economy. The EU should facilitate the mobility of students, teachers, trainers, and researchers. The EU should also support capacity building within Africa; quality training for teachers; the development of research and innovation capacities; harnessing the interaction between education, science, technology and innovation for improved learning. Besides, the EU should seek to engage in labour dialogues with African countries to protect social rights, and, in particular, to eradicate child labour. The EU proposes to upgrade its support to the strengthening of health systems.
Education, skills, research, innovation, health and social rights Investing in people, in particular in youth, is of paramount importance for building an even stronger partnership between our two continents. Within the next 15 years, some 375 million young people are expected to reach working age in Africa. Currently less than 10% of African 18-24 year olds are enrolled in some form of postsecondary education or training. Providing young people with education, training and skills and preparing them for the new opportunities of the future labour market is a common strategic priority
Partners for peace, security, governance and resilience Ensuring long-lasting peace and security in Africa is as much in Africa’s interest as it is in the EU’s. Peace and security are key conditions for sustainable development. While the objective is to achieve peace and security throughout Africa, efforts should be made in priority in regions where tensions are the highest. African states, supported by regional and continental organisations, bear the main responsibility to act, as they are the foremost guarantors of their own security. But the EU is willing to markedly step up its support to Africa in cooperation with the international community. Resilience should in particular be at the heart of African and EU efforts to address protracted conflict and fragility.
Peace and security
While many good results have been achieved through the EU-Africa partnership on peace and security – notably captured in the EU-AU Memorandum of Understanding on Peace, Security and Governance – the complexity of the efforts and the deteriorating situation in certain regions require us to markedly step up our engagement together. This means also working with international partners, notably the United Nations. The AU-led “Silencing the Guns” initiative is important in this context. EU instruments and African capacities should be further aligned. There is a clear need to review and further strengthen our cooperation in a more strategic and tailored way, based on mutual commitments, accountability and ownership. Despite progress on the AU Peace Fund, the financing of African-led peace support initiatives, including through UN-assessed contributions, remains to be addressed. The EU and Africa also need to adapt their way of working together in fragile areas in order to have an impact on governance at the local level.
Proposed Action 6 – Partner with Africa to adapt and deepen the EU’s support to African peace efforts through a more structured and strategic cooperation, with a particular focus on regions where tensions and vulnerabilities are the highest.
The EU proposes to strengthen its ongoing efforts in ensuring compliance with human rights, protection of civilians and international humanitarian law. Actions will be carried out in close cooperation with EU Member States, the African Union, African regional organisations, the UN and other key partners – including through trilateral AU-EU-UN cooperation. Special attention will also be paid to the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda. The EU should adapt and deepen its support to African peace efforts with a focus on an integrated approach to conflict and crises, acting at all stages of the conflict cycle, investing in prevention fight against radicalisation, resolution and stabilisation and better linking humanitarian, development, peace and security efforts.
Governance, democracy, human rights and the rule of law
Security and development can only be sustainable in the long term when rooted in full respect of human rights without discrimination on any ground, democratic principles, gender equality and the rule of law. Recognising that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated, the EU, and African countries are committed to promoting and protecting all human rights and fundamental freedoms globally. Good governance, effective and inclusive economic, social, education and health policies, equal access to basic social services, equal access to and fair redistribution of resources, equal access to justice and open and inclusive societies foster peace and stability and act as a foundation for jobs and growth, attracting investment. The safeguard and protection of children’s rights merits particular attention.
Proposed Action 7 – Partner with Africa on integrating good governance, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and gender equality in action and cooperation
The EU seeks to continue supporting credible, inclusive and transparent electoral and democratic processes, including through increased coordination between the AU and EU on electoral observations and their follow-up. The EU also intends to step up cooperation on democratic governance and rule of law on both continents, including accountability and transparency of public institutions; independent and impartial justice, corruption and transnational crimes as well as trafficking in human beings. The EU should support concrete initiatives to reinforce civil society organisations and human rights defenders; to end impunity, ensure redress for victims, and foster reconciliation. Initiatives will be undertaken for and with women and youth (including children), supporting their economic empowerment, ensuring their active involvement in decision-making processes of civic and political life, promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights, and preventing and eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, including conflictrelated sexual and gender-based violence.
Proposed Action 8 – secure resilience by linking humanitarian, development, peace and security interventions at all stages of the cycle of conflicts and crises.
Partners on migration and mobility Demographic trends, the aspiration for economic opportunity and political stability, flight from crises and conflicts, and adaptation to climate change and environmental degradation, all mean that the levels of migration and forced displacement will continue to pose both challenges and opportunities for our two continents. Well-managed migration and mobility can have a positive impact on countries of origin, transit and destination alike. African migration and mobility flows are largely intra-African and regimes for free movement are being put in place at both regional and continental level. Some African Union Member States host a substantial number of migrants, refugees and forcibly displaced persons and thus face significant challenges and opportunities. Migration also represent challenges and opportunities for EU Member States.
Strengthened engagement to prevent irregular migration and putting an end to the loss of life at sea is needed. This includes stepping up the fight against the smuggling of migrants, with an emphasis on addressing the role of criminal networks and should go hand in hand with the fight against trafficking in human beings. Capacity building for effective migration management, including effective border management is particularly important, and the EU should continue to support African partners in this area. Further action is also needed to tackle the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement building on the varied support provided through the EU Trust Fund for Africa.
Proposed Action 9 – Partner with Africa to ensure a balanced, coherent and comprehensive approach to migration and mobility
This will be done by embedding migration and mobility in a balanced manner in our overall partnership at all levels. We will pursue a ‘whole-of-route’ approach, working with countries of origin, transit and destination. A strong focus on improving migration governance, partner countries’ ability to better manage their borders, strengthening capacities and evidence-based cooperation will also be applied. At continental level, the EU proposes to put in place a joint framework for the Continent-toContinent Migration and Mobility Dialogue and continue to enhance the AU-EU-UN trilateral cooperation, building on the successful experience of the Task Force on Migration. At regional level, the EU proposes to advance the implementation of the Joint Valletta Action Plan and the Khartoum and Rabat processes together with the AU, the UN, the EU Member States and regional organisations. At bilateral level, the EU should develop tailor-made dialogues and partnerships as part of its overall relationships with African countries. It is important to ensure the complementarity and the added value of the existing and future cooperation frameworks.
Proposed Action 10 – Partner with Africa to strengthen the international rules-based order and the multilateral system, with the UN at its core
Regular political dialogues with African counterparts on cooperation in the multilateral system at bilateral level and within the UN, should address issues ranging from new global challenges to cooperation on UN Security Council-related matters. The EU should endeavour to establish a more structured trilateral AU-EU-UN cooperation across areas of mutual interest. It should also support necessary reforms and modernisation of existing multilateral institutions to ensure that they are fit for purpose. With a view to supporting efforts to give a stronger voice to Africa in the UN, international financial institutions and other multilateral organisations, the EU supports the AU’s application for enhanced observer status in the WTO.
At bilateral level: intensifying cooperation with Africa the AU-EU
Heads of State and Government summits and ministerial meetings will provide political steering to EU cooperation with Africa. Coherence should be ensured between this strategy and the legally binding agreements between the EU and African countries, both through the protocol covering Sub-Saharan African countries under the new partnership agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States as well as through the association agreements between the EU and North African countries. Such coherence will be ensured by building on the existing governance structures, such as the summits, ministerial meetings, Commission-to-Commission and the Political/Peace and Security Committees. It should also open dialogues with key actors, such as young people, women, business leaders, civil society organisations, academia and think tanks.20 The EU should be ready to support the institutional reform process initiated by the AU. The EU should also continue to work with the diasporas to enhance the different ways in which they can contribute.
Beyond formal dialogues, the EU and Africa should seek ways to intensify people-to-people contacts through exchange programmes, joint research activities or twinning initiatives between academic and cultural institutions, private sector, businesses, agencies and utilities, parliaments, local authorities or cities and regions. The EU proposes to work with its African partners to address fragility, enhance resilience and use the tools at its disposal in a coherent way. Facilities should support political and policy dialogue through the rapid mobilisation of specific expertise and the creation of knowledge platforms accessible to the various stakeholders. The successful experience of the Sectoral Task Forces set up under the AfricaEurope Alliance for sustainable investment and jobs should be continued and possibly replicated. Exchanges of best practices and expertise should be promoted.
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