Laying the foundation for a solid AU–EU partnership 

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Ahead of this week’s AU-EU summit, three organisations advise on how to achieve consensus on a new continental strategy.

The much-anticipated 6th African Union (AU) – European Union (EU) summit in Brussels from 17-18 February will be a milestone in relations between Europe and Africa. 

Since September 2021, the European Think Tanks Group (ETTG), the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have collaborated to advise on a new strategy. 

The aim of the AU and EU should be ‘to move from an asymmetrical top-down relationship to a more horizontal partnership where both parties negotiate deals on the basis of sound analysis, trust and mutual respect.’ says ETTG Director Geert Laporte. He also adds that ‘summits are an inevitable part of the international relations game, each time they end up in disappointments because expectations were too high or longstanding frustrations and irritants on both sides were not openly addressed.’

The three organisations joined forces to analyse divergences and seek consensus between the AU and the EU on key issues. Drawing on roundtable discussions with experts from Africa and Europe, a series of policy briefs were produced that advise on how to strengthen the partnership on green transformation and climate change, economic development and trade, and participatory governance, peace and security. 

More than 70 leading African and European independent experts, knowledge centres and think tanks contributed to the recommendations in the briefs. 

In the area of economic development, Africa’s aspirations for industrialisation, job creation, regional integration and inclusive green transformation agendas need to be supported as a global public good. 

On security and governance, the AU has made progress towards financial autonomy with the creation of the AU Peace Fund. However, it continues to rely on external partners such as the EU including through the newly created European Peace Facility. 

AU–EU cooperation can add value in managing fair transitions towards green economies and clean energy in line with the Paris Agreement, Africa’s growing population and increasing need for decent jobs and social inclusion. 

The policy briefs will contribute to a volume that takes stock of the results of the EU-AU summit and will be presented during a joint ETTG, ISS Africa and UNDP event in spring 2022.


Focal Points

Geert Laporte (ETTG)

Ottilia Maunganidze (ISS)

Jide Okeke (UNDP)


Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash.

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