The European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) maintain a long-standing partnership on peace and security which can be qualified as constructive. It is largely based on joint interests and objectives and is less contentious compared to other more challenging topics, such as migration and trade. The EU’s new seven-year budget for 2021 – 2027 introduces new ways of working which impact on how the EU will engage on peace and security in Africa. Most notable in this regard is the establishment of the European Peace Facility (EPF) which can potentially undermine the AU’s role in leading and coordinating peace and security measures on the continent. Moreover, these new developments take place against the backdrop of an overall troubled EU-AU relationship which suffers not only from the divergences in interests in key areas such as migration, trade and climate but also from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and global geopolitics.
The Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) represents a fundamental reform for the European Union (EU)’s development policy, its neighbourhood policy and its external action more broadly. The new instrument will be implemented in a rapidly changing geopolitical context and will have to respond to unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The European Commission DG NEAR and the office of the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy released a new policy statement (‘Communication’) ‘Renewed Partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood: A New Agenda for the Mediterranean’ on 9 February 2021. The Communication was accompanied by a staff working document ‘Renewed Partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood Economic and Investment Plan for the Southern Neighbours’. The priorities outlined in the Communication and the investment Plan are to be concretised during 2021 as the new ‘Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), which will finance the EU’s international cooperation, is programmed during 2021.
The adoption of the EU’s Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 will bring profound changes to the set-up of the EU’s instruments for crisis prevention, conflict management and peacebuilding in fragile and conflict-affected countries, which aim to improve the EU’s ability to engage in these contexts. However, reforming the EU’s financial instruments alone is not sufficient to address key underlying challenges. What is needed is an overarching strategic framework that puts policy coherence for sustainable peace at the centre of EU crisis prevention, conflict management and peacebuilding.
It is vital for the EU-AU partnership to improve digital infrastructure development in Africa, particularly expanding fixed broadband coverage and access, as well as to improve African firms and consumers’ access to e-commerce platforms and provide targeted support for digital transformation in key sectors such as agriculture.
In this commentary Pauline Veron shares her takeaways from a recent high level DIE-ECDPM webinar event, with some key lessons for health cooperation between West Africa and the EU.
The development-security nexus has become a central concept for the European Union (EU) and other international actors. Key EU documents recognise the importance of the link between these two main domains of EU external affairs. This is part of a wider framework of the so-called triple nexus between humanitarian aid, development and security, which the European Commission aims to enhance to better respond to protracted crises.
This year was supposed to be crucial for Africa-Europe relations, culminating in the sixth AU-EU Summit, scheduled for 28 and 29 October in Brussels. But then COVID-19 happened. After a long palaver, a decision was finally taken: the summit will be postponed to 2021, although a date still needs to be fixed. Geert Laporte explains why postponing may not be such a bad thing.
COVID-19 has had far-reaching effects all over the world, the most visible of which on the world economy and public health. Could it also have an impact on Europe-Africa relations? With an EU-AU summit scheduled for late 2020, the pandemic will undoubtedly play a central role in it. Can the two continents avoid the usual aid mindset and move on to a more strategic one? Fernando Jorge Cardoso reflects on the nature of Europe-Africa relations since 2000 and argues that separating aid from strategy could help relaunch the relationship.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an additional layer of difficulty for refugees and asylum seekers, with frontline states like Greece facing unprecedented pressure in dealing simultaneously with a humanitarian crisis and the health crisis. The situation calls for EU states to speed up the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) since the current impasse is exacerbating the life conditions of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers.