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.
European Think Tanks Group (ETTG) calls on the EU to look beyond its own economic recovery and to work with Africa as our ‘twin continent’ and ‘closest ally’ to avert the worst effects of the crisis and to craft a new partnership for the longer-term. History has taught us that major crises create opportunities for accelerating social, economic and political reforms. The coronavirus crisis provides an opportunity to finally transform the old paradigm of donor-recipient aid relations towards a model of genuine international cooperation between Europe and Africa.
Pandemic prevention and containment is a global public good, and its provision requires increased global coordination as well as adaptive, temporary, and coordinated decoupling. Cooperation can tackle cross-border health threats more effectively if well-known difficulties in coordination mechanisms, global governance and financing are addressed.
Twenty-twenty should have been the year of a fundamentally new Africa-Europe partnership, culminating in the sixth EU-AU summit in October in Brussels. Ursula von der Leyen, with a delegation of some 20 European commissioners in her wake, recently traveled to Addis Ababa for meetings with their African Union counterparts.
On 9-10 March, ETTG and UNDP Africa organised an Agenda setting workshop in Addis Ababa, aimed at discussing issues that would need further analysis and reflections in the run up to the African Union- European Union (AU-EU) Summit, slated for October 2020 in Brussels. This event coincided with the launch of the EU Communication towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa.
The multi-annual financial framework report was based on a previous physical workshop event which took place in Paris on January 2020 and which brought together key players in France to agree on the conditions allowing to secure an ambitious budget dedicated to external action (“Heading 6”), particularly for the challenges of sustainable development in southern countries. The workshop and the report was also an opportunity to reflect on the role of the European Union’s external action policy.
As a follow up to the ETTG Policy Brief “Harnessing EU external cooperation to boost ambitious and coherent climate action” and one month before the ETTG roundtable event ’How to walk the Green Deal talk in EU external cooperation? Harnessing development cooperation to foster European climate leadership‘ (18th March in Brussels) the DIE researchers from Steffen Bauer and Gabriela Iacobuta are putting together the pieces of the “Green Deal” puzzle in our new ETTG blog.
So, if Brexit is done and the question is “What’s next?,” the answer is, “Start talking and get to work.”