Europe–Africa relations are facing a double challenge – the COVID-19 pandemic puts social and economic systems under strain at a point when the consequences of the climate crisis are being increasingly felt on both continents. Within Africa and Europe, debates have started about recovery measures to address the pandemic’s short and medium-term socio-economic consequences. A key question in these debates is how to “build back better” and use the crisis to promote green transitions and move towards more sustainable development pathways.
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.
Multilateralism has been in trouble for a while, particularly at the global level. Yet, the European Union (EU) and its member states have remained among its staunchest supporters.In their June 2019 Council Conclusions, EU leaders drew the outlines of a common European vision to uphold, extend and reform the multilateral system. Against an increasingly complex and contested geopolitical backdrop, these goals were further developed in the recent EU Communication on Multilateralism, published in February 2021.
In this guest contribution for ECDPM, Dr Jide Martyns Okeke argues that collective African leadership and deliberate investments in boosting intra-African trade and digital transformation could accelerate the quest for silencing the guns on the continent.
This briefing note looks at the challenges ahead for large-scale vaccination, as part of our series of looking at the longer term effects of COVID-19 on conflict and fragility in Africa. We ask some of the hard questions about the potential repercussions for highly fragile situations in Africa and what it might mean for the European Union’s role in the global response to the pandemic.
The unprecedented scale of the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic calls for greater empowerment of international, European and regional financial institutions for development, development finance institutions (DFIs) and public development banks. They all need to step up their efforts, to ‘build back better’, in a greener, more inclusive and gender-sensitive manner. This paper suggests ways to do that, adjusting the current business model of financial institutions for development to align and coordinate European investments for development.
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.
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.
Although it is too early to fully assess the magnitude of the impact of COVID-19 on fragility and conflict in Africa, the pandemic is presenting long-term socio-economic and political challenges which could have long-lasting implications for fragility and security in Africa in 2021 and beyond.
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.