3 September 2021, Addis Ababa/Brussels/Maastricht/Pretoria — The COVID-19 health crisis and its devastating socioeconomic impact calls for stronger multilateralism and increased
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.
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 led governments across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to take a number of measures to battle the pandemic. Many of these actions directly related to religious practices such as the cancelation of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, closing down mosques and amending the call to prayer from the usual “hayya alas-salah” or “come to prayer” to “salu fi buyutikum” or “pray in your homes”.
The Covid-19 virus has caused a convulsive shock to the global economy. There remains considerable uncertainty around the pathway of the pandemic, the means and speed of any economic recovery and what structural changes – particularly to the globalisation of trade and capital – it will bring in the longer-term.
This note summarises and reflects on the different roles played by the African Union and a sample of the continent’s regional organisations in shaping collective, coordinated regional responses. It finds that the AU has played an effective role in communicating about and shaping African responses, with technical legitimacy provided through the Africa CDC. The AU has also been able to inspire collective action in a unified call for international solidarity.
Giulia Maci, Laure Criqui, Jean Bossuyt, Paola Lucci make the case for an European and African comprehensive urban strategy.
With a view to he upcoming AU Summit on 1-2 July in Nouakchott, Geert Laporte (ECDPM) examines the negotiating mandate of the ACP group.
Volker Hauck and Matthias Deneckere (ECDPM) write on how an off-budget European Peace Facility Instrument could support African-led peace initiatives.