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.
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.
Over the past few weeks, the EU has been mobilising its full firepower – including health coordination, economic measures and market regulation – to address the COVID-19 crisis within its borders. Yet, in facing a global pandemic that knows no borders, it is in Europe’s interest to mount an effective global response at scale.
As the Coronavirus pandemic expands, and peak contagion remains uncertain, policy responses are gradually emerging, being implemented in a number of domains.
The crisis has several important implications, but two are currently dominating the headlines: individual health and the sustainability of national healthcare systems, and the economic fallout from the pandemic.
The crisis linked to the CoVid-19 epidemic now plunges all societies in the world into a state of exception and a strange war made of both a sanitary emergency and a suspended time, for an indefinite period. Each individual and each organisation is now making arrangements until further notice, with the shared feeling of a long period of uncertainty and deep questioning about the very foundations of our societies, our economies, and our ways of living together: our view of the world will necessarily be profoundly modified.
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.
With the global economy going into a steep recession, developing countries are facing considerable financing shortfalls. Confronted with its most severe crisis since WWII, Europe needs to adopt a global perspective, as it cannot successfully address it in isolation. There is a moral imperative to help vulnerable people in distress and foster global solidarity to prevent catastrophic outcomes.
Rising case numbers are highlighting how the coronavirus crisis is escalating, both globally and in Germany. Some people have already begun to ask themselves a delicate question: besides the medical and societal challenges brought on by the pandemic, could we also find new forms of cooperation? Might we also take a different approach to other global problems afterwards?
The Spanish flu was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, claiming up to 50 million lives worldwide between 1918 and 1919. It has many parallels with the current coronavirus and the international community would do well to learn from such past pandemics. For every flu death back then, four people survived, but became impoverished. In order to prevent such a scenario, we need to act now to utilise and adapt social protection systems to provide rapid, non-bureaucratic assistance to people.
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.