A year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the conflict taking a center stage in the EU’s focus, Africa has felt the consequences of the war, while continuing to face wider existing challenges. This article looks further into the implications of the war against Ukraine for the Africa-Europe relationship.
The 6th EU-AU summit, held in Brussels on 17-18 February 2022, marked an important milestone
in the relationship between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU). After almost a
year and a half of delay, the summit provided leaders of both European and African countries
an opportunity to negotiate on a series of key topics that will shape the future of their relations.
Additionally, the summit provided a further opening for the regional bodies and their member
states to move away from an asymmetrical top-down relationship to a more vertical partnership
in which both sides negotiate deals based on sound analysis, trust and mutual respect.
Online panel discussion in the aftermath of the EU-AU summit.
Innovation for the energy transition is given a prominent role in the green recovery action plan for Africa and the European Union’s Green Deal, with both continents seeking the transformation of their economies to tackle both climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic impacts while improving wellbeing of the population. There are many points of overlap between the two continents’ official agendas. But there are also many open questions and potential tensions especially around: access to energy for sustainable and inclusive industrial development; maintaining competitive value chain; addressing trade barriers; promoting knowledge transfer while protecting intellectual property rights; using gas, and promoting hydrogen. If well-managed, innovation for the energy transition can act as catalyst for a shared prosperity for the two continents. This blogpost was written by the members of the Ukama Platform’s steering committee ahead of the European Union-Africa Union Summit.
European Think Tanks Group (ETTG), the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) joined forces to analyse divergences and seek consensus between the AU and the EU on key issues in the partnership. Drawing on roundtable discussions with experts from Africa and Europe, the group produced a series of policy briefs with proposals to strengthen the partnership between Africa and the EU on green transformation and climate change; economic development and trade; and participatory governance, peace and security. The briefs draw on contributions from more than 70 leading African and European independent experts, knowledge centres and think tanks that contributed reflections and suggested concrete policy recommendations.
Summits are an inevitable part of the international relations game. But each and every time they end up in disappointments because expectations were too high or longstanding frustrations and irritants on both sides were not openly addressed. To break with this pattern, the partnership should move from an asymmetrical top-down relationship to a more horizontal partnership where both parties negotiate deals on the basis of trust and mutual respect.
This brief identifies some of the shared priorities between Africa and the European Union (EU) as well as challenges in their partnership as it currently stands. It also suggests concrete ways forward to strengthen the economic development and trade agenda of the AU-EU cooperation and gives policy recommendations towards a more effective partnership.