Global Europe: Is the EU serious about engaging with Africa?
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The EU and African Union seek to make up for the time lost in 2020 by accelerating talks on a new strategic partnership covering political and economic cooperation. But some are asking whether the EU’s plan to strike a strategic partnership with Africa has become a “victim” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the field of competitors for investing in Africa becomes more crowded, the EU will quickly have to improve its offer if it wants to succeed in maintaining its position as the “priority partner”. The Portuguese government, holders of the current six-month rotating EU presidency, is taking an active part in preparing the 6th EU-African Union Summit and is anxious to conclude a mutually fruitful partnership by the summer.
There is however some scepticism among African politicians, businesses and civil society leaders that the rhetoric about partnership will be backed up. There has been some concern, particularly from civil society groups in Africa and Europe, that the EU executive has driven the agenda for the planned strategic partnership through the prism of the EU’s interests.
“Currently as we talk, Europe and Africa are not equal,” said Victoria Sekitoleko, a former agriculture minister of Uganda last November, pointing to unequal trade relations between the continents and continued migratory flows of thousands of the African continent’s most talented to Europe. “The biggest challenge for the EU and Africa is the youth (migration),” said Sekitoleko. “If this was a disease, we would call it an epidemic.”
Other political and business leaders have complained that trade deals are skewed in favour of Europe, preventing them from building up domestic processing industries, with the result that 70% of Africa’s exports to Europe are in raw materials, while Africa imports most of its manufactured goods.
The EU is looking to offer new sources of financial investment to Africa. The next seven-year EU budget proposed by the Commission is set to increase spending for Sub-Saharan Africa by 23%, from €26.1 billion to €32 billion. But is this enough?
Join this Virtual Conference to discuss the strategic moves the EU needs to make in order to push Africa up the EU agenda.
WATCH THE RECORDING HERE
[The “Energise Your Day” event series stimulates open debate on the most pressing issues facing Europe, and by extension, the world. Equinor and EURACTIV believe that reflection and exchange of different perspectives enhance our understanding of common challenges and promotes holistic, long-term thinking leading to solutions and action.]
Francesca Di Mauro, Deputy Director, Africa, Directorate-General for International Partnerships, European Commission
José Fernando Costa Pereira, Ambassador, Permanent Representative to the Political and Security Committee, Permanent Representation of Portugal to the EU
Tebatso Future Baleseng, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of Botswana
Vanessa Nakate, Climate Justice Activist, Uganda, Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals
Youssef Travaly, Senior Fellow for Digital, Africa Europe Foundation (AEF)
Olav Aamlid Syversen, Head of EU Affairs, Equinor
14:30 - 14:35 Welcome
14:35 – 14:55 Panellists statements
14:55 - 15:40 Discussion and Q&A
15:40 - 15:45 Closing statements
+32 (0)2 788 36 86
Africa’s version of the 'Kissinger question', which originally referred to who should be the United States’ first contact in Europe, is one of the issues that remain open as the EU and African leaders seek to develop a so called ‘strategic partnership’.