Practicality must guide EU-Africa relations

We live in difficult and turbulent times on the geopolitical scene. The major nations of the world move their pieces to assert their political, economic and military power. Each makes the most of its arsenal of weapons and its comparative advantages.

Europe and Africa are continents united by their history, their diversity, their proximity and the value of a multilateral approach to international relations. A solid cooperation strategy offers many mutual benefits and enables both continents to have stronger bargaining power with other players on the world stage. This will be further strengthened if cooperation simultaneously contributes to growth and sustainable development, to the fight against inequalities and poverty and improves the quality of life of their populations.

“A solid cooperation strategy offers many mutual benefits and enables both continents to have stronger bargaining power with other players on the world stage”

A strong strategy should be based on strong goals and clear, shared objectives that can make a positive difference for individuals and communities. The multilateral approach involves competitive partnerships that will be further enhanced by the political, economic, social and environmental value they bring.

The main differentiation of the pursuit of a partnership strategy of equals between Europe and Africa is the sharing of common values, which stand in the way of other strategic offers, based on growing links across unbalanced funding networks and power relations.

A values-based cooperation strategy must be pragmatic and effective in the way it implements action programmes. Transforming a donor-recipient relationship into a partnership of equals will require new forms of relationships. These relations would respect sovereignty and the institutional framework, would have repercussions on civil society, unite individuals in their desire to succeed and give new impetus to the perception of the issues.

Given the global nature of the challenges – including those posed by the digital transition, the energy transition, the fight against disinformation, radicalism and climate change – every euro the EU transparently invests in Africa will yield double in terms of progress. This will be seen in the twinned partnership through increased levels of investment, skills and competences, the creation of new markets as well as improved security and mobility.

Good governance, structural security and bilateral mobility are the pillars that will enable the new strategy to achieve its objectives of growth and sustainable development on both continents. In addition to the good management of resources, good governance must respond to vertical and horizontal fractures in access to the exercise and control of power.

It must avoid the creation of ethnic or other ghettos and prevent the deepening of the separation between elites and society in general, generating instead open networks of shared work within strong communities.

“Europe and Africa are continents united by their history, their diversity, their proximity and the value of a multilateral approach to international relations”

On the security level, mutual trust must allow the coordination and exchange of information, knowledge, logistical capacity and defense power, ensuring better conditions for conflict prevention and better responses to potential risks and insurgencies. .

In terms of mobility, the principles of humanitarianism and respect for life and dignity must be the basis for building bilateral relations. There should be flexible legal procedures that establish a common policy to deal with voluntary or involuntary migration and protect both continents from illegal migration networks.

Returning to the pragmatic approach that we have proposed, the five capacity building partnerships – namely for ecological transition and access to energy, digital transformation, sustainable growth and employment, peace and governance and migration and mobility – require the allocation of relevant funds for projects on the African continent.

Whether it is Global Europe (neighbourhood, development cooperation and international cooperation instrument), climate action funds in which the EU participates or public-private partnerships for investment and cooperation, the aim must be to make the environment more prepared as a sustainable partnership.

Encouraging the consolidation of the African Continental Free Trade Area as one of the pillars of the partnership implies that connections must also be improved in education, vocational training, health, renewable energies and science, and that the sustainable development should be encouraged.

The failure of Covid-19 vaccination efforts on the African continent is an example of mistakes that must not be repeated, but at the same time it will be a challenge to empower the continent to produce and vaccinate. his population. This will provide an example of what a pragmatic multilateral partnership in the service of the people should look like.

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