Why is Europe better than Africa


Relations between the EU and Africa are regulated by the Cotonou Agreement and the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, which encompass both political, economic and development-related dimensions. The EU is actively involved in promoting peace and security in Africa and has various political dialogues with the African Union (AU), including on issues such as democracy and human rights. Migration has now become an integral part of relations between the EU and Africa. The EU's development cooperation with Africa is still mainly carried out through the European Development Fund.

Legal bases

The Cotonou Agreement

Relations between the EU and Sub-Saharan Africa are currently governed by the Cotonou Agreement, which forms the basis for relations between the EU and 78 ACP countries. South Sudan has not signed the agreement.

Relations between the EU and the ACP group go back to the Lomé I to IV Conventions (1975 to 2000), which decided on development cooperation and established trade provisions, on the basis of which 99.5% of goods from ACP countries were based have free access to the European market. The Lomé Convention was followed by the Cotonou Convention, which was signed on June 23, 2000 for a period of 20 years. The aim of the Cotonou Agreement is to eradicate poverty by better integrating the ACP countries into the world economy. The term “partnership” is used in the agreement, which emphasizes mutual commitment and shared responsibility; the importance of political dialogue, human rights, democracy and good governance is also highlighted. The implementation of the agreement is guaranteed by the joint institutions of the ACP group and the EU - the Council of Ministers, the Committee of Ambassadors and the Joint Parliamentary Assembly. The Cotonou Agreement was revised twice, in 2005 and 2010. The European Parliament agreed to ratify the 2010 revised version in June 2013, but expressed its strong reservations about elements of the Agreement that “do not reflect the position of the European Parliament and reflect the values ​​of the Union ”. In particular, Parliament criticized the fact that no explicit clause prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was included.

As the Cotonou Agreement expires in 2020, discussions are currently underway on the legal framework for the period after that. The Commission launched a reflection process in 2015, which included public consultation and evaluation. This culminated in the publication of a joint communication in November 2016 listing different options for future policy. In October 2016, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the future of ACP-EU relations after 2020. The Commission's communication was followed by a proposal for the negotiating directives in December 2017. This document was discussed in Parliament in the first half of 2018 and a resolution was adopted on 14 June 2018 expressing Parliament's position. This process culminated in the EU negotiating mandate issued in June 2018, one month after the ACP negotiators received their mandate. The dialogue started in October 2018 and the rounds of negotiations are likely to last well into 2021. The result could be the creation of a three-pillar structure corresponding to the geographic areas of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, with an overarching ACP superstructure, but it remains unclear how this will be implemented institutionally in practice and what type of parliamentary structure should go hand in hand with it.

The Joint Africa-EU Strategy

The joint Africa-EU strategy is decisive for the EU's policy towards all 54 African countries. This strategy was adopted by European and African heads of state and government in Lisbon in December 2007. This Joint Strategy aims to bring Africa-EU relations to a new strategic level with a stronger political partnership and improved cooperation at all levels. The goal is,

  • extending Africa-EU relations beyond development cooperation to include issues of mutual political interest;
  • developing solutions to global challenges such as migration, climate change, peace and security that go beyond purely African concerns;
  • supporting Africa's efforts to work on interregional and continental solutions to these major challenges;
  • building a people-centered partnership to better involve the citizens of Africa and Europe.

The fifth summit of the EU and the African Union (AU) with the focus on “Investing in youth” took place in Côte d’Ivoire in November 2017. This is a key concern for both sides as 60% of the people in Africa are under 25 years of age. In preparation for this event, the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy published a joint communication in May 2017 on a new impetus for the Africa-EU partnership. The European Parliament also hosted a high-level conference promoting its ideas for a new partnership ahead of the summit. Leaders and decision-makers from the EU and Africa attended to discuss the issues of peace and security, economic growth, migration and youth. At the summit, EU-African leaders adopted a joint declaration on the common priorities of an EU-Africa partnership in four areas: i) economic opportunities for young people, ii) peace and security, iii) mobility and migration, and iv) cooperation and governance. They also condemned the inhumane treatment of migrants and refugees in Libya and adopted a joint statement on it.

Further development

On March 9, 2020, the European Commission and the HR / VP published a joint communication to the European Parliament and the Council entitled “Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa”. The communication proposes enhanced cooperation focusing on five sectoral partnerships: green economy transition and energy access, digital transformation, sustainable growth and jobs, peace and governance, migration and mobility.

In July 2020, the European Parliament responded by submitting a draft own-initiative report on "A new EU-Africa strategy - a partnership for sustainable and inclusive development". Although the draft report has yet to be adopted in plenary, it reinforces and completes some parts of the strategy, such as: B. sustainable and inclusive growth, while calling for a stronger focus on other areas such as human development, social inclusion, human rights, empowerment of women and young people and resilient, mostly small-scale agriculture. With regard to migration, the draft report believes that the success of the partnership will depend on significant improvements in mobility opportunities and calls for the development of legal migration channels.

The sixth AU and EU summit was due to take place at the end of October 2020, but was postponed to possibly spring 2021.

Both the European Commission and the African Union Commission believe that the summit should focus on defining a new comprehensive EU strategy on Africa. This strategy will replace the existing Joint Africa-EU Strategy. The Africa-EU strategy, which is currently being agreed by the European Commission, the Council and Parliament, will be presented as a European proposal, while the African Union is currently preparing its own proposal. The two proposals should then be merged into a comprehensive strategy at the summit of the AU and the EU, which is shared equally by both sides.

Development cooperation

The EU remains Africa's largest donor. Development cooperation runs through various financing instruments. The most important instrument is the European Development Fund (EDF), which is based on the Cotonou Agreement and is not financed from the general EU budget (see Abstract 5.3.1 on development policy). This financial structure could be changed again depending on the results of the negotiations on the new multiannual financial framework of the EU for the period 2021-2028, which started in 2018 and should be completed by the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020 (see separate fact sheet 1.4 this topic). The 11th EDF allocated EUR 29.1 billion: EUR 24.3 billion for national and regional cooperation programs, EUR 3.6 billion for cooperation between the ACP countries and EUR 1.1 billion for the ACP -Investment facility managed by the European Investment Bank.

The EDF covers all African states that are parties to the Cotonou Agreement; only cooperation with South Africa is financed through the EU's Development Cooperation Instrument and thus from the general EU budget. Under the new Instrument for Development Cooperation 2014-2020, EUR 845 million will be allocated to the Pan-African Program (PANAF), which was set up to finance the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and continental and transcontinental measures.

Other financial instruments also relate to Africa, including the European Neighborhood Instrument for North Africa, the thematic programs under the financing instrument for development cooperation (“Global Public Goods and Challenges” and “Civil Society and Local Authorities”) and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR ).

Several countries in North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin also benefit from the recently established EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. Since this fund was set up, the total amount allocated to the three regional windows has increased to almost EUR 3.6 billion.

Trade relations

The most important instruments for promoting trade between the regions of Africa and the EU are the WTO-compliant trade agreements, known as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Negotiations on these agreements, which began in 2002, however, turned out to be more difficult than expected. As a result, only the EPA between the EU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been applied for the time being since October 2016.

Role of the European Parliament

Parliament has permanent interparliamentary delegations for relations with African states and institutions. The main body for Parliament's work in this regard is the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, which plays a central role in strengthening relations between the EU and its ACP partner countries. It meets twice a year. The last meeting took place in December 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda.

Through its Delegation for Relations with the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), which was set up in 2009, Parliament has also developed forms of parliamentary cooperation with the African Union. The last EP-PAP interparliamentary meeting took place in Midrand, South Africa, in May 2018.

The next one should probably take place in autumn 2020. If confirmed, it will replace the EP-PAP parliamentary summit, which has been postponed due to the postponement of the AU-EU intergovernmental summit. Parliamentary summits often accompany the intergovernmental summits, with the parliamentary summits issuing a joint declaration directly to the heads of state or government at the beginning of each intergovernmental summit.

The expected topics for the preliminary inter-parliamentary meeting in autumn 2020 will be:

  • Assessment of the partnership between the AU and the EU and the compatibility of the new partnership proposals with the achievements of the existing Joint Africa-EU Strategy;
  • Cooperation on migration, displacement and asylum and youth mobility in Africa;
  • Peace and security, in particular the roadmap for the AU flagship initiative “Silencing the guns by 2020”;
  • Mechanism to achieve gender parity in all walks of life by eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.

The European Union also has close bilateral parliamentary relations with South Africa, strengthened by the EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership, the EU's only bilateral strategic partnership with an African country. The last inter-parliamentary meeting took place in Cape Town (South Africa) from October to November 2018.

Rok Kozelj