The EU and Africa: Corona makes the path still rocky

A picture that should send a clear message: Ursula von der Leyen, in addition to Moussa Faki Mahamat, head of the Commission of the African Union (AU) - surroun

The EU and Africa: Corona makes the path still rocky

A picture that should send a clear message: Ursula von der Leyen, in addition to Moussa Faki Mahamat, head of the Commission of the African Union (AU) - surrounded by nearly all the members of the EU Commission and the AU.

Von der Leyen had opened in this February for the second Time since taking office at the end of 2019 to Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia and headquarters of the AU. In two Meetings, she had the opportunity to explain how important the African continent is.

All warm-up exercises for the new EU-Africa strategy, which is presented to the Commission at the beginning of March. The heart: The relations with the neighbouring continent will change. To a partnership on eye-level, which focuses on the interests of the two continents in the center.

This strategy is from the EU perspective a first step in the months-long path in the direction of the 6. AU-EU summit, to be held at the end of the year in Brussels. At a Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, this Time at Ministerial level, should be cleared a few stones out of the way. But then COVID-19 came, the meeting had to be postponed, like so many other things.

A purely European perspective?

the partnership for both sides is still important, denies none. The question that arises now, is how quickly representatives of both continents now (can work).

On the side of the EU, there are those who go as well as the strategy to pursue wanted, says Geert Laporte, head of the European Think Tanks Group and a researcher at the Brussels think-tank ECDPM. And give it to those who requested, due to the Coronavirus-crisis rethink. Some criticized that the strategy was already obsolete when it was published, Laporte. Especially because the topics of health and pandemic are exposed to very under.

Faten Aggad advises the African Union on EU issues. For them, it's not a question of whether the EU's strategy is now obsolete due to the pandemic or not, but rather that it assumes a purely European perspective. From the point of view of the African Union, there are four important pillars for the partnership with the EU: trade, Migration, peace and security as well as climate. All issues that the EU presents as the heart of their strategy. But The "devil is in the Detail," says Aggad.

in the areas of trade, the Europe and Africa agreed that they would cooperate, only the approaches were completely opposite. For the African continent, the "Continental Free Trade Area" (CFTA) is just in focus, a free trade area of the 54 AU States. An epochal project that was supposed to start in July, will be delayed now, however, due to the Covid-19-crisis.

Controversial trade agreement between the EU and

Although the EU is supporting this process on the neighboring continent, but wants to hold on to the controversial "economic partnership agreements" (in English EPAs). The Deals are to ensure, through free trade, greater prosperity in Africa. NGOs and African civil society to criticize you but again and again, because of cheap imports from Europe, for example, can destroy industries in Africa.

The EU to negotiate these EPAs under the umbrella of the Cotonou agreement. A framework that regulates the relations of the European Union to the ACP countries, 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, mainly former colonies of European great powers.

As the Cotonou Deal 2020 expires, should actually be already in April, a new proposal is on the table. "There are still many unresolved issues in the strategic orientation of the concept," says Udo Bullmann, SPD-member of the European Parliament and spokesman for the social Democrats in the Committee on Development of the EU Parliament. It is now clear that the negotiations, also because of COVID-19 - far longer than planned.

critics not to find fault but just the possible content of a Post-Cotonou agreement, but the basic structure itself. The fact that the EU does not negotiate directly with the AU, but one of the ACP States, of which only the southern part of the African continent.

ACP: "An octopus with several tentacles,"

"Africa has its own reality, a private image of himself, may enter for the it is best as a Block," says Mohamed Diatta, researchers from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Addis Ababa. Also Geert Laporte of ECDPM in Brussels is of the opinion that it would be better that the EU-ACP relationship belong to the past. "The ACP is an octopus with several tentacles," says Laporte. One of these tentacles, the joint Parliamentary Assembly ACP-EU.

Alviina Alametsä, EU members of Parliament of the Finnish Green party, has Recently become a member. "I think the Assembly helps to improve the cooperation between the regions involved," she says. "But I also think that we should more cooperate with the African Union, because it is a very important Player." Alametsä considers it important, trade policy so that it is fair for African countries. "We have a responsibility due to the colonial past of Europe."

responsibility assumed by the EU Commission and the EU member States, they say, in the corona of a crisis. More than 20 billion euros to cushion the impact in particularly vulnerable countries, especially in Africa. The money is not fresh, but from existing projects diverted. Some are calling for more financial commitment from the EU. However, many on the African continent it is intended, rather, to finally get away from strategy to strategy, the way of the pure expressions of interest on the part of the EU. AU-consultant Faten Aggad says, EU and AU would have to finally talk about the results. Don't constantly talk about the "what" we do, but about "how" you want to achieve it.

author: Marina Strauss

*The post "EU and Africa: Corona makes the path still rocky", will be published by Deutsche Welle. Contact with the executives here.

Deutsche Welle
Updated Date: 24 May 2020, 13:26

You need to login to comment.

Please register or login.

RELATED NEWS