This article is part of our special report A new EU-Africa partnership.
A new model of collaboration between the EU and Africa can change today’s dangerous turn of international relations, which have moved from “win-win” solutions and are now based on “zero-sum” games, EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini said.
Speaking at the ‘Africa Week’ conference on 7 November organised by the Socialists and Democrat group in the European Parliament (S&D), Mogherini noted that the world is facing the return to a more dangerous way of understanding global politics.
“A way of interpreting international relations based not on cooperation and partnership, not on win-win solutions, but more and more often as a power game, as a zero-sum game,” Mogherini said.
She said Africa has a responsibility when it comes to shaping international relations.
“This not just because most of the world’s demographic growth is happening inside Africa, it is also about an idea of international relations and global politics,” she said, adding that all EU countries are aware of the strategic importance of the European-African partnership.
“Look at the numbers, look at the demography, look at the richness – natural resources, of the people. You are a big global player and together, Europe and Africa, can shape the features of international relations in quite a revolutionary way,” Mogherini added.
The EU foreign policy chief called for more cooperative governance of global affairs as the only effective way to deal with the challenges of our times.
“Africa is experiencing on a daily basis a strengthening of its regional and sub-regional organisations that inspires many of us. It is also inspired by much of what we have done in Europe, but this is a continuous learning process in which we exchange experiences, so governance based on cooperation inside the regions and among the regions.”
“We have to work and we need to work on our partnership beyond migration, with Africa […] I think this is exactly the kind of message we need in Europe today,” she added.
Inequalities: The root cause of migration
Referring to migration, Mogherini noted that there are many root causes but we should face the reality and admit that the main one is inequality.
“An unequal distribution of wealth and resources around the world. This is what we are talking about when we talk about the root causes of migration – also conflicts and crises, and many of them are caused exactly by inequalities and unequal distribution of resources.”
“I think we have understood from our history, both in Africa and in Europe, that if my neighbour has a problem I also have a problem. And the best way to invest in my strength is investing in my neighbour’s strength,” the EU official said.
“This is the kind of cooperation we have started to establish with Africa in these years. Beyond the donor-recipient relation, we went from the idea of having projects for Africa, which is something good and that we continue to do, to the idea of working with Africa, as I was saying, towards our common interests.”
Mogherini conceded that migration had dominated the EU-Africa agenda in recent years but that this was gradually changing.
“We finally realised that the management of migration flows is not a South-North divide but it is a common interest to manage together. It is a complex challenge – also because most of the African countries are at the same time countries of origin, of transit and of destination nowadays.”
Bullmann: Europe has to change first
Udo Bullmann, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament, reiterated that the ongoing discussion with Africa has to go beyond migration but first Europe has to change its policies.
“The lesson to be learnt is that Europe has to change its trade, agriculture and foreign policies. If we don’t change and become sustainable partners how can we expect from others to organise change in their countries? This is the precondition of our new partnership,” Bullmann said.
Referring to migration, he said it could not be ignored but noted that those who flee their countries need to find a safe place in EU nations: legal ways of migration, which does not endanger their lives.
“We need to help you develop the resources in your countries not in the way of exploiting but be truthful partners and this is where Europe has to change.”
“Small-scale farming and family farming need to be promoted and not the huge industrialised agricultural policy.”
The S&D chief focused on the need to involve more young generations in the decision-making from both sides as it’s up to them to shape the future of the two continents.
“We are no longer simply talking about Africa or what we can do for Africa. We are talking about what we can do with Africa,” he noted.
“This is against the will of nationalists and populists in Europe. Their ideas for a fortress Europe are unjust, immoral and wrong,” he concluded.