Let’s renew the EU-Africa partnership now!

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

EU - African Union summit preparations. [European Council]

The European Union – African Union Summit, which is taking place today, is an important milestone. European and African leaders must underline that we depend on each other. A prosperous African future is a prosperous European future, writes a coalition of MEPs.

The Renew Europe group brings together liberal, reformist and progressive MEPs. With 101 MEPs from 23 EU member states, it is the third-largest political force in the European Parliament. 

Europe and Africa must advance, as equals, our partnership to meet the global challenges and our shared goals of today and tomorrow. International relations are evolving by the day. Changes that we must face together.

The pandemic has pushed nearly 100 million people into poverty. The eradication of poverty and the fight against inequalities must be our absolute priority. For Renew Europe, the right to self-development and the Sustainable Development Goals are key for the future of both continents. The EU, the AU and their member states must put human development at the heart of our relations. It is the key to empowerment and freedom. Both continents must pay special attention to the most vulnerable groups, such as girls, women, and LGBTIQ and disabled people, who are often the first to experience discrimination.

In times of a global health crisis, solidarity between people and countries has become central to global cooperation. We need to promote better access to healthcare and, most notably, a better and fairer access to vaccines in Africa. Currently, only 11% of the African population is fully vaccinated compared to 81,4% of Europeans. The EU must continue its efforts to vaccinate the world by sharing and donating vaccines, with logistical support to Africa that needs it, by strengthening the COVAX programme, supporting local manufacturing of vaccines, investing in pandemic preparedness in the continent and continuing to show solidarity.

The negative consequences of climate change are especially apparent in African countries, being among some of the first countries to suffer its various impacts. A renewed EU-Africa partnership should pave the way for the AU and EU Green Pact to foster tighter cooperation and investment opportunities in Africa to accelerate the green transition between our continents and tackle climate change as global harm. 

All of these aforementioned points have a direct consequence on migration, one of the most controversial issues in our relations. For Renew Europe, both continents need a positive and comprehensive cooperation on migration and mobility that is based on universal values of human rights and on the interests of Europe and Africa. With a reciprocal partnership approach, we can stem the root causes of irregular migration, such as poverty, violence and climate change, but also facilitate the free movement of people by creating legal pathways for migration. Goals that can benefit both partners in the long term.

Africa is the continent with the youngest population. This cradle of dynamism has shown a hunger for change and progress. In this European Year of Youth, Renew Europe puts youth at the heart of all of its policies.

The EU should invest in the education of Africa’s youth and boost youth employment. Africa has enormous economic potential, especially with its youth and women, who can be a driving force of opportunity for the continent and in the success of Africa’s cultural, economic and societal future. Therefore, we also call on the EU and the AU to promote women and girls empowerment in both public and political life and work towards ending gender-based violence in all its forms. 

Trade between the EU and Africa should benefit all countries, businesses – especially SMEs – citizens and investors of both continents. The EU can advance the economic and social position of African companies, especially women and youth, through the advancement of sustainable trade relations. Trade negotiations between our two continents should aim to expand economic cooperation and market access and serve as a platform to address human rights, sustainability, digitalisation, gender equality and the rule of law. Public and private investments in Africa’s economy and infrastructure are critical aspects of Africa’s comprehensive trade and investment strategy.

The latest wave of coup d’états has shown that stability is another crucial point in a new EU-Africa partnership. The common interests of the Europeans and Africans should be placed front and centre in the EU’s approach to counter threats to stability and security and the violation of human rights. There is no stability without security; there is no progress without stability. Together with the AU, we must look carefully at the root causes of instability and conflict. Europe and Africa should not shy away from curtailing the influence of third countries whose values do not align with theirs. With the rise of the Wagner Group of Russia with its private security agencies and disinformation activities and Chinese partnership deals at the cost of human rights, ensuring peace and security together is imperative more than ever.

Renew Europe expects meaningful results. We must be vigilant and scrutinise at every step of the way: the outcome of this summit is being held up to high expectations and standards by European and African citizens alike. This summit is a crucial milestone in our cooperation. Still, it is what comes after that it is truly important to build a stronger and more strategic partnership with a sense of belonging and inclusivity. Our promises should not be empty. 

Signed by the following MEPs:

  • Barry Andrews, Renew Europe MEP, member of the committees on International trade and on Development in the European Parliament
  • Charles Goerens, Renew Europe MEP, member of the committee on Development in the European Parliament
  • Javier Nart, Renew Europe MEP, member of the committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament
  • Jan-Christoph Oetjen, Renew Europe MEP, substitute member of the committee Development in the European Parliament
  • Samira Rafaela, Renew Europe MEP, member of the committee on International trade
  • Soraya Rodriguez Ramos, Renew Europe MEP, member of the committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament
  • Marie-Pierre Vedrenne, Renew Europe MEP, vice-chair of the committee on International trade

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