EU ministers pledge more efforts for Africa partnership

Federica Mogherini in Senegal, 5 December 2016. [Commission]

EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg Monday (19 June) committed to working closely with their African partners for an “ambitious and successful” EU-Africa summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on 29 and 30 November, with “Investing in Youth” as the central theme.

Faced with an unprecedented migration crisis, ministers devoted part of their time in an effort to streamline policies aimed at building more resilient states and societies in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as creating more and better jobs, especially for young people.

The “Africa-EU Partnership: a renewed impetus” joint communication adopted last May stated that in the changing global context, it is in the EU’s strategic interest to deepen and adapt its long-standing partnership with Africa.

A stronger political relationship is envisaged, as well as turning strategic objectives into actions and taking on board Africa’s vision. A series of flagship initiatives has been spelled out.

The nine-page Council conclusions adopted yesterday stress that the EU and its member states are Africa’s main partner in the fields of foreign investment, trade, place of origin for remittances, development and humanitarian assistance, and security and defence.

The general view is that better partnerships in all fields, from climate change to security, economic development, migration and humanitarian support are the best way to manage migration and prevent radicalisation.

Ministers said that they welcome initial proposals for actions focused on “more and better jobs, especially for youth”. However, the statements of support sound quite general.

Gianni Pittella, leader of the European Parliament’s S&D group, said the conclusions on the Africa-EU Partnership show that member states finally recognise that the EU has a genuine strategic interest in deepening and reinforcing its relations with its African partners. But he insisted that “a more constructive approach is needed based on a long-term strategy”.

“A new partnership means that Europeans shift their focus to development through investments, democracy, good governance, and education, whilst Africans also have their share of responsibility. To this end, the implementation of a long-term EU development plan for Africa is essential”, Pittella said.

The S&D leader also said that the EU and Africa must step up efforts to forge a partnership on migration. “It must start by addressing the root causes through creating better livelihoods and decent work in order to avoid that young people risk their lives attempting to flee to Europe”, he added.