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Working Document
EU non-paper on EU-Africa Strategic Partnership

Date of release : 11-04-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : EU-Africa (Troika)

A. Rationale, potential and principles of an enhanced EU-African partnership

a. Context and rationale

Origins: The EU welcomes the establishment of the African Union (AU), launched at the Durban Summit in July 2002, as a new institutional pan-African level of governance. The EU equally appreciates the aim of the AU to promote continent-wide integration through the promotion of peace and good governance on the basis of African-owned strategies. This determination is also reflected in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which now is in the process of being integrated as the socio-economic programme of the AU. Although the AU does not represent the whole of Africa, it embodies the institutional framework with which the EU can correspond.

Strategy: The EU welcomes in particular progress made with regard to the AU “Vision, Mission and Strategic Framework (2004-2007)�?, which provides an ambitious long-term perspective to the further institutional and operational development of the AU. Peace and security, good governance, and regional integration constitute the main conditions and objectives of the work of the AU and its sub-regional building blocks. 

Long-term objectives: The EU welcomes the long-term objectives of the AU, as laid out in the Strategic Framework, which are (i) to work towards a progressive political and economic continental integration, (ii) to promote the emergence of democratic societies that encourage the rule of law, good governance and human security, and (iii) to develop African-led responses to continental sustainable development challenges. To this purpose the AU has set out three priority actions: (i) rationalizing and integrating continental programmes, (ii) becoming an interface between Africa and the rest of the world, and (iii) building a continental consensus on the AU vision.

EU-Africa dialogue: The creation of the AU has given a new momentum to the EU-Africa dialogue, the only forum for political dialogue with the whole of Africa on many subjects that have clear continental implications.

The streamlined and more flexible format, as decided by the Rome ministerial meeting (November 2003), has also facilitated constructive debate and given a strong impetus to the dialogue.

b. Potential

The great potential that the AU offers both Africa and Europe should currently be used to further develop and broaden the partnership. There is an obvious interest in a strong pan-African organisation that can provide a solid political framework to underpin African-led responses to development challenges.

c. Principles

Ownership: The point of departure of the partnership should be African ownership of both the challenges and solutions of Africa’s development agenda. The renewed African self-confidence manifested by the AU should be seen as an asset for Africa’s sustainable development. The EU therefore supports the leadership of the AU where its role and competency adds value and acknowledges its ownership of present and future African development challenges.

Equality: There is today a need to put in place the foundation for a strong political partnership between an enlarging EU and a rapidly emerging AU. This partnership should be strong, equal, and based on mutual recognition and mutual interests. Africa is Europe’s next door neighbour and developments in one continent often have immediate and far-reaching repercussions on life in the other. Development, stability, and security for all in Africa are therefore also very much in the interest of Europe and the long road towards sustainable social, political, and economic development in Africa is a road that Africa and the EU should walk together.

Recognition: The EU is recognising the AU as the main political interlocutor in its relations with Africa, while not implying that it is the only one.

B.  Recommendations

The following recommendations could further enhance and streamline the dialogue between the EU and Africa thereby increasing its efficiency. Some of them are already applied.

a. Format and linkages

Strengthening the EU-Africa dialogue
  • Further enhance the Ministerial Troika meetings as agreed during the Rome Ministerial meeting (November 2003) through a streamlined agenda and in-depth preparations. More use should be made of experts, as was done on the issues of external debt and cultural goods, to give concrete technical recommendations to take forward. Regular Senior Official Meetings (SOMs) should be foreseen to prepare in time the Troika meetings at ministerial level as well as to assure a proper follow-up. Furthermore, HOMs in Addis Ababa as well as in capitals of AU key players could be actively involved in preparing the Troika meetings. 
  • As the AU is already de facto recognised as the interlocutor on the African side, the EU considers the AU as its main counterpart within the EU-Africa dialogue, being understood that Morocco remains associated in a pragmatic way.

Reassert the level of engagement of the EU-Africa dialogue

The momentum created by the EU-Africa dialogue should be used to look for creative solutions in order to reassert the level of engagement of the dialogue, while reiterating that the timely holding of a Summit, as foreseen by the Cairo Declaration, remains for the EU an important objective.

It is therefore proposed to reaffirm the convening of the Lisbon Summit as a primary aim. Taking into account the political circumstances currently impeding the holding of a Summit, the EU looks forward to discussing any creative option with the aim of holding the Summit as soon as possible, in line with the modalities for dialogue agreed on at the Ministerial meeting in Rome.

Define a regular EU-AU dialogue articulated at different levels
  • Establish a substantive and systematic dialogue between the European Commission and the African Union Commission. The Council Secretariat will be duly associated when CFSP matters are involved.
  • Hold meetings between the EU Political and Security Committee (full or Troika format) and representatives of the African Union Peace and Security Council as required. 
  • Establish a regular and structured dialogue in Addis Ababa, notably through (i) the holding of regular meetings between the EU HOMs and the African Union Commission or Troika and (ii) the enhancement of the Joint Working Group. The broadening of the political dialogue at the Addis end should also include contacts with the main AU Member States represented locally. As regards the Joint Working Group, the EU should ensure a greater input in this platform, which is co-chaired by the European Commission, and expand its scope and regularity.
  • Ensure coherence and subsidiarity in the dialogue with the AU and the RECs on the African side and the EU dialogue with the RECs on the AU side, the officially recognised building blocks of the AU. EU’s political dialogue with the RECs should regularly also include information on AU related issues. In the same vein, the political dialogue conducted with individual MS of the AU should equally be a forum for discussing EU-AU relations.

Establish institutional linkages
  • Encourage the establishment of linkages between EU and AU institutions, such as the European and Pan-African Parliaments.
  • The AU could also play a positive role in Art 96 / 97 dialogue regarding African ACP MS.

b. Content

Further streamline the agenda of the EU-Africa dialogue around the four clusters

  • The streamlining of the agenda around four clusters has proven a valuable step in focusing the dialogue on issues with continental implications:
  1. Within the peace and security cluster, both parties should take stock of the progress in the creation of an African peace and security architecture and the development of EU instruments, such as the Peace Facility for Africa, to promote peace on the continent. This dialogue will also focus on particular conflicts and crises of sub-regional and regional relevance.  
  2. Within the governance cluster, the European and African sides should focus on the added value of new institutions, instruments and criteria provided for in the Constitutive Act of the African Union for the human rights, democracy and governance of African countries.
  3. The regional integration and trade cluster should aim at reaching a common understanding as regards ongoing intra-African, EU-Africa, and multilateral trade negotiations.
  4. The development cluster regroups a number of ‘development issues’ that have moved forward at different pace within the dialogue. The challenge here is to focus on the political dimension of these development issues, in the light of the strategic framework created by the AU and NEPAD.

  • Within these clusters, attempts must be made to reduce the number of issues to discuss, notably within the development cluster. This is necessary in order to have more focused and in-depth discussions as well as more concrete outcomes. HOMs in Addis could be tasked to discuss other priority subjects that cannot be dealt with in the context of the Ministerial meetings.

Strengthen policy dialogue
  • Strengthen the policy dialogue with the AU, with an aim to re-examine the coherence and complementarity of the EU’s policies in sectors such as governance, trade, and development, in the light of new pan-African policies and programmes. Greater coordination and integration between the development policies of the EU and the priorities and policies of the AU need to be promoted.

Define an operational agenda of support
  • Develop a concrete operational agenda. In the short run, the most important priority for the AU, and also for the EU-AU partnership, is to build up the capacity of the AU Commission to assume its key role and responsibility as a continental engine of progressive change.
  • Focus further support on areas in which continental pan-African approaches provide added value. Fully respecting the subsidiarity principle, there is much potential for pan-African cooperation on issues like regional integration and trade, but also migration, the environment, agriculture, ICT, and culture. The vast and ambitious AU agenda on governance, human rights and democracy, including the voluntary self-monitoring of Africans by Africans, the so-called African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), also deserves the EU’s attention and support.

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This page was last modified on : 12-05-2005

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