With security, migratory, and economic pressures rising in Africa and Europe, many analysts agree that a strong partnership between the two is imperative to the prosperity of both continents. In an ideal world, robust cooperation between the EU and AU could provide solutions to rapid demographic changes, irregular migration, and illicit financial flows, ultimately proving that multilateral cooperation and strong governance are the best solutions to global challenges. However, as the two blocs prepare to reshape their relationship within the context of the upcoming post-Cotonou negotiations, current trends indicate that several obstacles may prevent this ideal from becoming a reality.
The lackluster outcome of last year’s AU-EU Summit showcased a limited capacity to agree to shared priorities, with institutional deficiencies, post-Colonial frustration, and empty rhetoric underpinning the lack of meaningful commitment. This delicate situation is further compounded by the increasing presence of new actors in Africa, such as China, Russia and the Islamic Development Bank, which have fundamentally shifted traditional power dynamics by diversifying sources of concessional finance, trade, and development aid - often with fewer conditionalities. Trade between Africa and China increased from $3bn in 1995 to over $200bn today, and since 2010, China has been a more significant trading partner for Africa’s 34 least developed countries than the EU.
This rapidly shifting geopolitical landscape presents both risks and opportunities for future EU-Africa cooperation. Several studies show that emerging economies may be setting new norms for faster, unconditional financing without concern for human rights, debt sustainability, or inclusive growth. In this regard, it is essential that policy makers more closely analyze the empirical impact of new FDI, trade, and aid flows on behavior at the national and sub-regional level.
Conversely, these developments also present opportunities to identify new, innovative partnership approaches, such as reciprocal commitments for transparency reforms from European and African states. In light of these challenges and opportunities ahead, this round-table discussion will bring together a small group of experts, EU officials, and civil society to develop pragmatic approaches to address the geopolitical obstacles facing a successful EU-Africa partnership. This discussion will not only consider how to strengthen the EU’s competitive advantage, but also explore avenues for new partnership models, and potential collaboration with China and other regional powers. Panel interventions will be kept as brief as possible to allow for audience members and other panelists to constructively debate and build upon each other’s ideas
Round-table and Interactive Dialogue
New Players on the Field: The Impact of Emerging Actors in Africa
Date: Thursday , October 11th 2018
Location: European Parliament, Room A3H-1