The EU-Africa Summit: Towards a True Equal Partnership

Written by | Friday, April 11th, 2014
@Eubulletin

The 4th EU-Africa Summit that was held in Brussels in early April, brought together more than 60 African and EU leaders, and a total of 90 delegations, to discuss the future of EU-Africa relations and reinforce links between the two continents. When the African and EU leaders met, they were presented with the opportunity to begin to build a new partnership between two continents that have had a long and sometimes troubled relationship. The EU-Africa Summits have a mixed record, which was also aptly characterized in a leaked US diplomatic cable in 2007 that stated: “Some observers have commented that the only success from the first – and only – EU-Africa summit in 2000 was merely that it was held.”
In the April 2014 summit declaration, leaders highlighted the close nature of EU-Africa relations and the shared values of democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance as well as the right to development. At the same time, the venue was held in the wake of an unusual period of both tension and increased cooperation between the EU and African nations, when both sides tried to work together while obviously struggling to understand the other partners’ concerns and actions. Due to the complex dynamics of often complicated relationship, it is rather difficult to predict the course of the relations over the next one or two generations.
Further complicating things has been the ongoing trend of a lessening reliance on Europe by African nations in the context of the transformation across much of Africa over the last decade: While democracy has taken root, with most sub-Saharan countries now holding regular democratic elections, they have also seen a sustained growth of over 6% that has doubled average GDP per head. This development has shifted Africa from being a perpetual recipient of donor aid from EU and other Western nations to becoming a center for global investment with over $2.7 trillion dollars of FDI pouring into the continent. Though now ranking as one of the fastest growing economic regions, with 6 out the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, the EU countries with their multi-trillion euro industrialized economies still have much to offer in terms of investment, know-how and knowledge transfer.
Despite the still generally bright prospects for the EU-Africa relations, Africans increasingly expect an equal partnership, with the one-sided relationship between former colonies and their once occupying powers clearly being a thing of the past. The recent EU-Africa Summit has clearly demonstrated that African continent can no longer be viewed as merely a recipient of foreign aid and source of mineral resources, but instead must now be treated as European Union’s equal partner.

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Africa · GLOBAL EUROPE

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