The African Union’s (AU) leadership would like to negotiate a new deal guiding the relationship with the EU as part of an overhaul of the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000 in Benin’s capital. As Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chadian chairman of the African Union Commission, pointed out, “we think that the African continent should be acting as a whole”.
Speaking alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker following the ninth meeting between the leaders of both unions, Mr. Faki commented that the AU wanted “to be in a position to talk to each other one continent to another,” and added that “we have three parts – the Maghreb, Southern Africa which has an agreement with the EU, and the other members of the ACP…we would like to act as a continent as a whole.” The AU would like to position itself as political actor but the Cotonou deal that is still governing the relations between both sides is mostly development-centered and investment-centered, though migration is also a part of the deal.
The EU would in turn like to see one single agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (“ACP countries”) and three regional compacts, including one for Africa that would replace the Joint Africa-EU strategy. The EU also wants to avoid the “accusation” from African countries that the bloc is mostly interested in using the Cotonou negotiations to create conditionality between financial support and controls on migration. “Co-operation with Africa goes far beyond migration,” said Juncker, who described the relationship as “a partnership between equals. We have been talking about migration but I wouldn’t want people to think it is the only thing (on the agenda),” Mr. Juncker emphasized.