Africa-EU relations

The EU-Africa summit, held in December 2007 in Lisbon, cemented new Africa-EU strategic partnership, marking a qualitative leap in relations between the two continents.

The Joint Africa-EU Strategy provides an overarching long-term framework for Africa- EU relations , while its first action plan specifies concrete proposals for 2008-2010, structured along 8 Africa-EU strategic partnerships:

  1. Peace and security
  2. Democratic governance and human rights
  3. Trade, regional integration and infrastructure
  4. Millennium development goals (MDGs)
  5. Energy
  6. Climate change
  7. Migration, mobility and employment
  8. Science, information society and space.

Together with the political Lisbon Declaration , those key documents define the framework for the Africa-EU strategic partnership, designed to guide EU-Africa dialogue and cooperation in the coming few years, in line with the principles of African ownership, co-management and co-responsibility.

In October 2009, European Commission together with African Union Commission has prepared a mid term review report and also identified list of key achievements per each of 8 strategic partnerships . All this helps in the current process of revision and suggestions for improvements for the second action plan, which will be adopted in the upcoming 3rd Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli, Libya, 29-30 November 2010.

The Communication One year after Lisbon: the Africa-EU partnership at work (October 2008) reviews the progress made during the first year of implementation of the joint strategy and outlines the challenges ahead of the next Africa-EU Summit in 2010. It confirms the step change in Europe's relations with Africa and aims at stimulating debate among stakeholders on both continents: Member States, regional bodies, parliaments, civil society and international partners, concrete results achieved so far for each of the 8 partnerships and a way forward.

One of the main objectives of the EU relations with Africa is to promote the achievement of the UN Millennium development goals (MDGs) in Africa. This objective is strengthened and complemented by the specific objectives pursued within the Cotonou Agreement, the Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA), the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, and the European neighbourhood policy, including the support to political reform and economic modernisation.

How is the strategic partnership financed?

Rather than creating new instruments, the existing ones will have to be streamlined to finance the new partnership.

The following sources of financing are expected to support implementation of the partnership (depending on their scope and relevance):

  • European Development Fund (EDF)
  • The EU Infrastructure Trust Fund for Africa
  • European Neighbourhood Policy (ENPI)
  • Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI)
  • Instrument for Stability (IfS)
  • European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)
  • EU's common foreign and security policy budget
  • Bilateral contributions from EU member countries
  • Bilateral contributions from African countries
  • Trust funds, such as the African Peace Facility (APF) or the AU Peace Fund
  • International organisations
  • International financing institutions
  • Development banks, such as the African Development Bank or the European Investment Bank
  • Private foundations
  • Private sector
  • Local authorities
  • Civil society organisations

Specific needs are programmed in regional and country strategy papers and indicative programmes.

The EU Infrastructure Trust Fund for Africa is an innovative co-financing instrument of the EU-Africa Partnership on Infrastructure. It brings together the EC, Member States, the European Invest Bank (EIB), and European Development Financing Institutions, who can pool their respective efforts and resources to directly co-finance relevant projects. The Trust Fund provides grants that will attract and leverage additional funds from other donors and private investors.

These grants will cover:

  • interest rate subsidies
  • technical assistance, including preparatory work for eligible projects such as environmental impact assessments, project supervision and targeted capacity building,
  • direct grants for project components that have a substantial demonstrable social or environmental benefit
  • initial stage funding of insurance premium necessary to ensure the launch of infrastructure projects.

In the first six months, the Trust fund already has € 60 million from the EC, and € 27 million from contributing Member States. In addition, the EIB and other donors could commit resources in excess of €250 million. A Secretariat will ensure an access point for and liaison with all Partnership stakeholders.

In addition, the European Commission manages a special programme to strengthen the institutional capacity of the African Union organs (€55m for 2000-2007).

A new international context

Europe and Africa are connected by strong trade links, making the EU the biggest export market for African products. For example, approximately 85% of Africa’s exports of cotton, fruit and vegetables are imported by the EU.

Since the early 2000s, Africa has seen the birth of the African Union (AU) with its socio-economic programme, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); Africa’s regional economic communities (RECs) have become more active and a new generation of leaders has emerged at national level. Relations between the EU and Africa must develop to keep pace with all these changes.

The new Africa-EU strategic partnership follows on from the 2005 EU Strategy for Africa , with its objective of more coherent and effective aid from the EU and from individual member countries. Its purpose was to give the EU, as a whole, a comprehensive, integrated and long-term framework for its relations with the African continent.