Europafrica bulletin – Issue 2 – 23 March 2007

The EU and the AU have jointly launched a public consultation at the beginning of February on the elaboration of a joint EU-Africa Strategy to be approved at the second EU-Africa joint Summit that should be held in Lisbon at the end of 2007. The first phase of the consultation runs until the end of April. ECDPM (European Centre for Policy Development Management) has been asked to facilitate this consultation process, which aims at seeking the views of African and European Non State Actors on the future EU-Africa joint Strategy.

This is the second issue of the Europafrica bulletin (click here for the first issue), which will give you an up-date on the public consultation for a joint EU-Africa Strategy. It includes news that has been posted on the web site on the institutional negotiations, various events held on the topic, as well as a summary and quotes from your comments and contributions.

http://www.europafrica.org/

News

Confirmed time-line of internet consultation

The final report of the internet consultation will be submitted to the African and European officials drafting the strategy before their meeting at the end of April. The report will also be presented in the Non State Actors conference which is planned for late April in Europe (see related events). To be able to draft the report in time we ask you to submit your contributions no later than the 15th of April. This will give the officials enough time to take your contributions into consideration before they present the first draft of the strategy to the EU-Africa Ministerial troika meeting which takes place on the 14th of May.

Demands from NGOs formulated at conference in Bonn

At the conference “Prospects for Africa – Europe’s Policies”, that took place in Bonn on the 12th of March African and European non-governmental organisations (NGOs) discussed the EU Africa Strategy. “A common EU Africa strategy can only be credible and sustainable if European and African civil society is sufficiently involved in formulating it,” said Justin Kilcullen of CONCORD, the umbrella association of European NGOs. Agnes Abuom of the World Council of Churches criticised that NGO involvement frequently turned out to be more theory than practice. “Anyone speaking of partnership with equal rights has to listen to African civil society instead of exerting pressure on it with short negotiating deadlines.”
Read the press release from the German Development NGOs platform VENRO.

Related events:

  • African Civil Society consultation on the EU-Africa Strategy in Accra, Ghana, 26-28 of March. www.africa-union.org
  • A Non State Actors Conference on the EU-Africa Strategy is planned for 23-24 April. The results will feed into the official dialogue in time for the Ministerial Troika meeting on the 14/5, together with the report of the Internet consultation. The venue will be confirmed in the coming days on the website.
  • Roundtable on European-African Relations in Pavia, Italy on the 16 March. It is organised by CICOPS, EADI and ECDPM.
  • Open Civil Society Forum with Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, 20 March 2007, Brussels.
  • African Civil Society Forum 2007 will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 22-24 March on the theme: “Democratizing Governance at Regional and Global Level to Achieve the MDGs”.

Institutional negotiations:

A summary of the first joint EU-Africa expert meeting that took place on 19-23 February in Brussels has been approved by both African and European experts and provides an overview of issues discussed under the five clusters (shared vision, governance and human rights, key development issues, peace and security, trade and regional integration) as well as of the points of divergence.
Read official press release.
Read a summary of the discussions.

The next EU-Africa expert meeting will be held 23-24/3 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A summary of ideas from the Internet consultation will be delivered to the official dialogue.

Debate:

In the coming weeks of the consultation process we would to like to develop further and more in-depth discussions on the basis of the questions raised during the institutional negotiation process and the public consultation so far. Structuring your answers around these questions will allow you to contribute most efficiently to the debate. The same questions will be posted on the website shortly.

Summary of public contributions:

This section provides an overview of the discussions taking place on the website and highlights the questions brought up.

On the consultation process

Additional challenges that have been brought up on the consultation process are mainly those of a restricted time-line, and how to ensure that African institutions and civil society involved given the timeline. Various organizations have strongly expressed their wish that the consultation process goes on until the Lisbon Summit and that sound mechanisms should be put in place afterwards in order to keep associating Non State Actors to the follow up of the joint EU-Africa Strategy.

  • “The basis of any engagement must be a fair and open process, engaging above all African civil society. Institutions must be willing to reopen and take into account the concerns of the EU and African citizens in developing a shared vision for the future of EU-Africa Relations. To achieve real partnership, the EU must be ready to learn from African experience and analysis.” CONCORD

On the Shared Vision

Contributions on the shared vision have continued to call for a real change in the EU-Africa relationship and to move away from a classical donor-recipient relationship. The impact of news factors, such as the strengthened African-Chinese relationship, on EU-Africa relations has been acknowledged and questions. How shall the new strategy deal with other partnerships between the two continents? Enough time should also be provided for Africa to come up with its own shared vision of its relationship with the EU before entering the debate of a Euro-African shared vision. Within the framework of an EU-Africa shared vision, the EU and Africa should be able develop and defend common views in global fora.
Several contributions emphasise African unity as a condition for development. How can better unity among the African states be reached and diversities within the continent dealt with? When will the EU member states start to treat Africa as one continent and not in a divided manner? Another issue that has been raised related to this is how a common EU-Africa strategy should relate to violations against human rights and international law that take place within the African continent. Comments specifically call for AU action towards the situation regarding human rights, including several comments on Zimbabwe as well as for the situation in Western Sahara to be properly taken into account in the framework of the new joint Strategy.

  • “Europe and Africa share so many things that tie their destinies intertwined for ever… Any discussion towards forming brighter collaborations between the two peoples must be based on fair collaboration, bearing in mind the unique links with their ups and downs. It is a matter of creating more ups than downs”, Abdulkadir Khalif Sh. Yusuf.
  • “Africa is underdeveloped and needs to address the reasons why this status quo is being perpetuated first before engaging in talks with EU on how to be partners on development and reorganization agenda”, Julius Okelo.

On Key Development Issues:

The contributions have focused around the key development issues of education, migration, infrastructure, health, debt, calls for private-public partnerships and the way Africa is perceived abroad stressing the importance of communication policies. More specifically some participants have called for a stronger focus on neglected tropical diseases while acknowledging efforts made to tackle HIV AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Debt cancellation has been strongly raised by several participants with the responsibility of the countries granting unsustainable loans pointed out. Comments on aid modalities have raised concerns on the maintenance of EC aid focus on health and education in the context of an increasing use of budget support and that the donor-recipient relationship has to be over-come once and for all. It has to be a true partnership of equals, which takes its starting point the people, not the leaders. Local actors and decision-makers need to mobilised, as well as the African diaspora in Europe, which role in the negotiation of the EU-Africa joint Strategy should be further defined.
Another aspect which has been brought up is the need to mainstream better mainstream some policies with a focus on vulnerable groups of society, referring specifically to people with disabilities, women and children. With the approval of the new UN Disability Rights convention last year, various actors have called for this convention to be ratified by all European and African States and for an improved inclusion of disabled persons to be made at all policy levels and specifically regarding primary health and education. Specific recommendations have been made in that respect.

  • “EU migration policies can greatly influence the developmental potential of migration as well as the brain drain effects. Migration policies, thus, need to be designed together with development policies”, Valentina Mazzucato (Netherlands).
  • “Some 80 million Africans live with a disability… If the main goal in partnership with Africa is achievement of the MDGs, we cannot hope to achieve this without explicit inclusion of disability”, Andrew K. Dube (South Africa).
  • “Debt cancellation should take place immediately, completely and without conditions for historical and political reasons. … Creditors also carry responsibility for handing out unsustainable loans”, Jacques Gerard (France).

On Governance:

Several comments have addressed the question of what ‘good governance’ means by instead focusing on how it is implied. The concept can not be imposed, but should be developed from the local level and preferably monitored by people themselves. More attention should be paid to the very positive African-grown initiatives that exist, from which lessons could be learned. Additionally, governance is not only an issue for the African continent, but also includes governance of the aid.
More contacts are called for between both continents, not only between leaders (leadership playing an important role towards legitimate governance) but most of all between people, who are at the ultimate beneficiaries. Through shared experiences capacities can be built and better mutual understanding developed. The work of human rights defenders could also be further acknowledged by both European and African parties.
The role of civil society is essential: as “producers” of governance, as “watchdogs” monitoring practices… More space and capacities should be made available to it, yet the latter should also itself respect several principles of “good governance”. Other actors that have been mentioned as key governance players include parliaments, courts of justice, economic and social committees and the police, and they should be given the mandate and means to act so.

  • “The EU should support African governments in meeting their obligations, and ensure that its own development co-operation meets international requirements”, Kate Gooding.
  • “If an EU-Africa Partnership must be viable and credible, Europe has to be on the side of the African Continent (Lands & Peoples) NOT merely its Figure Heads (Political & Bureaucratic Leaders)”, Victor Onoviran (Nigeria).
  • “Les acteurs de la société civile doivent respecter les lois, éviter les fraudes fiscales, éviter de corrompre, soutenir l’Etat de droit.” Charles Mukandirwa Wetemwami.

On Trade and Regional Integration:

The issue of agriculture has taken centre stage in the first round of comments received under the Trade and Regional integration cluster and was approached from different angles. The EU and other developed countries’ agricultural policies and subsidies was highlighted as a major factor hindering sustainable development in Africa, at a time when the continent derives its livelihood from the agricultural sector. Several comments were also made as to the structural constraints that impact on the competitiveness of African productive sectors. The provision of EU’s assistance in developing good standards of animal welfare was suggested as a way to opening new market opportunities with the EU and producing additional income, as well as increasing technical expertise and wide scale infrastructures across the continent. It has also been recommended that the EU and the AU upgrade their dialogue in order to examine common positions in global fora such as the WTO.

  • “If there is one policy alone that is responsible for Africa’s high levels of poverty, it is the common agricultural policy (CAP) in the EU (and other farm support mechanisms in Japan, the US and Australia).” Andrew Allimadi (Ethiopia)
  • “A real debate should take place between the AU and the EU on the issues related to world trade in order to reach common views to be negotiated in the WTO forum, that should become a world organization for development.” Jacques Gerard (France)

On Peace and Security:

Most of the contributions made on the issue of peace and security in EU-Africa relations agree on the close link between development and security. They also recognise the need to focus on human security, peace-building, and address the root causes of conflict, namely poverty, bad governance, weak capacity of the state administration, lack of democratisation, human rights violations, impunity, illicit exploitation of natural resources, poor productive capacity, trade in small arms and light weapons, etc.
And what is the most adequate framework or level to address the prevention and resolution of conflicts in Africa? While all recognize the importance of the AU, some expressed reservations as to the capacity, adequacy and effective political will of the AU to play that role, and call for the AU to redefine its relations with African Regional Eonomic Communities (RECs).
Building capacity in Africa, assure African ownership of the African Peace and Security Architecture, and how they can be best supported by the EU and the international community in general in their efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts in the continent, is a key issue and a prime priority that many of the contributors highlighted.

  • “Sans paix (..) impossibilité d’un quelconque développement,” Mame Gnilane N’Diaye.
  • “C’est bien de penser à soutenir les forces de maintien de la paix, mais les actions les plus efficacies résident dans la prévention des conflicts,” Charles Mukandirwa Wetemwani.
  • “The AU history if full of inconsistent policies and lack of political will to denounce some leaders. AU needs new vision comparable with the new challenges on this world and shake off the old boys association mentality”, James Nyawo (Zimbabwe).

About the consultation process

The public consultation takes place on the internet, but is also spread across the two continents through different conferences and seminars. The aim is that the ideas generated through these events will be shared and further debated on the web site. Please let us know of any events that you are planning, so we can put them in the calendar.

Learn more about the consultation process:

Organisers of the consultation / Who can participate? / Why this consultation? / The basis for the consultation / Consultation timeline / Opportunities offered by the consultation / Limitations to the consultation / How will the consultation take place? / Getting progress updates / About the web site / How to participate

How is the public consultation linked to the institutional negotiation?

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