Africa EU Joint Task Force Meeting

Africa and Europe in Partnership 1. The Twelfth meeting of the Joint Africa-EU Task Force (JTF) was held on 4-5 April 2011 in Brussels, Belgium. The opening plenary session was co-chaired on the EU side, by Mr. Nicholas Westcott, Managing Director of the Africa Department of the European External Action Service (EEAS), and Mr. Klaus Rudischhauser, Director, DG Development Cooperation in the European Commission. On the AU side, the meeting was co-chaired by Amb. John Kayode Shinkayé, Chief of Staff in the Bureau of the Chairperson of the AU Commission. The meeting was also attended by co-chairs of the Joint Expert Groups (JEGs), the Chair of the African Union, the European parliament, Civil Society from both continents, senior officials of the two Commissions and the EEAS.

2. The Co-chairs welcomed the participants and explained the changes introduced to the EU and AU institutional set up and their implications on the political dialogue between Africa and the EU. On the EU side, Mr. Westcott explained the responsibilities of the newly set up EEAS (1 January 2011) and how it had already facilitated the alignment of the EU and AU positions in concrete crisis situations since then. The EEAS will enable the EU to become a more effective partner. On the AU side, Ambassador Shinkayé explained the new African Union follow up mechanism and composition for the Political Dialogue Meetings at Expert, Senior Officials and ministerial levels, as decided at the AU Summit in January 2011.

3. As regards the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, in view of the next College to College meeting (Brussels, 31 May-1 June 2011) the Co-chairs emphasised that following the adoption of the second Action Plan, more focus should be put on implementation, a matter of shared responsibility, to which resources need to be made available. The co-Chairs called on the Joint Expert Groups to focus on prioritisation of activities and the delivery of concrete outcomes through developing clear roadmaps. The co-Chairs agreed on the need to explore all possible avenues, including existing and new instruments, to finance the implementation of the JAES. Mr. Rudischhauser informed that the European Commission is currently looking into possibilities to address the issue of a “Pan-African financing Instrument” in the Commission proposal for the new EU budget post 2013. Amb. Shinkayé underlined the need to uphold the spirit of an equal partnership and to treat Africa as one. He called on the EU to consider the African proposal for the establishment of the Pan-African Integration Facility. Both sides agreed to continue to engage on these proposals and to exchange views on the establishment of a mechanism to support and facilitate the effective functioning of the JEGs.

4. The JTF noted with satisfaction that much progress had been achieved and looked forward to the successful outcome of the forthcoming tripartite (AUC-EC-UN) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on administrative cooperation.

5. Civil society from both sides expressed their appreciation for their involvement in the meeting and stressed the continued need for a more inclusive and people-centered approach to the implementation of the JAES.

6. A JAES Forum was organised to ensure an effective outreach by bringing together key stakeholders of the JAES to network and exchange information on the thematic partnerships.

7. A bilateral meeting between Amb. Shinkayé, Director Rudischhauser and EEAS colleagues discussed inter alia :
•    the division of labour between the EEAS and Commission services with regard to the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES);
• possible solutions to the JAES financing problems including a technical support facility, the African Integration Facility (AIF), and an EU Pan-African Instrument in the framework of the next multi-annual financial perspectives;
•    the preparation of the next EC-AUC College-to-College meeting on 31.05-01.06.2011 in Brussels,
• challenges and possible solutions with regard to the financial management of the 55ME support programme and the African Peace Facility (APF), including recovery orders;
•    the need for Africa to be treated as One, as envisaged in the JAES;
•    specific financing shortfalls for the Energy- and Infrastructure Partnership;
•    various legal issues, including the H. Habré trial, Universal Jurisdiction, and the ICC, as well as opportunities and challenges;
•    the way ahead on the APF following the postponement of the JCC, including the planned video-conference with RECs and the AU’s request for ERM-support for mediation in the Libyan crisis;
•    the pending appointment of the new AU Head of Mission to the EU in Brussels.

8. A specific meeting to discuss the financing of the JAES took place. At the Tripoli Summit, “both sides agree to further engage, without delay, in the discussions on the African proposals to jointly establish an African Integration Facility to support the implementation of the Joint Strategy and its Action Plan”. Agreement was reached on the urgent need to explore possibilities to set-up an instrument that would address the financing shortfalls of the JAES and its successive Action Plans. Some critical issues still need to be further clarified, notably the scope and management of the instrument, as well as the criteria to select the specific activities to be financed. However, some guiding principles can already be retained, notably the clear added-value, the cross-regional, continental or inter-continental dimension and the principle of subsidiarity. The process and timelines will have to be carefully defined. They must take into account the necessary consultations on both sides to ensure the necessary ownership and political momentum, and should link in the calendar for the establishment of the EU’s post-2013 financial perspectives.

9. In the meantime, the financing of the second Action Plan adopted at the Nov.2010 Summit for the period 2011-13 will have to continue through the mainstreaming of the JAES activities in existing instruments. The 2011 Mid-Term Review of the Intra-ACP and the Regional Indicative Programmes of the European Development Fund, and equivalent reviews of the ENPI programmes, will offer major opportunities in this prospect. No efforts should be spared on both sides to achieve significant results that would benefit the JAES.

10. To facilitate the implementation of the JAES, the last Summit agreed “to examine the possibility of establishing a small, flexible and demand-driven assistance mechanism to address implementation difficulties and to provide the necessary technical, administrative and secretarial support for the implementation of the JAES Action Plan 2011-2013”. Given the time and procedural constraints on both sides, the discussions between the two Commissions will be pursued urgently in order to allow setting-up such a mechanism before the end of the second Action Plan timeline.

Access the full JTF meeting report here.

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