Africa-EU Dialogue

Europe’s relationship with Africa is deeply rooted in history and has gradually evolved into a strong partnership.

  • Historical overview of the relationship
  • Frequency and level of the meetings
  • Actors that play a role in the dialogue
  • ENP – a part of the Africa-EU Strategy
  • Cotonou Agreement
  • Summits (AU and EU)
  • Future Events

Historical overview of the relationship

Since the historic first Africa-EU Summit in Cairo in 2000 (historical overview – PDF), where the Africa-EU partnership was strengthened, considerable change has taken place on both continents. Democratization and reform processes have been launched and are being deepened in both Africa and Europe and efforts have continued on both continents to address conflict and crisis situations. At the same time, integration processes on both continents have accelerated – on the one hand, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) has been transformed into the African Union (AU) with its socioeconomic programme, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); on the other hand, the European Union (EU) has nearly doubled in size and is in the process of deepening the Union. The world has also changed: new international and global challenges have emerged, globalization has accelerated and the world has become increasingly interdependent.

Thus, seven years after the first EU-Africa Summit and due to institutional changes on in Africa and Europe (Challenges facing the Joint Strategy – PDF), the Lisbon Summit brought the EU-Africa dialogue back to the highest political level. It has approved the Joint Africa-EU Strategy- a strategy that was very much needed after such a long period. This Strategy stipulates a new form for partnership- a genuine partnership- and takes Africa as one. The challenges will be in the implementation as the current financial and operative instruments are not prepared for the Joint Strategy.
Read more about Africa-EU Strategic Partnership

Frequency and level of the meetings

The dialogue between the two partners expresses itself in different stages. There are 7 different engagement possibilities between those two partners when it comes to the implementation of the Joint Strategy.

The EU-Africa dialogue takes place on these different stages

1) Summits with the next Summit taken place in Sirte Libya in 2010 (Every 3 years)

2) Africa-EU Ministerial Meetings that are playing a major role in the monitoring the Joint Strategy and Action Plan. Read more

3) Joint Africa-EU Task Force (JTF) meetings on key issues in the Africa-EU dialogue. Read more

4) On the expert level through Informal Joint Africa-EU Expert Groups (JEG) that will ensure the implementation of the Action Plan. The EC and the AUC will take part in each of these groups. Read more

5) And of course there is a close relationship between European Parliament and Pan-African Parliament

The EC-AUC dialogue takes place through these channels:

1) The Annual College-to-College meetings between the European Commission and AUC where mainly political matters are discussed. The last college-to-college meeting took place in October 2008 in Brussels. Read more
2) The Africa Working Group (COAFR), a Brussels-based cross pillar working group with a mandate covering Pan-African issues for both Sub-Saharan and Northern Africa.

Actors that play a role in the dialogue

The European Union and the African Union and with the help of Civil Society Organizations are the main actors in the implementation and monitoring process of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy.
Read more about the roles of the various actors

The ENP – a part of the Africa- EU Strategy

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)was developed in 2004, with the objective of avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and our neighbours and instead strengthening the prosperity, stability and security of all concerned. In this way, it also addresses the strategic objectives set out in the December 2003 European Security Strategy. Thus, the ENP is involved partly in the implementation and monitoring of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy having Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco and integrated in their partnership. The key challenges will be to merge the objectives of the Barcelona process and the ENP with the objectives of Africa-EU Strategy.

Cotonou Revision

The Cotonou Agreement was concluded for a twenty-year period from March 2000 to February 2020. It entered into force in April 2003, following a three-year transitional period due to ratification deadlines. While preserving the ‘acquis’ of twenty-five years of EU-ACP relations, the Cotonou Agreement introduced radical changes and ambitious objectives to a number of areas of EU-ACP cooperation. A revision clause, article 95 of the Cotonou Agreement, foresees that the Agreement is adapted every five years (with the exception of the economic and trade provisions, for which there is a special review procedure). Thus the next revision will take place in 2010. Thus, it will be seen how the upcoming revision will take the Joint Strategy into account.

Summits (AU and EU)

Africa-EU Summits

1st Africa-EU Summit, Cairo, 2000
2nd Africa-EU Summit, Lisbon, 2007
3rd Africa-EU Summit, probably Libya, 2010

AU Summits

9th AU Summit, Ghana, July 2007
10th AU Summit, Addis, Jan 2008
11th AU Summit, Cairo, July, 2008