An idea to develop a new impetus in Africa-Europe relations on the eve of the 4th EU-Africa Summit
A new impetus in Africa-Europe relations is sorely needed. By the middle of the twenty-first century, Africa and Europe will have 2.5 billion citizens that share a common border with close economic, cultural and linguistic ties that need to peacefully co-exist.
If current trends persist then security and development will remain at the top of the priorities of the two continents. Both Europe and Africa must focus on this core area of mutual interest in the long term.
The 4th Africa – EU summit takes place in Brussels on 2 – 3 April. For the convening leaders, I am proposing a Euro-African Alliance (Treaty) for Peace, Security and Development.
My argument is built around seven pillars, outlined in further detail in my paper. These are:
- Peace and security can act as the mainspring of EU-Africa relations;
- There will be ever growing common challenges in Europe and Africa in an area inhabited by 2.5 billion people by 2050;
- The management, prevention, and resolving of crises and their consequences for Africa and Europe will become an ever more pressing need.
- The security-development nexus will demand a multi-dimensional long-term approach;
- Both Africa and Europe need to pool resources to a critical mass in order to address these issues effectively;
- The Joint Africa-EU Strategy needs to evolve to become a security and defence Treaty between the two Unions as well as a political alliance
The road towards a Euro-African Alliance for Peace, Security and Development
On substance my proposal suggests to go beyond the current policy framework of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership and the rhetoric of the Summit meetings that take place every three years. To be recognised and effective, the commitments by the partners on both sides of the Mediterranean must be fixed in a formal agreement that will consolidate the Africa-EU Partnership into a legally binding framework.
In Europe, although it is up to the EU institutions to inject a new momentum in this area, Member States should take their responsibility, hence the need for a binding agreement, which they cannot evade according to national interests.
Neither the Cotonou Agreement and its ACP nebula, nor the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) in their current state can meet this dual concern of strategic and legal commitment. Both provide a starting point to the feasibility of the project I propose - Cotonou for the legal force of its framework and the JAES for the political dialogue between the two Unions with its new approaches to security and international cooperation.
My proposal is financially and politically feasible as a pragmatic and legal variation of the Strategic Partnership outlined in Lisbon in 2007 and confirmed in Tripoli in 2010. It draws lessons from experience - from the Libyan crisis, Mali, Somalia and the 'Arab Springs' and other regional or international security challenges.
Offering a real anchor point for a revival of the European defence project with the ambition to better link peace, security and development, the proposal would in turn meet the expectations of citizens on both sides of the Mediterranean. It could also enhance the mutual promotion of strategic interests between the EU and Africa as a whole (AU + Morocco).
The fundamental issues of EU-Africa relations in the coming years will be the conflicts, crises and the consequences of the Arab Spring. A more ambitious and more integrated partnership approach will have to succeed the current practise of interventions in 'silos' through national means or instruments of the kind seen in the EU’s African Peace Facility.
In Europe, the mutualisation of security and defence resources, urged by the Euro and budgetary crises, could lead to a revival of the European defence policy. Between Europe and Africa, an international treaty in the form of an Alliance for peace, security and development would address more effectively the common challenges of the two continents. It would further optimise the pooling of resources on the two sides whilst boosting the integration process of the two Unions.
It is now time to take Europe-Africa relations to the next level.
Philippe Darmuzey, is an Honorary Director European Commission and is a former Director of the Pan African Division in the European Commission’s DG DEVCO.
He writes this in a personal capacity and the views expressed may not represent that of ECDPM
Photo courtesy of the European External Action Service (EEAS)
 Strategic Partnership and Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) adopted at the Lisbon Summit, 7-8 December 2007.