Developments From The EU-AU Summit That May Impact EU-Africa Relations in 2023 And Beyond
In 2022, the European Union (EU) – African Union (AU) Summit took place from 17-18th February and contributed to a “joined vision for a renewed partnership” commemorating and putting into action the wider “aims of […] solidarity, security, peace and sustainable and sustained economic development and prosperity”. To recall the words of Charles Michel, President of the European Council from 18th February 2022,
“Working as a team with our African and European friends we prepared this summit over many months, because we wanted to make it a different kind of summit. We thought it was necessary to draw up the agenda together, and to work out a method together that would enable us to listen to each other”Charles Michel, President of the European Council
With Michel having underlined that listening and teamwork are the only way to help EU-Africa relations and regional development thrive, the Joined Vision for 2030 pointed out that the EU will, among others: 1.) support “African health sovereignty”, 2.) support the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, 3.) combat illicit financial flows, 4.) step up efforts to scientific cooperation, 5.) stimulate and contribute investments as well as a commitment to driving up economic integration, 6.) work towards both peace and security, and a partnership for migration and mobility with the AU, 7.) work together with the AU towards “promot[ing an] effective multilateralism within the rules-based international order, with the UN at its core”. With the latter objectives having been ambitious, it might be interesting to speculate what a 2023 EU-AU Summit might address.
At the occasion of a review of the latter strategy, which was carried out through the AU and the EU at the ending of November 2022, Transparency International (TI) created awareness around the issue that CSOs around the globe were eyeing on the “CJEU ruling on beneficial ownership transparency” with a decent bit of scepticism and worry considering that “‘[i]llicit financial flows rob African nations of almost US$89 billion each year’”. As TI cited, the Center for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch (CEFTIW) have criticized that African “phantom firms”, which use Europe as a gateway for illicit funds, are doing business at the cost of societal development, for instance, in the areas of education and health. Other organizations and commentators followed suit, stating that “public registers of beneficial ownership information deliver benefits for anti-corruption, provide a fair and transparent trading environment for businesses, and help increase trust in government”.
Whereas joint efforts towards a successful reconciliation between privacy rights and anti-corruption work marked one hot topic right after the CJEU ruling, relevant topics during the review related to the following areas, which partially fall under the umbrella of the Global Gateway Africa-Europe Investment Package:
- Economic integration and its link with connectivity (i.e. digitization, energy, regional trade etc.)
- Human development-related cooperation areas (i.e. health, migration, education, science etc.)
- Resilience-building to support communities (i.e. tackling multiple crises)
- Peace-, security- and governance-related work
Thereby, the EU promised a €750 million commitment to infrastructure investments, “in the areas of transport (including strategic corridors), digitalisation and energy connectivity in Africa”. As Benjamin Fox wrote on Euractiv back in November 2022, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, had, at that time, been remarking that the EU was “‘losing Africa little by little’”. In other words, the reemphasis on the Global Gateway programme marked, at least, a step towards maintaining and cultivating the Africa-EU relationship amid tough times. With regard to tackling food security in Africa, the EU announced a further commitment of €570 million, next to which a joint task force will “identify short and long-term challenges related to [the] access and affordability of fertilizers”. Agreeing further on a high-level dialogue on economic integration, the opportunities, which strategic value chains have to offer, will be explored more deeply in the future, which, in turn, may set the basis for a strengthened sector-, product- or industry-specific EU-AU trade.
With regard to the energy sector, both the EU and the AU were said to “welcom[e] progress in the development of the electricity Continental Master Plan as the ‘blueprint’ of the African Single Electricity Market (AfSEM)”, and with regard to the AU-EU Innovation Agenda, the two commissions looked back at the successful Innovation Fair in Nairobi, which took place from 23rd to 24th November 2022. Next to working on the latter objectives, the EU-AU meeting established a high-level dialogue on economic integration and welcomed the AfCFTA Secretariat’s research on 100 high-potential value chains. Aiming to strengthen peace and security in Africa, the two commissions also reemphasized the EU’s commitment through the €600 million European Peace Facility and support operations on the African side, which run from 2022-2024. Furthermore, it was underlined that efforts are on the way to strategize together on the rule-based order in the domain of peace and security, which encompass the EU’s support to the AU Human Rights Compliance Framework. In the domain of governance, the EU will additionally support the AU’s transitional and election justice compass.
Further liaising with the United Nations (UN) and the EU on a strategy to address the situation of stranded migrants and refugees in Libya, that is, through the tripartite task force which was “revitalize[d]” during the EU-AU Summit, the cooperation between the EU and the AU on economic integration and energy matters may go a long way as it opens the door to talk about matters of justice. Even though the debate around climate justice is currently at the forefront of global and regional politics, it should not be forgotten that many countries are still faced with challenges in the area of migration that can cost so many lives. After Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni presented a “‘Mattei Plan’ for Africa” at the Mediterranean Dialogues (MED) in Rome in December 2022, seeking to strengthen the country’s position in EU-Africa matters and, in particular, in the area migration, it has become clear that energy politics and migration matters could become tied together more closely. As stated in an article on Euractiv, Meloni suggested that Italy would seek a collaborative approach to the cooperation with oil hosting countries, additionally remarking that the “‘concerning evolution of Islamist radicalism’ could also be fought more effectively, ‘particularly in the sub-Saharan area’”. Whatever Italy’s interest may be, it is undeniable that energy insecurity can affect refugees tremendously with any efforts to provide energy security having to, arguably, be morally and practically tied to standing up for migrant and immigration detention justice.
Are you an entrepreneur, a start-up or a SME with the goal to start up between or in Africa and Germany? Then our team will happily assist you on the legal side! We are specialized both in supporting multicultural businesses in Germany, in supporting African businesses in Germany and in supporting businesses across various African jurisdictions. While our support starts with providing help on immigration and relocation matters, it does not stop there – taxes, tech, intellectual property…You heard us! Contact us today to find out more!