Monday, November 27, 2006

Defense of governance is the first step in fighting poverty

In December 2005, the European Council adopted a new EU Strategy for Africa. It is the first European political framework to address Africa as a single entity and a solid platform to improve the coordination, coherence and consistency of the EU's policies and instruments supporting Africa with those of its Member States. The first review of the Strategy will take place at the December 2006 European Council.

Key points include the following:

The EU/Africa Dialogue has intensified, through the Ministerial Troika meetings, the visit of the European Commission to Addis Ababa to meet with the African Union (AU) Commission, the biannual Joint Task Force meetings at the level of senior officials and an ever increasing number of working level contacts. The dialogue has resulted in an EU-AU joint implementation matrix to monitor commitments and the first discussions for a future "Joint EU/Africa Strategy" to be submitted for adoption by the second EU/Africa Summit. To flank and support the dialogue, the Commission has approved a €55 million institutional support programme to the AU.

The Commission has taken the EU Strategy for Africa as a starting point for the programming of relevant EU aid instruments; in particular the 10th European Development Fund (€22.7 billion for the period 2008 – 2013, 90% of which will be allocated to Sub-Saharan Africa) and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument for partner countries in North Africa.

Numerous actions have been taken in the area of Peace and Security, notably including a support of €242 million for the AU mission in Sudan and support to the operation in the Central African Republic lead by CEMAC (Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa). The funding of the African Peace Facility (€50 million in the short term and €300 million for the period 2008 – 2010) and an EU Concept for strengthening African capabilities for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts has been established. The EU has also been very active in the areas of post-conflict reconstruction, including in Security Sector Reform and Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration in a number of countries. The European Commission and the Council General Secretariat are also working on the provision of assistance to the counter-terrorism centre of the AU (the African Centre for Study and Research on Terrorism, CAERT) to increase the capacity of both the centre and of the Member States of the AU and has diligently pursued its policies to stem the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons.

Much attention was devoted to the promotion of human rights, the rule of law and good governance through a strengthened political dialogue with partner countries and new programmes in African countries that increasingly address governance support in a holistic way. EU Election Observation missions have been active in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Zambia.

To strengthen the framework for supporting good governance, the Commission launched the Communication “Governance in the European Consensus on Development – towards a harmonised approach in the EU”, on which the Council adopted Conclusions in the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 16/17 October. To implement this approach, a sum of €2.7 billion has been earmarked in the 10th EDF (2008 – 2013) as an incentive allocation for countries that pursue governance reforms.

To step up the support to the development of Africa’s infrastructure, the Commission has proposed an EU-Africa Partnership on Infrastructure. A total of €5.6 billion from the 10th EDF has been allocated to support the Partnership. The Partnership will therefore also be supported by a new financial fund for infrastructure in Africa, implemented jointly with the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The first EU-Africa Business Forum will take place 16/17 November 2006 in Brussels to boost private sector development and encourage European investors to consider opportunities in Africa.

Discussions are taking place on modalities for Community support to the AU in setting up the Nyerere Programme (a student exchange programme between African Universities and research institutions), and an "ACP window" in the Erasmus Mundus programme is likely to be provided in 2007 to enable more African students to take part in post-graduate courses in Europe.

Article by Cecilia Thorfinn, Desk Officer for Pan‑African issues and implementation of the EU Strategy for Africa, DG DEV, published in November 2006 issue of the eCourier - the online newsletter of ACP-EU development cooperation.

See the Euforic dossiers on governance and Africa