Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Africa unbound

Brussels, 19 September. Friends of Europe today hosted an interesting debate on policy challenges for Africa.

In the context of the forthcoming Lisbon Summit and the proposed joint EU-Africa strategy, the UK's Baroness Amos defined the challenges that Africa faces and the type of partnership that is needed to counter them. In spite of some positive exceptions, the lack of sustainable development and the fragility of state institutions undermine the future progress of the whole continent. In addition, Africa's failures and successes have an impact on Europe. Therefore "Africa can't be ignored." Europe has to recognise this, and act upon it, through a "new level" of partnership with Africa, a "people centered partnership".

Taking these ideas forward, Herta Daubler-Gmelin from the German Bundestag underlined the importance of the Lisbon Summit for taking to the next step the positive results of the 2007 G8 summit. She argued that Lisbon needs to be a place where European and Africa leaders agree on a limited set of issues, but devise a concrete action plan to tackle them. Among all, priority should be given to health, but also on migration Europe needs to adopt a "positive approach."

MEP Ana Maria Gomes suggested that a joint EU-Africa strategy responds to the need for the two continents to jointly face different policy challenges; but how can this strategy be translated into reality? For Gomes, there is "no need to reinvent the wheel; instead, there is a need for real political commitment to face together the global challenges ahead." In practical terms, this translates in more aid effectiveness and more aid for trade. But above all, in a more structured and constant dialogue between the two continents.

Finnish MP Kimmo Kiljunen offered a different perspective, looking into the past to justify a Europe-Africa strategy. Recognising that Europe and Africa have a long history of interdependence this means recognising the role that Europe had in determining Africa's present situation. The joint strategy finds in this historical bounds its reasons and its main elements: more aid effectiveness; more coordination; common voice for Europe in international financial institutions; more aid for trade and economic cooperation; new sources for financing development.

More information on the Joint EU-Africa strategy

See Euforic's Africa-Europe dossier

Friends of Europe web site

story by Pier Andrea Pirani