Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Perspectives and Strategies of the European Union's Africa Policy after the Lisbon Summit

The June 2008 issue of ‘Foreign Policy in Dialogue’ a quarterly newsletter on German and European foreign policy published by the University of Trier looks at ‘Perspectives and Strategies of the European Union’s Africa Policy after the Lisbon Summit’. The volume assesses the perspectives, strategies and motives of the common EU policy towards Africa. (download pdf file)

Siegmar Schmidt (University Koblenz-Landau) looks at the chances for a successful implementation of the EU-Africa Partnership Agreement. He concludes that the new agreement including its First Action Plan (2008-2010) is a breakthrough in terms of commitment and depth. Nonetheless he warns that assumptions regarding the institutional capacity of the African Union, seen as major partner in the agreement, might be built on sand.

“African politics are highly personalized, trust in institutions is exceptional. But the EU-Africa partnership requires effective or at least working administrative structures which are inexistent in many states.”

According to the author, only massive EU capacity building support and the avoidance of over ambitious goals might avoid failure.

Siegfried Schieder (Trier University) questions the partnership approach entailed in the new relationship. Assessing the EU-ACP relationship of the last decades, characterized by trade and development cooperation, he shows clear imbalances between the two sides. However, the author concludes that new political element,s including peace and security or migration, within the relationship might lead towards a real partnership:

“[the EU-Africa Partnership] offers the opportunity to reduce asymmetries between Europe and Africa even while trade and development cooperation remains stuck in traditional patterns. A definition of the partnership beyond symbolism and without the patina of development would in itself be a success for both the EU and Africa.”

Tom Gawaya Tegulle (Columnist with The Daily Monitor, Uganda) calls for a revision of the paradigm of common values between the EU and Africa. He is convinced that old African leaders will only comply with European standards regarding human rights or good governance out of self-interest and not out of personal conviction or to serve their electorate.

“… much of what Europe would like to see in Africa will only come when nature or constructive societal evolution has phased out the current breed of Africa’s leaders who are more interested in self-preservation and their ego than in the service to their country and subservience to the social cause.”

Other contributions to the issue deal with the role of political foundations within the EU-Africa Partnership or the cooperation within the area of peace and security.

by Martin Behrens

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