Level Play Ground

The Heads of State and government of the member states of the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) met for the sixth European Union - African Union Summit in Brussels on 17 and 18 February 2022. The meeting was co-chaired by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel and the President of Senegal and the Chairperson of the AU, Macky Sall. For over 20 years, governments from the African Union and the European Union have been holding regular discussions in order to establish strategic partnership. Their aim is to work together on major issues such as peace, security, human rights, and trade for the mutual benefit of all sides, but lately, talks at the highest political level have stalled. Almost five years have passed since the last summit, held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, in 2017. This is partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and also because the two sides could not agree on which topics they should focus on and how they should be framed. At a summit planned for 2020, the Heads of State of both continents wanted to enact a new partnership as well as negotiate a follow-up regulation to the Cotonou Agreement, which governs the EU’s economic relations with more than 70 former colonies in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific region.  
Six months before the originally scheduled Summit, the European Commission proposed five central partnerships for African-European cooperation in a communication entitled “Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa”. They were: green transition and energy access; digital transformation; sustainable growth and jobs; peace, security, and good governance; and migration and mobility. But the subsequent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic not only saw the summit being postponed, it also meant the mutual expectations and priorities had to be rearranged. 
While big issues like the consequences of the global pandemic were high on the agenda, other topics, such as cooperation on migration, remained much further down the list. Migration and mobility should be thought of as key part and opportunity for cooperation. While EU is urging African countries to secure their borders better in order to prevent illegal migrants from reaching Europe by providing money and equipment, they forget that the objective must be jointly and constructively handled because people are not only migrating to Europe, migration within Africa is also significant. At the end of 2018 there were close to 6.8 million refugees and 17.8 million internally displaced persons living on the African continent. In comparison, there were 2.6 million registered refugees in Europe, according to UNHCR. With an environmental protection investment package for the Green Deal afo...



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