Towards a strong future-oriented relationship with Africa

Resolution submitted by Political Commission 3: External Affairs and Global Governance.
Adopted by the online Federal Committee on 5 April 2020. Re-adopted and amended by the Federal Committee in Prague on 13 November 2022.

Historically, the European Union (EU) and its Member States have had a very close relationship with the African Union and its Member States. Today, the EU remains the biggest trading partner of Africa. However, the relationship is changing and other actors like China are increasing their presence on the African continent, further diminishing Europe’s role in Africa.

In recent years, apart from cooperation and investments, the EU’s foreign policy towards Africa has focused on other topics: externalising migration to third countries and fighting terrorism. This approach has put a strain on the EU-Africa relationship and has received strong criticism by civil society organisations on both continents.

JEF Europe advocates to transform the EU’s relationship with Africa into a real strategic partnership. The EU should develop a European institutional and political “single voice” in dealing with African countries and continental and regional institutions, with concrete action plans and integration projects to support the sustainable development of Africa and its countries into a
prosperous, stable and competitive neighbour. This strategy also needs to include a strong vision of the partnership to address global challenges like climate change.

JEF Europe,

  • Recalling that JEF Europe’s Political Platform states that a common European foreign policy based on the respect of universal human rights, the promotion of peace and prosperity, and the fight against climate change is crucial for addressing the globalised challenges the international community faces;
  • Recalling that JEF Europe’s Political Platform states that a common European foreign policy needs to follow the principle of multilateralism and promote regional and continental integration in order to secure peace and stability;
  • Highlighting that the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals should be the guiding principles in the relationship between Europe and Africa;
  • Recognising that Europe carries a historical responsibility for colonialism and its negative effects on the African continent, and acknowledging that this legacy needs to be addressed together with African partners in order to establish a partnership based on mutual respect and equality;
  • Recognising that individual European Member States continue to have a strong interest in the African states that they colonised in the past, and that this close relationship is not always mutually beneficial;
  • Taking into account the African Union’s (AU) ambitious 50-year “Agenda 2063”, which, together with its first 10-year implementation plan, created a strategic framework for advancing and following up on Africa’s development;
  • Recognising that, since the Schuman Declaration, promoting development in Africa has been a goal for Europe, progressively extending development assistance throughout the continent and today covering a political partnership enshrined in the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES);
  • Considering that the European Union is collectively Africa’s main foreign investor, principal trading partner, a key security provider, its main source of remittances and its principal partner in development and humanitarian assistance;
  • Highlighting that sustainable and inclusive economies are of benefit for both continents and their creation should become a core priority in future discussions and subsequent initiatives;
  • Highlighting the benefits of cooperation on higher education as a driver of economic and social development, and welcoming the increased cooperation on higher education as part of the AU-EU partnership and the rise in Erasmus+ exchanges;
  • Welcoming the European Commission’s commitment to strengthening exchanges between European and African youth, as expressed in the Youth Action Plan in EU External Action published in October 2022;
  • Observing that the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, aimed at addressing the root causes of irregular migration, is undermined by scarce contributions from EU Member States, and that the new migration partnership framework with African countries raised many concerns from NGOs on human rights, rule of law standards and protection mechanisms not being prioritised under this framework;
  • Acknowledging that African countries have accommodated many more refugees than European countries, and the specific burden it places on these countries;
  • Acknowledging that Africa is disproportionately hit by the effects of climate change while its contribution to it has been much smaller than other continents;
  • Disapproving of the way the EU and its Member States have aimed to recast existing civilian crisis management tools as counter-terrorist and counter-migration mechanisms, mainly being driven by a securitarian approach;
  • Regretting that, with so many financial instruments the EU established to promote development in Africa, this policy was mainly financed by national contributions collected outside the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, away from the scrutiny of the European Parliament; and taking into account the Wise Persons Group recommendations on the future of the European financial architecture for development;
  • Welcoming the consolidation of all development funds and their inclusion of the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) in the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027;
  • Regretting that huge illicit financial flows funnel public resources out of Africa, including profits from the extraction of natural resources, which therefore cannot be invested for the benefit of African citizens;
  • Considering that the exploitation of natural resources by European colonial powers and post-colonial African governments, as well as climate change, have exacerbated inequalities between communities and continents, particularly endangering the livelihoods of rural communities dependent on natural resources;
  • Noting that during the 21st century, the role and influence of China has grown in Africa, making China the 2nd biggest trading partner after the EU. Through internal policies China has encouraged Chinese private sector to invest huge sums of money to Africa, especially focusing on strategically important areas, such as ports, railroads and energy sector, which has led to growth of influence by China in the internal affairs of several African countries;
  • Noting with concern the rising debt levels in certain African countries, often linked to Chinese investments, and the pressure debt service is putting on domestic budgets in Africa;
  • Highlighting that EU investment policy in Africa as it is planned so far is raising concerns from NGOs because it risks benefiting multinational corporations and the European private sector more than the local private sector in Africa;

JEF Europe, therefore,

  1. Calls on the EU and its Member States to work less for but more with Africa – with the African Union and regional organisations, governments, local authorities and civil society – so that African citizens have real ownership over the partnership;
  2. Objects to the idea of individual EU Member States pursuing their individual strategic interests in African countries under the guise of EU foreign policy, instead calls for stronger coordination led and facilitated by the EU through the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EEAS and the Commissioner for International Partnerships as a first step towards a common EU Foreign Policy;
  3. Stresses the need to move AU-EU relations out of the sphere of mere intergovernmental exchanges and summits and follow the spirit of the Joint Africa EU Strategy (JAES) advocating a people-centred approach through which citizens and the role of civil society and political movements are enhanced and through which there is an increased exchange between the European Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament;
  4. Acknowledges that regional integration can support Africa’s growth potential and act as a catalyst for peace and prosperity and calls on the EU to promote regional integration and to exchange technical advice on this matter, for instance in support of the African Continental Free Trade Area or the creation of an African education and research area, including an intra-African mobility scheme;
  5. Supports pan-African and regional federalist movements on the African continent, especially the youth movements and will look for opportunities to strengthen partnerships between European and African civil society movements;
  6. Calls on the EU and the AU, as regionally integrative projects and representatives of the global north and south respectively, to support a global and federalist approach to tackling the climate crisis that is both just in its treatment of developing countries, yet decisive in offsetting the worst effects of climate change;
  7. Calls on the EU and its Member States to consider the lack of policy coherence for development, the negative effects certain policies, such as agricultural and trade policies, have on sustainable development around the world and especially in Africa, and how this affects the credibility of the EU’s leadership in sustainable development;
  8. Calls on the EU to strengthen its engagement with other international actors in Africa, wherever possible to ensure that all actors are complementary in supporting Africa’s sustainable social and economic development, compatible with the promotion of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  9. Calls on the EU to increase the cooperation with higher education institutions in Africa to harmonise qualifications and to expand exchanges as part of the Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe programme, particularly targeting women and students who are at risk of persecution because of their political activism;
  10. Demands that the EU and its Member States do not make development cooperation conditional on migration management and encourages the EU and its Member States to explore further options for legal migration, such as opportunities to apply for asylum on African soil; while ensuring that refugee camps respect international humanitarian principles and human rights law;
  11. Demands that EU humanitarian aid is scaled up to ensure that emergency aid reaches its target in order to avert an immediate humanitarian disaster in several African regions and that this aid directly reaches local populations and communities;
  12. Demands that the EU and its Member States reach their so long and so often promised commitment of spending 0.7% of its GNI on Official Development Assistance to support sustainable development, especially in the Least Developed Countries;
  13. Demands that every financial instrument that might be created outside the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 goes through the scrutiny of the European Parliament to strengthen democratic control, accountability and transparency;
  14. Supports the creation of a European Development Bank to consolidate the development effort of both the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and European Investment Bank, and in a second place the national development budgets, to better fulfil EU’s foreign policy goals and its development impact;
  15. Demands that the EU tightens its transparency and accountability regulation to close the existing loopholes and tackle illicit financial flows coming from Africa and simultaneously calling on the EU to step up diplomatic efforts to fight against corruption in Africa;
  16. Calls on the EU to strengthen global financial governance in multilateral and regional organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund, Paris Club, United Nations, OECD and the African Development Bank, by making lending more transparent and agreeing on equitable and fair workout mechanisms in case of a default;
  17. Calls for increased cooperation between European and African private sectors and for a concentration of investment in key sectors such as sustainable energy, basic infrastructure, sustainable use of natural resources and agriculture;
  18. Demands that the EU disseminate and implement UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Africa, to identify and clarify standards of corporate responsibility and accountability for transnational corporations and other enterprises with regard to human rights, enhancing accountability and access to a remedy in cases of business involvement in human rights abuses;
  19. Reaffirms that the EU should be committed to the support the AU in defending human rights everywhere in Africa and thus strongly supports joint efforts for the establishment of an AU-EU forum on democracy, human rights and elections to address deficiencies;
  20. Recommends the EU and its Member States to support Africa develop a strategy against the malign influence of external actors, focused on anti-coercion protection, diminish the risk of debt traps, and counter disinformation.