Documents considered by the Committee on 15 December 2010 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

19 The EU-Africa Relationship



COM(10) 634

Commission Communication: On the consolidation of EU Africa relations — 1.5 billion people, 80 countries, two continents, one future
Legal base
Document originated10 November 2010
Deposited in Parliament24 November 2010
DepartmentInternational Development
Basis of considerationEM of 10 December 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (30069) 14632/08: HC 19-ix (2008-09), chapter 10 (4 March 2009) and HC 16-xxxvi (2007-08), chapter 14 (26 November 2008); also see (28780) 11362/07: HC 16-viii (2007-08), chapter 16 (16 January 2008), HC 41-xxxv (2006-07), chapter 1 (17 October 2007) and HC 41-xxxiii (2006-07), chapter 2 (2 October 2007)
Discussed in CouncilTo be determined
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


19.1 The Commission's earlier related Communication 11362/07 — "From Cairo to Lisbon: the EU-Africa Strategic Partnership" — proposed a partnership of equals going beyond traditional development co-operation and the EU's 2005 Africa Strategy, with the December 2007 Lisbon Summit (the second, after Cairo in 2000) making "strong action-oriented political commitments on current key international issues, notably climate change, migration, sustainable energy, governance and security", Heads of State and Government signing a Lisbon Declaration, and the first of a series of Action Plans being agreed, lasting for 2 years, until the next proposed Summit. Four jointly-agreed objectives were proposed:

—  reinforcing and elevating the EU-Africa political partnership;

—  continuing to promote peace and security, governance and human rights, trade and regional and continental integration in Africa, and other key development issues;

—  jointly addressing global challenges and efforts to mitigate the negative impact of the EU's recruitment of skilled health workers from Africa; and

—  facilitating and promoting a broad based and wide ranging people-centred partnership for all people in Africa and Europe.

19.2 Discussions during the autumn of 2007 led to the following framework:

—  the EU Africa Partnership on Peace and Security;

—  a Partnership on Democratic Governance and Human Rights;

—  the EU Africa Partnership on Trade and Regional Integration;

—  an EU Africa Partnership on the Millennium Development Goals;

—  the EU Africa Partnership on Energy;

—  the EU Africa partnership on Climate Change;

—  an EU Africa Partnership on Migration, Mobility and Employment; and

—  an EU Africa Partnership on Science, Information Society and Space.

19.3 The previous Committee's subsequent consideration of that Communication, from 2 October 2007 onwards, is set out in their previous Reports.[139]

19.4 Given the depth and complexity of the issues raised, and the central role of UK development thinking, practice and funding, both bilateral and via the European Development Fund, in this Partnership, the previous Committee also drew the latest of those Reports to the attention of the International Development Committee.

19.5 A later Commission Communication 14632/08 — One Year after Lisbon: The Africa-EU Partnership at Work — set out progress made on implementation of the Strategic Partnership agreed at the December 2007 Lisbon Summit in. It outlined the Commission's view of some of the main challenges ahead and made recommendations on how to move forward; and was intended to provide input for the joint progress report to be produced by the European Commission, the Secretariat of the Council and the African Union Commission in advance of the planned EU-AU Ministerial Troika on 20-21 November 2008.

19.6 The Communication recalled that the Strategic Partnership was intended to take the Africa-EU relationship "beyond development", "beyond Africa", and "beyond institutions". The Commission reported that this had begun to happen, but that more needed to be done in each of these areas to build a mature partnership with both sides on an equal footing. The Communication goes on to outline priorities for each of the eight thematic partnerships, highlighting milestones that had been achieved so far, and next steps which needed to be taken. It highlighted in particular, with regard to the Partnership on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the "Agenda for Action", adopted by the June 2008 European Council and described as an ambitious political commitment which set out how increased ODA promised by the EU could be used to help accelerate progress on the MDGs. Food security and agriculture were also identified as potential areas for early progress. The Communication noted that Peace and Security was one of the priorities for Africa-EU co-operation and within that mentioned the importance of building AU capacity. It also highlighted the importance of achieving a sustainable funding mechanism for Africa-led peace and security operations.

19.7 The Commission's recommendations focussed on accelerating progress on implementation, and broadening and consolidating the progress that has been made. Communication was identified as a key priority for all eight Partnerships and there were specific recommendations on consulting non-governmental "actors" (e.g. civil society, academia and the private sector), organising a structured dialogue with the European and Pan-African Parliaments, and enhancing cooperation with the UN and other international bodies. Bilateral policies and legal and financial frameworks should be adapted to deliver the Partnership objectives, by improving coordination across national governments to reflect the cross cutting nature of the Partnership and integrating the principles and priorities of the Partnership into programming decisions. The Commission called on the EU to reaffirm its political and financial commitments to Africa, and urged Africa to ensure the effective delivery of its commitments.

19.8 All of this was commented upon extensively by the then Parliamentary Secretary at Department for International Development (Mr Ivan Lewis) and the then Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with responsibility for Africa (Lord Malloch-Brown) both in their joint 5 November 2008 Explanatory Memorandum and in joint letters of 6 November 2008 and 5 February 2009, and is set out in the previous Committee's relevant Reports. Having scrutinised both framework-setting Communications, the previous Committee suggested that the process had now moved into questions of detailed implementation, and that further "updating" letters should now be sent to the International Development Committee.[140]

The Commission Communication

19.9 This Commission Communication was issued shortly before the third EU-Africa Summit on 29-30 November 2010, whose overarching theme was "Growth, Investment and Job Creation". It highlights relevant high-level developments on both continents since the 2007 Summit. It says that the EU remains Africa's most important political ally and a reliable trade and development partner. Having decided at the last EU-Africa Summit to place their relations on a new, equal and strategic footing, both now need to go further in order to live up to this ambition, including through the effective implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (the JAES). Emerging global players strengthening their presence in Africa and increasing South-South cooperation represent a healthy challenge for Africa-EU relations and call for a renewed focus on recognised strengths and added value, and for better coordination and identification of win-win situations.

19.10 While achieving the MDGs will remain at the heart of the Africa-EU Joint Strategy, the Commission sees a need to support Africa in strengthening its political and economic governance, and in reinforcing the regulatory, fiscal and business environment that allows better mobilizing of the continent's own assets in a sustainable way. The Commission sees engaging with the private sector and ensuring a financial leverage effect of development assistance as crucial, and the EU's 2020 Strategy as providing an inspiration for the EU's relations with Africa.

19.11 The Commission calls on Europe and Africa to build on the achievements of the Joint Strategy in order to increase its impact at global, continental and regional level. The lessons learnt the past three years show that the Joint Strategy has to better fulfil its potential and to become more responsive to present and future challenges. The relationship must effectively move beyond institutions and a fragmented, development-centric approach to jointly address global issues. Both sides must overcome their inconsistencies and develop channels for an effective interaction. [141]

19.12 Against this background, the Communication sets out five key common challenges:

—  achieving the Millennium Development Goals;

—   tackling threats to peace and security;

—   promoting democracy rule of law, governance and human rights;

—   strengthening the legitimacy and efficiency of multilateral institutions; and

—   combating climate change and environmental degradation.

19.13 The Communication then outlines a "Forward Looking Vision", encompassing a number of issues which will be the subject of further and separate discussions over the coming months, with the aim of delivering inclusive and sustainable growth. It concludes by arguing that at the November 2010 Summit, Africa and the EU need to develop a realistic vision for their future cooperation, translating the paradigm "from Donorship to partnership", and ensure that the the next Action Plan prioritises activities that have:

—  a clear regional, continental or global dimension, which is where the added value of the Joint Strategy lies;

—  a clear added value, are focused and streamlined, and reinforce complementarity and coherence with existing initiatives and fora, and align with African strategic priorities, their organisations and structures and their mechanisms at continental and regional levels;

—  a proven buy-in of a critical mass of competent actors.

The Government's view

—  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 10 December 2010, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for International Development (Stephen O'Brien) highlights three issues in particular:

—  treating "Africa as one" and the idea of a pan-African funding instrument in the next long term EU budget;

—  the recent Green Paper on "Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development" and the related public consultation;[142]

—   the Green Paper's ideas in relation to sustainable energy and how joint programmes should be put in place to provide sustainable energy to all citizens.

19.14 In these programmes, the Minister notes that EU development and climate change finance, the EU and developing countries and the energy industry and EU financial institutions could identify joint actions and reforms including investment protection, taxation and regional power collaboration.

19.15 The Minister goes on to say that there are no immediate implications for UK policy towards Africa. He agrees with the document's overall tone and emphasis and the need to strengthen the partnership between the EU and Africa. He describes the text as honest and fair in recognising shortcomings on both the EU and African sides in the implementation of the Strategy (the JAES), and agrees that any activities undertaken under the second JAES Action Plan (2011-2013) "should have a clear added value, be aligned with African priorities and be properly resourced."

19.16 He notes that the idea of "treating Africa as one" is something that African countries have long called for, but says that the implications for EU policy and legal frameworks, and financial instruments will need to be explored. He also notes that the negotiations on the next EU budget (2014-2020) will start in 2011 and says they are likely to include the possibility of a pan-African funding instrument within the EU budget.

19.17 He then notes that the European Development Fund (EDF) is "currently an off-budget Member States' voluntary fund for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, but which does not cover North Africa", and comments as follows:

"The UK's current position is that we want to maintain the European Development Fund (EDF) in its current form. If the EDF is 'budgetised' into the EU budget, this could mean that any underspend is absorbed back into the budget, rather than being ring-fenced for development work, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. EDF is also considered more effective than EU budget instruments in delivering aid. The Cotonou Agreement provides the legal framework for the relationship between the ACP and the EU, as well as funding under the EDF. The most recent (2010) five-yearly revision of Cotonou strengthened the language on support for regional strategies such as the JAES, but this is not specifically mentioned in this communication."

19.18 With regard to the Green Paper, the Minister welcomes the proposed public consultation, the outcome of which and emerging policy ideas are, he says, likely to have an impact on the EU-Africa Partnership.

19.19 Finally, the Minister says that this Communication did not go to a Council but was a reflection of the discussions over the last year on the EU Africa Partnership and the agreed 2nd Action Plan in the lead up to the EU-Africa High Level Political Dialogue (previously "Ministerial Troika") which took place in Lilongwe, Malawi on 19 November and the EU-Africa Summit in Tripoli, Libya on 29-10 November; and that a letter on the outcomes of these discussions will follow.[143]


19.20 We look forward to this letter. We hope that it will show how the Action Plan reflects the Commission's approach and prescriptions. We should also be grateful for the Minister's thoughts on two of the key challenges that the Communication mentions, but does not discuss: the emerging global players, by which we presume the Commission means China, and its more straightforward approach to development in Africa; and increasing South-South cooperation.

19.21 In the meantime, we are drawing the Communication to the attention of the International Development Committee.

19.22 We also now clear it.

139   See headnote: (28780) 11362/07: HC 16-viii (2007-08), chapter 16 (16 January 2008), HC 41-xxxv (2006-07), chapter 1 (17 October 2007) and HC 41-xxxiii (2006-07), chapter 2 (2 October 2007). Back

140   See headnote: (30069) 14632/08: HC 19-ix (2008-09), chapter 10 (4 March 2009) and HC 16-xxxvi (2007-08), chapter 14 (26 November 2008). Back

141   For full information on the EU-Africa Partnership thus far, see Back

142   See (32174) 16146/10, which we consider at chapter 18 of this Report. Back

143   See for further information on the Summit. Back

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