This Wednesday, 22nd November was held the high-level Euro-African conference organized at the European Parliament in Brussels. The conference was organized in the presence of Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, to prepare the first African Union/EU summit to be held on 29th and 30th November in Abidjan, bringing together more than 80 heads of state. This will be the first summit between the European Union and the African Union.

As the EU and Africa prepare to redefine their priorities for cooperation under the framework of the African Union/EU Joint Strategy adopted ten years ago, the focus is put on the need to invest in youth. By 2050, Africa, which is a young continent par excellence, will gather more than 2.5 billion inhabitants. This can represent a problem, but also an opportunity. African countries are facing desertification, famine, pandemics, terrorism, unemployment and governance issues, all of which contribute to uncontrolled immigration.

The  €3.4 billion investment plan, approved by the European Parliament last July, is a major step but it is insufficient. Some argue for more financial support and a “Marshall Plan” for Africa to build effective infrastructure, improve access to water, digitalization and education. The EU is the leading provider of official development assistance with more than 20 million euros disbursed per year, it is the largest player supporting peace and security missions in Africa.

During this conference, all speakers are highlighting the interdependence between the EU and Africa. They all agreed that the European Union should stay within its role of privileged partner with Africa, in a context where there is more and more competition with other actors such as China and India. They also all agreed that what Africa needs now is both security and investment, more than development. Despite some discussions on migration, including the urgent issue of acts of slavery in Libya, the upcoming summit will focus on investing in African youth.

Louise Bougot

For further information:

http://www.partnershipafrica.eu/

https://www.la-croix.com/Debats/Chroniques/LAfrique-doit-etre-sommet-priorites-politiques-lEurope-2017-11-20-1200893331