Good afternoon, and welcome to Debating Europe’s liveblog of our event in partnership with Friends of Europe: “EU-Africa relations: Ready for a fresh start?”.
The next Africa-EU Summit is set for April 2014, when heads of state and government from European and African countries will meet in Brussels. Do YOU think the EU and Africa can revitalise relations and craft a new vision for future cooperation? Does the rise of investment from Asia and rapidly-developing economies pose a challenge or an opportunity? And is the EU doing enough to support regional integration in Africa?
You can see the live video below, and take part in the debate in the comments. Note: you may need to refresh the page in order to see the liveblog updates.
And that’s all folks! You can continue the discussion below, and we’ll post the full video from the debate when it’s available.
Jeremy Lester is now responding to some of the Debating Europe questions, arguing that:
Despite the economic problems faced by Europe, we have committed ourselves to maintaining the flows of aid to Africa. And I think the challenge will be to [convince publics in Europe] that this is not only a good, moral thing to do, but also in our advantage. Some of the discussions today in terms of mutual-interest should be brought out.
Daniel Bach answered the question from our reader, Christos, on whether aid still has a place in Africa-EU relations. He says:
We don’t want to go back to the days of arguing whether overseas aid should be cut in order to increase welfare spending in Europe. There are returns as far as aid is concerned, but we’ve tended to think of aid in terms of foreign policy so far, and we should now think of it in a broader sense. We’ve seen the very positive development that enrichment in Africa is no longer related to the ability to pilfer from the state, and we’re seeing rich Africans who are proud to be making money as entrepreneurs. This should be encouraged and supported.
Pim Van Ballekom, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), is summing up the message that many of his co-panelists have also been making:
A fresh start [in Africa-EU relations] means trade instead of aid, a shift from public to private, and a shift from grants to investments, so the investment climate is now even more important than in the so-called “old days”.
An interesting question from the floor, arguing that “No mention has been made in the debate about the role of democracy in development… This is surely a very important element in the development of the African continent.”
If you’re looking for some facts and figures concerning EU-Africa relations, Debating Europe has put together an infographic below:
The three questions from Debating Europe readers were asking:
- What has been the effect of the eurozone crisis on Africa-EU relations?
- Does aid still have a place in the EU-Africa relationship?
- What does the panel think of the shift away from Africa-EU relations and towards Africa-Asia relations?
And now we’re turning to some questions from Debating Europe readers!
Jeremy Lester argues that Africa’s growing population could either be a “driver of entrepreneurship” or an “explosive driver of discontent and conflict”, depending on how that growth is managed.
Jeremy Lester, Adviser on Conflict Prevention, European External Action Service (EEAS), is now speaking.
He argues that: “It is in Europe’s interest that Africa should grow, and offer Europe bigger markets for European goods and services.”
Obadiah Malafia, Chef de Cabinet of the SG of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, is now speaking. He makes an important point:
The discussions so far have been all very interesting, all very exciting. But who is this Africa? … Africa is a continent of 54 countries, very diverse, very different in terms of their levels of development. So, Africa, indeed, is not one country…
He also brings up the issue of Europe’s historical baggage in Africa, saying that when the Chinese explorer Zheng He sailed to Africa in the 15th Century:
He brought scientists, explorers, business people. And a few Africans actually volunteered to come with him to China. It was all a very civilized affair… And the Portuguese came a century later, and shall we say it was not exactly a civilized affair. The rest is history.
Daniel Bach, Director of Research of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) at the Emile Durkheim Centre, is the first to bring up the effects of the European economic crisis on Africa-EU relations:
What is the additional value that Europe can bring to Africa? What are we going to bring that is new? Especially as we are confronted with the reality of having to implement our own structural adjustment programmes, which should make us more understanding of the challenges that have faced many African countries.
Here is a new buzzword for the dictionary: ‘Synovation’ is apparently a combination of ‘Synergy’ and ‘Innovation’. Is synovation a useful concept, or just the latest example of the buzzification of the global development paradigm?
The message from all of today’s speakers seems to be that Africa-EU relations have to move beyond aid and towards encouraging investment. Masato Watanabe, Vice-President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is now arguing that the international development landscape has greatly changed over the last two decades, and we need to move beyond aid to engaging private companies in Africa.
Pim Van Ballekom, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), is now speaking. He says:
Somebody in the audience said the new fresh start should be based on respect and not on paternalism. I fully agree, but I don’t think that we [in Europe] dictate, or that our policies are based on paternalism.
Elham Mahmood Ahmed Ibrahim, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, now has the floor. She says that the situation in Africa has changed radically since the last Africa-EU summit in 2007:
“Now, I think it’s very clear that many of the African countries have done very well in their development and their growth… [And] there are new partners: there are the BRICs, for example… So, [the future EU-Africa relationship] should be win-win. There is no more place for aid. No, it should be based on investment and development.”
And, we’re off! Giles Merritt, Secretary General of Friends of Europe, is now introducing the event. He says it’s not a secret that African leaders feel it is “not clear what Europe’s intentions are in the run-up to the Africa-EU summit in 2014.”