Neighbours as well as privileged partners, the European Union and the African Union still have difficulties to implement and maintain commitments taken during previous summits. The actual migrant crisis is one of the main issues the orientations of European policies question towards this “continent of tomorrow”. This question was raised during the fifth African Union-EU summit that was held on 29th and 30th November 2017, and where common decisions were adopted. Nevertheless, is this new policy enough to relaunch the Euro-African cooperation?
The « Strategic partnership » at the heart of the Euro-African cooperation
The fifth African Union-EU summit made it possible to adopt a joint statement for the strategic partnership between the two spaces in four key areas, among which economic opportunities for the youth, peace and security, mobility and migration as well as cooperation on governance. The implementation of this declaration will be financed through two funding schemes: the Pan-African programme, with a budget of 845 million euro (2014-2020) and the Action Programme of the African Peace Facility, with a budget of 1,51 billion euro (2014-2016).
A desire to invest in youth
If Europe is to become the “oldest” region of the world by 2030, Africa is by far the “youngest”. Indeed, the median age is below 20 years and the population density is expected to double by 2050 to 2,4 billion.
The African Union-EU summit also aimed to define tools to respond to the African population explosion and offer better opportunities for young Africans.
A new EU external investment plan was presented to African leaders at the summit. With a budget of 44 billion euro (2018-2020), it will focus on the professional integration and fight against unemployment of young Africans.
In addition, European and African leaders agreed to promote the mobility of students, teaching staff and researchers across the African continent by strengthening exchange programs between Africa and Europe, such as Erasmus +.
Migration issues, a central theme of the debates
In an effort to effectively reduce the migration crisis, the European Union has adopted a dual approach: an intervention in the Member states and a targeted strategy through projects leading to the stability of the African continent and in favor of protection, security, peace and economic development.
The 1,8 billion euro Trust Fund for Africa, established in 2016, is already helping to address the root causes of irregular migration by encouraging projects in the above areas.
In light of the tragic events in Libya, a joint declaration on the slavery of migrants has been adopted, condemning the inhuman treatment of migrants and refugees by criminal groups.
President Emmanuel Macron and all the European leaders announced a series of emergency measures (emergency evacuation of Africans, creation of commissions of inquiry, etc.) to put an end to and fight against the perpetrators of these crimes, inside and outside the country.
On the whole, this fifth African Union-EU summit is promising and brings a new breath to this 10-year long cooperation. However, will the planned and future projects have the expected impact or should we add it to the list of “uncompleted” summits? The future will tell….