On Thursday, MEPs adopted a wide-ranging strategy on a new EU-Africa partnership by 20 votes, with two votes against and three abstentions. The strategy emphasises the need to go beyond simply cooperating on issues such as the green transition, energy, digital transformation, sustainable jobs, good governance and migration.
As well as addressing these areas, listed by the Commission and the European External Action Service, human development must be central to future EU-Africa relations, said MEPs, who welcome this fresh approach to the relationship. The future partnership should prioritise education, including teacher training, reducing early school leaving, and concentrate on the inclusion of girls. It should also aim to improve health care and national health systems.
The EU-Africa relationship must “move beyond the donor-recipient relationship”. Instead, the EU and Africa should cooperate as equals, empowering African nations to attain the UN Sustainable Development Goals, curb climate change, and foster gender equality, among other targets. To achieve this, MEPs call for substantial funds to be earmarked in the upcoming external financial instrument NDICI.
Expectations for a future strategy
The committee’s expectations for the future EU-Africa strategy include:
- long-term EU financial and technical support for African countries to boost climate adaptation;
- EU support for African regional integration to help reduce dependence on foreign imports;
- Africa to be supported by the EU in its ambitions for a continental free trade area;
- sexual and reproductive health and rights to be protected by the EU in the new partnership;
- international lenders, such as the IMF and the World Bank, to do more to relieve debt; and
- the partnership must prioritise the human dignity of refugees and migrants.
Rapporteur Chrysoula Zacharopoulou (Renew, FR), said: “Europe and Africa need each other; a new and equal partnership must reflect this. Together, we can improve sustainability, fight poverty, injustice and inequality, protect biodiversity and combat climate change as well as tackling global health issues. Empowering women and young people is key to our relationship: they are the future. They will not only play a decisive role in this new partnership but also on the African continent itself.”
The full House will discuss and vote on the draft resolution during the March plenary session. The text will contribute to the discussion of the future EU-Africa strategy. The process will be concluded with the adoption of the joint strategy at the EU-African Union Summit, to be held later this year.
In 2020, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the renewal of the EU-Africa relationship.