The Africa-EU Partnership is based on the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, a document jointly negotiated and agreed by the African Union and European Union institutions, as well as by African states and EU Member States in 2007.
The Partnership also extends beyond political institutions. Non-state actors – civil society organisations, youth organisations, the private sector and other social actors – are all involved.
- European Union
On the European side the EU-Africa partnership is guided by EU Member States. This works at various levels:
- Heads of State and Government of EU Member States in the European Council
- Ministers of EU Member States in the Foreign Affairs Council of the EU
- Specialised working groups, e.g. the Africa working group (COAFR), via the Committee of permanent representatives.
The European Commission drives the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy through jointly identified priorities in all areas of cooperation.
The overall policy coordination and strategic directions on Africa-EU relations are provided by the European External Action Service in close consultation with the European Commission. For more information
- African Union
The African Union (AU) is the EU's main interlocutor on pan-African issues.
The AU has 54 member countries, each holding the annually rotating presidency in turn, and a number of administrative bodies:
- the Assembly, comprising Heads of State and Government, sets the AU's main political agenda;
- the Executive Council, made up of Ministers of Foreign Affairs;
- the Peace and Security Council;
- the Permanent Representatives Committee and its specialised technical committees, representing the 54 member countries;
- the Commission, which coordinates and implements high-level decisions;
- the Pan-African Parliament, a consultative and advisory body;
- the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), which represents civil society.
The AU Commission is the main executive arm of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership, under the political guidance of member countries and the AU chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. In addition to the AU institutions, the AU technical body New Partnership For Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Regional Economic Communities in Africa play a prominent role, notably in economic integration.
- Civil Society, Private Sector and Youth organisations
A people-centred partnership
Non-state actors from both continents are invited to play an active role in the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) and of the Road Map 2014-2017 recently adopted by African and European Heads of States and Governments. The JAES works towards a people-centred partnership between Africa and the EU by promoting the effective participation of civil society and the private sector, which are crucial partners for the delivery of direct benefits for African and European citizens.
Civil society organisations
From the outset, the JAES has taken into account the active participation of civil society. A joint steering group gathering civil society representatives from both sides facilitates dialogue between European civil society and their African counterparts.
Under its AU Support Programme, the EU supports African civil society engagement, in line with the Constitutive Act of the African Union which stipulates that the Union is based on the partnership between governments and all segments of civil society.
The 2nd Africa-EU Civil Society Forum, which took place in October 2013, brought together representatives from 32 African and 36 European civil society organisations. Participants discussed proposals put forward by the European Commission and African Union Commission on reforming the JAES thematic priorities, institutional mechanisms and funding instruments. They also reflected upon past experiences and future opportunities in the framework of the JAES. The final declaration can be found here.
Moreover, the European Economic and Social Committee, together with the African partners, organised a meeting on the 5th of March 2014 to ensure that the voices of social and economic stakeholders were heard in the run-up to the 4th EU-Africa Summit. It brought together representatives of the employers, workers and various other interest groups, particularly farmers and consumers, from both continents. The meeting served to foster regular and structured cooperation between European and African economic and social actors, help strengthen their capacities as well as exchange knowledge and best practices. Conclusions of the meeting were shared with key political EU and African partners.
The final declaration of the meeting can be found here.
- The private sector
The private sector is of crucial importance for African development and a favourable investment and business environment is indispensable for sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
EU-Africa Business Fora (EABF) have played a key role in bringing together entrepreneurs and public and private investors from both Europe and Africa. 5 EABF have so far been organised, namely in Brussels (2006), Accra (2007), Nairobi (2009), Tripoli (2010) and in Brussels (2014).
The 5th EABF in Brussels, which took place on 31st of March/1st of April 2014, back-to-back with the 4th EU-Africa Summit, saw the participation of many organisations from both continents.
A full list of EABF participants can be found here.
For the final declaration please click here.
- Youth organisations
Youth organisations are encouraged to contribute to the objectives of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy through their ideas, aspirations and actions.
The 3rd Africa-EU Youth Leaders' Summit, which took place on 31st of March/1st of April 2014, provided concrete recommendations to the Heads of State and Government present at the EU-Africa Summit regarding future JAES youth initiatives and structured engagement of the youth in the cooperation and dialogue between Africa and Europe.
A flash report on the outcomes of the Youth Leaders' Summit can be found here.
The Summit was organised under the coordination of a Steering Group set up in the framework of the Africa-Europe Youth Platform comprising 5 permanent members:
- European Youth Forum
- Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe
- Panafrican Youth Union
- Network of International Youth Organisation of Africa
- African Diaspora Youth Network in Europe
- Academic institutions
The work of think tanks and research institutes significantly helps to improve knowledge-based policy making and to guide implementation in the framework of the Africa-EU Partnership.
In particular, the Europe-Africa Policy research network (EARN) aims to contribute to the EU-Africa policy dialogue. This network of Policy Research Institutes on both continents intends to bring added value on pooling and fostering policy research capacities, dialogue, information and partnership between European and African non-governmental research institutions on issues relating to EU-Africa relations.