Over the past few years, the African Union (AU) has become the EU's main interlocutor on pan-African issues.
The AU has 53 member countries, each holding the annually rotating presidency in turn, and several administrative bodies:
- the Assembly comprises the Heads of State and government and sets the AU's main political agenda
- the Executive Council comprises the Ministers of Foreign Affairs
- the Peace and Security Council focuses on conflict situations
- the Permanent Representatives Committee and its specialised technical committees represent the 53 member countries
- the Commission coordinates and implements high-level decisions
- the Pan-African Parliament acts as consultant and advisor, and may eventually evolve into a fully-fledged legislative body
- the Economic, Social and Cultural Council comprises civil society representatives, assisted by CIDO (African Citizens Directorate, the AU Commission department in charge of relations with civil society and the diaspora).
The AU Commission is the main executive arm of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership, under the political guidance of the AU member countries and the chairperson, Jean Ping.
In addition to the AU institutions, the NEPAD secretariat and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) also play a prominent role in Africa's economic integration.