How does it work?
African and European leaders meet at EU-Africa Summits to set the agenda for joint relations. The second EU-Africa summit, held in Lisbon in December 2007, adopted the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership.
Ministerial-level meetings usually involve:
- AU foreign ministries from the country holding the AU presidency and the country that held it previously, and the AU Commission
- EU foreign ministries from the country currently holding the EU presidency, and the country that will hold it next, the European Commission and the EU Council's general secretariat.
Under the joint strategy, other ministries may also meet in future to discuss particular subject areas.
"Commission-to-Commission meetings", bring Presidents and Commissioners together – Presidents may also meet at AU or EU-Africa Summits. Members of the AU Commission and European Commission with similar portfolios also meet regularly on a bilateral basis. Staff from both Commissions meet twice a year (alternately in Europe and Africa) as "the Joint Task Force", to review sectoral and institutional cooperation.
At parliamentary level, regular contacts and meetings take place between ad hoc delegations from the European Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament. The presidents of both parliaments also meet on a regular basis.
To facilitate ongoing dialogue, an AU representation to the EU has been set up in Brussels and an EU delegation to the AU in Addis Ababa.
Civil society organisations play an active part in the Africa-EU strategy and have set up an interim steering group on the EU side and an interim steering committee on the AU side, to organise their activities. It is hoped that the two groups will be able to establish mutual contacts soon. Researchers have already set up a Europe-Africa Policy Research Network (EARN), to provide independent policy analysis.
Local authorities from Europe and Africa already have regular contacts.
Under the strategy's action plan, joint expert groups are to be set up to implement the eight strategic partnerships. The groups will include representatives from AU and EU member countries, civil society organisations and, on the EU side, specially created implementation teams.