The second lunch-time seminar on the future of Africa-EU relations organized by the European Commission/ DG EuropeAid yielded a variety of pertinent recommendations about the way both continents could work together before and during multilateral negotiations and thus tackle global challenges in the future.
The seminar brought together 50 participants from African embassies, EU Member States, international organisations, research institutes, civil society and the private sector. Françoise Moreau, Head of unit Africa EU Partnership at the European Commission, opened the seminar focussing on the added value and feasibility of joint Africa-EU positions on global issues such as climate change, the post 2015 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ms Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Dr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), set the stage for innovative, frank and forward-looking discussions with their insightful keynote speeches. H.E. Mxolisi Nkosi, South African Ambassador to the EU, Dr. Alex Vines, Chatham House Research Director and Mr. José Manuel de Morais Briosa e Gala, Special Advisor to President Barroso on Africa and Development within G8 subsequently enriched the debate on how to build win-win alliances between the continents in multilateral negotiations.
Main points that emerged from the debate include the following:
- Africa and Europe have a lot of common interests in international climate negotiations: Africa's development and finance needs shall be taken into account, but it is vital that all countries of the world enter into binding climate commitments at the UNFCCC Conference in Paris in December 2015. Given the importance of climate change for Africa, the topic should be prominently placed at the Leaders' Summit and declaration in April 2014;
- Africa and Europe need to address main irritants: if Africa and Europe could reach ashared understanding of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDF) before or during multilateral negotiations then chances of success will substantially increase. Important ‘outstanding issues’ such as the Economic Partnership Agreements tend to have a negative spill-over on the willingness to reach compromises in other policy areas that are subject to international negotiations;
- The partnership must embrace the ‘new Africa’: While the partnership objectives and principles should be preserved, the way in which the continents perceive each other require substantial changes. Africa is changing rapidly as reflected in the Vision 2063 process. Only jointly can Africa and the EU successfully influence the changing international power-constellations, as well as ensuring conditions for a sustainable and inclusive economic growth;
- A strong Africa-EU Partnership is not an option, it is the only option: Given the geographical proximity, Europe’s future need for migrants due to its demographic trend, Africa’s enormous assets in terms of natural resources and growing population, a strong political and well-functioning partnership between the two neighbouring continents is critical for their mutual prosperity;
- Making coalitions for win-win negotiations in global fora requires high level political engagement: regular ministerial dialogues prior to international negotiations are necessary conditions for reaching win-win positions for the benefit of both continents;
- Lead the way: ‘coalitions of the willing’ between peer groups of African and EU ministers and/or ‘JAES ambassadors’ can be practical mechanisms for reaching useful outcomes in global fora. Such progressive ‘core groups’ could be established in the area of climate change, Post-2015 Framework negotiations, Peace and Security as well as other areas of joint concern;
- Establish Investment guarantees and risk-sharing instruments to compete in the African market: Public sector aid is in decline. Other sources must be leveraged including private equity and private sector investments as response to climate change and other global challenges;
- Building more coherence in policy frameworks at the global level: The EU could, for example, improve the effectiveness of its actions through further mainstreaming climate action into development policies;
- Opportunity to emphasise climate change at the next Africa-EU Summit: Climate change should figure prominently on the agenda or be discussed by African and European Ministers dealing with climate change on the side-lines of the Summit.
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