What is the Africa-EU Partnership?
The Africa-EU Partnership is the formal political channel through which the European Union (EU) and the African continent work together, engage in political and policy dialogues and define their cooperative relationship. It was established in 2000 at the first Africa-EU Summit in Cairo. The partnership is guided by the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, which was adopted at the second EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon in 2007. Following the 5th AU-EU Summit, cooperation currently focuses on four priority areas.
The Africa-EU Partnership strives to bring Africa and Europe closer together through strengthening economic cooperation and promoting sustainable development, with both continents co-existing in peace, security, democracy, prosperity, solidarity and human dignity. Against this backdrop, the two partners are determined to work together on a strategic, long-term footing to develop a shared vision for EU-Africa relations in a globalised world. Their common interests include issues such as climate change, global security and the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
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The Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) sets out the intention of both continents to move beyond a donor/recipient relationship towards long-term cooperation on jointly identified mutual and complementary interests. It is based on principles of ownership, partnership and solidarity and its adoption marks a new phase in Africa-EU relations.
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The joint strategy is implemented through multiannual roadmaps and action plans, adopted after each Africa-EU Summit of Heads of States and Governments. Three successive roadmaps and action plans have already been adopted and implemented since 2007.
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At the 5th AU-EU Summit held on 29-30 November 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, under the central theme of 'Investing in Youth for a Sustainable Future', EU and African leaders defined four new joint priorities for 2018 and beyond.
At the 2017 AU-EU Summit, African and EU leaders focused on job creation, especially for young people. They also reiterated the need for greater synergy in political dialogue and improved cooperation, while also promoting contributions from the private sector and civil society. Confronted with global challenges, the EU and Africa are working closely together and are committed to an effective multilateral system that shapes multilateral agendas.
Complementarity with other cooperation frameworks
The Africa-EU Partnership focuses primarily on cooperation at a continental level and specifically the relationship between the European and African Unions. As such, it complements the EU's existing frameworks of cooperation with sub-Saharan Africa and with the EU Neighbourhood at bilateral and regional levels.
Other existing frameworks go beyond the African continent, such as the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement – also known as the Cotonou Agreement, which involves African countries, as well as the Pacific and Caribbean (ACP) Group of States. The Cotonou Agreement was concluded in 2000 and constitutes the legal basis of the European Development Fund (EDF).
In this regard, the Africa-EU Partnership, with its continental approach, is an instrument of political dialogue and cooperation, overarching and complementing existing development relationship frameworks between EU and African countries.