Spotlight: ISS insights contribute to Africa-EU negotiations on a future strategy

The ISS clarified African priorities and helped strengthen the EU’s strategic alliance with the continent.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) provided analysis and insights into negotiations over a draft strategy that will inform future political and economic relations between Africa and the European Union (EU).

In order to better understand Africa’s priorities, the ISS conducted interviews with policy makers and researchers from the AU, EU, think tanks and civil society organisations. It analysed the European Commission document from an African perspective, based on the AU’s Agenda 2063, to produce a report on Relations between Africa and Europe: mapping Africa’s priorities.

‘The ISS report is the first of its kind by an African organisation,’ said Ambassador Salah S Hammad, Head of the African Governance Architecture Secretariat at the AU. He congratulated the ISS on its African perspective and excellent input.

Analysis by the ISS showed that many African themes and concerns were covered in the European Commission document, including access to finance, education, jobs, gender equality and youth inclusion. The document also spoke of boosting regional and continental economic integration through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.  

But some African priorities were not sufficiently reflected, including poverty reduction, small and medium enterprises, remittances, transport infrastructure and the blue economy. Addressing poverty, inequality and hunger is a top Agenda 2063 priority but poverty is mentioned just once in the European Commission communication. It is also not directly linked to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Amb Salah S Hammad congratulated the ISS on its African perspective and excellent input

The importance of integrating Africa’s priorities was stressed by Prof Carlos Lopes, AU High-Representative on negotiations of the EU post-2020 agreement. ‘An engagement with Africa can no longer be conducted without understanding African needs,’ he said.   

The ISS identified that human development was seen through the narrow lens of job creation, and resilience was approached from a state perspective with limited mention of the role of communities. It also suggested more emphasis be given to illicit financial flows, the brain drain and debt cancellation. ISS said an implementation framework was needed with timelines, targets and a corresponding financial mechanism.

ISS researchers briefed African diplomats in Addis Ababa and European diplomats based in African countries on their findings. The aim was to assert African priorities ahead of the drafting of the joint strategy, due to be adopted at the 6th EU–AU summit in 2021.

‘ISS support aims to ensure the strategy is mutually beneficial and delivers the best outcomes for Africa,’ says Tsion Tadesse Abebe, an ISS Senior Researcher who co-authored the report.

For more information contact:

Tsion Tadesse Abebe, ISS: [email protected] 

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