Spotlight: ISS and partners inform AU-EU relations


The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has been invited to join a consortium to improve the implementation of initiatives agreed between the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU).

The AU and EU sometimes struggle to translate policy ideas into action, particularly in areas where their interests diverge. The new consortium will help them to better understand and meet each other’s expectations, taking account of economic realities and political needs in African and European countries.

Formed before the sixth EU-AU Summit in February 2022, the ISS joins some of the most credible institutes on both continents, including the European Centre for Development and Policy Management (ECDPM), the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), and the Policy Center for the New South (PCNS).

‘Greater diversity of African perspectives was needed to transform proposals into practical recommendations which consider the aims of both the AU and EU,’ said Paul-Simon Handy, ISS Regional Director for East Africa and Representative to the AU. ‘ISS policy expertise and evidence-based knowledge of African dynamics made us a natural partner for this initiative.’

Africa and Europe face different challenges due to their uneven levels of industrial development. This affects their cooperation on issues such as the transition to low carbon economies and digitisation, which prompt African fears of job losses. There are also concerns about artificial intelligence, data protection and privacy, particularly in nations with poor state capacity.

ISS can help the AU and EU understand each other’s positions at a time when multilateralism is more important than ever

The ISS brings its long track record with the AU and EU, an understanding of Africa’s complexities, and the ability to convene people with relevant experience from government, civil society and the private sector.

Over the last three decades, the ISS has developed a unique set of skills on the AU and its partnerships, and has been at the forefront of debates related to AU reform. Some of this knowledge is captured in the ISS’ flagship monthly Peace and Security Council Report, Africa’s longest-running and most established observatory of the workings of the AU Peace and Security Council.

In the lead-up to the EU-AU Summit, ISS advised on a common AU position around the new European Peace Facility, a defence financing mechanism aimed at supporting African-led peace missions. In 2021, ISS analysts provided insights into negotiations over a draft strategy to inform political and economic relations between Africa and the EU, ensuring the continent’s priorities were accounted for.

‘This is the kind of expertise the ISS brings to the new consortium,’ Handy says. ‘Our knowledge, experience and research will help the AU and EU better understand each other’s positions at a time when the war in Ukraine calls for renewed commitment to multilateralism.’

For more information contact:

Paul-Simon Handy, ISS: [email protected]

Image: © Belgium MFA/Twitter

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