The 6th EU-AU Summit: Some Reflections

Gabriele Casano 
Phd student in “Risk, Security and Vulnerability” at the University of Genoa, Italy; researcher at CIMA foundation

Postponed due to the pandemic, the 6th EU-AU Summit finally took place 17-18 February 2022 in Brussels, while France holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) and Senegal the chairmanship of the African Union (AU). The event was attended by 70 diplomatic delegations from both continents. The summit falls in the wake of what was outlined in the document Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa of February 2020 drafted by the Von der Leyen Commission. This document already outlined some of the fundamental principles and objectives reaffirmed during this last meeting. On the one hand, the strategic priority of a strengthened partnership between the EU and Africa in both the economic and geopolitical spheres was highlighted, as well as the need to establish a real relationship between equals based on common values and interests that will make it possible to respond concretely to the challenges of the coming decades (e.g., climate change, migration, security, etc.). Special attention was dedicated to vaccinations and overcoming the pandemic, an area in which the EU is committed to strengthening cooperation with the African continent. In the long term, the perspective of both parties is to work towards "the progressive and mutually beneficial integration of the respective continental markets", also thanks to the development of the African Continental Free Trade Area. This last statement underlines, once again, the importance and the potential opportunities of a stronger partnership between the EU and the AU. Although there was general satisfaction among the parties involved, doubts remain about how the most important proposal, The Global Gateway Africa - Europe Investment Package, will be implemented. This ambitious financing plan for development, worth 150 billion euros, aims to support Africa mainly through the acceleration of green and digital transitions, the expansion of sustainable growth combined with the creation of decent jobs, which will strengthen health and transportation systems, and improve education and training. These priorities mirror what was already identified in the AU's Agenda 2063, but now they are put on paper in a mutually agreed fashion in the Joint Vision 2030, shortly presented in the Final Declaration of the Summit. The main challenge of the Investment Package appears to be the definition and realisation of adequate tools for its implementation that will be able to mobilise, manage and monitor such great amount of resources and this ambitious development plan. The final statements do not clearly illustrate what tools and resources will be introduced to ensure the success of the development plan. In this regard, it could be conceivable, for example, to have recourse - immediately and in a coordinated and unified manner at the EU level - to resources from the recent General Allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), through the creation of an ad hoc instrument that would allow for their rechannelling from the EU to Africa. At present, the EU supports financing through SDRs only those channels defined by the IMF, but these are not able to guarantee the preferential relationship that Europe intends to establish with Africa, and, above all, they follow rules and principles that are far from the desire of the EU and AU to establish a relationship between equals based on common values and needs that go beyond the donor-recipients logic.

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