On the 17th and 18th of February, leaders of the European (EU) and the African (AU) Unions will meet for another summit to discuss the future of the two continents. This is the sixth European Union-African Union Summit, taking place in Brussels. The main goal is to strengthen the ties between both sides to build a common future as equal partners. But in contrast to other agreements, this “alliance” needs to have more synergies than the others on different levels.
There is no doubt about the vast importance of this partnership to Africa. But unfortunately, according to the Human Development Index, African countries are at the bottom of this development and humanity ranking amongst all countries globally. This means there is much work to bring good conditions to all African people, especially in education, health, or economic development.
A more effective partnership
On the other hand, a closer and more effective partnership with Africa would benefit Europe. Africa continues to be the continent with the most economic potential globally, given the abundance of natural resources. Plus, a tighter partnership could mitigate the migration crisis that absorbed Southern Europe in the last decade, which keeps killing a considerable number of people willing to risk their lives for a better life for themselves and their children. It is essential to highlight that Africa is one of the primary roots of migration to Europe.
According to the European Commission official data, in 2021, there was a 22% increase of deaths at sea, with 2,598 persons reported dead or missing in January-November 2021 on the three main routes (Eastern Mediterranean, Central Mediterranean and Western Mediterranean Routes), compared to 2,128 in the same period of 2020.
According to the European Council agenda, this Summit will be the chance to renew the partnership and target the main political priorities to build greater prosperity for all. The focus of this meeting will be the launch of an ambitious Africa-Europe Investment Package to deal with global challenges such as climate change and health crises. Considering these two main goals, we can conclude that the EU will try to influence Africa to adopt responsible and prosperous policies, such as the green transition and digital transition, job creation, and most importantly, investing in Human Development.
Education and Freedoms
Regarding Human Development, two main areas need urgent development: Health and Education. This package would be beneficial to create the basis to implement the right policies that would allow a more significant change in the African society supported in Human Rights, including Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion or Belief. For example, this Investment Package would improve Health Security and prepare the right conditions to open access to Healthcare to all Africans. Moreover, education is the only way to boost the economic development of one country. Hence, this investment could be helpful to invest in inclusive education and teaching formation to all African children, especially women, that would include education on the Universal Declaration on Human Rights values. Besides, a broader exchange program of students similar to Erasmus+ would be appreciated between both sides.
A safer Africa
Furthermore, we cannot think in Africa without thinking of possible solutions to make the continent a safer place for all Africans. Africa continues to be one continent with several conflicts that harm the daily lives of millions of people and often with the connivance of European powers.
Hence, the Summit could be an opportunity to agree on cooperation solutions to fight against the continent’s instability and prevent people from inciting radicalization and joining terrorist groups.
The EU can undoubtedly help the African countries defend themselves and provide them with adequate training and equipment. However, they can’t forget to forge strong knowledge and values on fundamental rights on those who will be the leaders of tomorrow: immediately needed defence resources, without investment in ensuring education and knowledge of fundamental rights, will only ensure continued armed conflicts.
Health and nutrition
And last but not least, there is room to improve the aid to African countries to control pandemics through a heightened control and availability of proper non-adulterated nutrition. In addition, helps is needed to create more robust immune systems in a continent where hunger and malnutrition are probably one of the most significant sources of premature deaths.
This meeting could be an opportunity to raise the humanitarian aid of the EU to Africa by helping create infrastructures built by locals. This will enable them to be self-sufficient and a resource for the EU and the world, to get raw and manufactured materials of quality in a fair fashion that contributes to the African population’s economies and wellbeing of the African people.
Ursula von der Leyen, on her first speech as President of the European Commission, remembered the mission that Europe has at hands with Africa. A comprehensive strategy, a close neighbour and a natural partner were the words used by the President to describe a partnership with Africa. At the half of her speech, “Europe must support Africa in designing and implementing its own solutions to challenges such as instability, cross-border terrorism and organized crime.”
In sum, the EU should embrace this challenge very specially. Human Development needs to be the heart of future strategy between Europe and Africa. This alliance could be Africa’s driving force to change society towards honourable norms and values and preserve common goals together. To accompany the coalition, we need to ensure that these ideas could be implemented according to the values founded the Universal Human Rights: education, security and prosperity of our citizens, the protection of human rights for all, gender equality and women’s empowerment in all spheres of life, respect for democratic principles, good governance and the rule of law.
Faster and deeper integration
This could be the beginning of a new “Marshall Plan” that could allow a faster and deeper African integration like it succeeded in the European continent. May this European fairytale inspire a fresh restart for Africa and all Africans.