EU – AU multifaceted cooperation, achieving common objectives

As the world navigates an increasingly complex geopolitical landscape, the relationship between the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) has taken on renewed significance. Once marked by a history of colonial ties and uneven power dynamics, this crucial partnership is now undergoing a remarkable transformation, driven by a shared vision for a more just and prosperous global order. The relation of the two bloc dates back to the 2000 summit in Cairo, Egypt.

At the heart of this evolving collaboration is the shared challenges faced by both blocs from the climate change crisis and global health threats to the need for sustainable economic development and strengthened security cooperation. Recognizing the limitations of unilateral action, the AU and EU have embarked on a path to a deeper integration and coordinated policymaking.

One area of growing cooperation is the fight against climate change. The AU’s ambitious Green Recovery Action Plan coupled with the EU’s European Green Deal have laid the groundwork for joint initiatives to accelerate the transition to renewable energy, protect biodiversity, and build climate-resilient infrastructure across the African continent. Working with Africa in renewable energy is beneficial because of the continent’s untapped resource potential in this sector.

Beyond environmental cooperation, the AU-EU partnership is also expanding into spheres of security, trade, and digital transformation. Joint efforts to combat terrorism, strengthen border management, and foster inclusive economic growth are creating new avenues for mutually beneficial collaboration.

As the world is experiencing an era of geopolitical shifts and emerging challenges, the strengthening of the AU-EU alliance stands as a beacon of hope. By capitalizing on their complementary assets and leveraging their collective influence, the two regional blocs are poised to spearhead transformative change on a global scale.

In a recent briefing, Javier Nino Perez, the EU ambassador to the AU, shared insights into the evolving partnership. The EU has pledged to invest 150 billion Euros over the next few years to support the African Union’s development. The EU also works with civil society, local authorities, and youth representatives to promote people-to-people contact and cooperation through initiatives like the Erasmus Student Exchange Program and collaborations between African and European artists.

Ambassador Nino Perez emphasized the importance of listening to each other and learning from each other’s experiences, particularly in the areas of human rights, science, technology, and innovation. He noted that the EU is committed to sharing its knowledge and expertise with Africa to foster the development of the latter.

The ambassador also discussed the EU’s substantial investments in Africa, totalling around 279 billion dollars. “Our cooperation extends beyond the political sphere. We have vibrant cultural initiatives that bring together artists from the two blocs and promoting people-to-people connections. And our dialogue covers a wide range of issues – from human rights to science, technology and innovation,” he said.

Addressing human rights challenges in both continents, Perez stressed the need for mutual learning and support. “Europe is a continent where we have many tensions and issues related to inequality and the rise of the extreme right,” he acknowledged.

According to Perez another critical area of cooperation with Africa is energy. Africa has immense renewable energy potential, yet receives only 2% of global investments in this sector. The EU is committed to change this and work on to bring sustainable energy solutions to the continent, Perez said. “We invest in education, vaccine production, and every sector we deem vital for Africa’s development,” he added.

Beyond economic engagement, the EU is actively involved in peace and security operations across the continent, deploying European police and military personnel. “We come here. We bring money, and together with our African friends and brothers, we risk our lives,” with over 13 joint EU-Africa operations tackling challenges like piracy and terrorism, Perez stated.

However, the issue of migration remains a sensitive one. While acknowledging the political challenges in Europe, the ambassador emphasized the potential benefits of well-managed migration. “Migrants don’t go to Europe to kill and steal. Migrants go to Europe to work,” he said.

Perez also underscored the EU’s commitment to multilateralism, noting the difficulties in bringing together diverse member states, just as the AU faces in connecting its 55 members. “The only way to deal with conflicts and challenges is to do it collectively and peacefully, and to do it by obeying international laws,” he asserted.

Looking to the future, the ambassador expressed the EU’s belief in regard to African integration potential, drawing parallels to the European experience. “We believe that one day Africans will be able to travel to another country freely,” he said, highlighting progress in areas such as electronic visas and the establishment of a continental free trade area.

“The EU provides a staggering 40 percent of the African Union Commission’s budget – a testament to our belief in the AU’s dream for a more integrated, prosperous Africa,” he added.

Also, on his stay with The Ethiopian Herald recently, the ambassador said that regarding health, the EU wants to increase the capacity of Africa to produce vaccines and medicine, health security, quality of health services, and decrease the inequality in access to services. We are launching significant investment to increase the capacity of vaccine production through a project ‘MAV+’ with four African countries: Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, and Rwanda to increase the vaccine production. It is more than one billion Euros investment. EU also wanted to help Africa on the environment and renewable energy, the Ambassador elucidated.

In addition, the EU is supporting African initiatives to establish a single market on aviation and transport, and a single electricity market hoping to help 600 million Africans who do not have access to electricity, adding, “It is taking our work to a different level to a more strategic one under African ownership and leadership,” noted the ambassador.

Europe is the largest development and humanitarian assistance provider, and it is also the largest investing and trading partner with Africa. African initiatives backed by the EU are crucial to the continent’s development.

Overall, the evolving partnership between the two blocs holds immense promise for a more just and prosperous global future by capitalizing on their shared challenges and leveraging their collective influence.

The AU-EU collaboration has expanded into diverse spheres, from climate action and sustainable development to security, trade, and digital transformation. Through joint initiatives, the two unions are addressing pressing issues such as the climate crisis, global health threats, and the need for inclusive economic growth.

Moreover, the EU’s substantial investments in Africa, amounting to billions of euros have the power to benefit both sides. The huge African resources in different aspects such as: human power, mineral, arable land and many other blessings are favourable to work and invest in Africa. The continent has also overcome different challenges and learnt from them and it takes its own ways for the solution. The time to wait for others must be stopped for Africa, and investing in education and technology is very crucial for the continent’s development. Enhancing mutual partnership is a key move for the AU and forges strategic bond with blocs like EU.



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