EU-Africa : The seven year itch

Article published on Dec. 22, 2007
Article published on Dec. 22, 2007
The two first EU-Africa summits happened after an interval of seven years. The second one took place the 8 and 9. December in Portugal. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe replied to the invitation, what led Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain to execute his threat to stay away from the two-day meeting in Lisbon. Since 2001 a dreadful crisis tears the two countries apart.

This did not prevent the german chancellor Angela Merkel from mentioning the human rights breaches, particularly in Zimbabwe.  Despite some palpable tensions, in particular about Economical Partnership Agreements (EPA) rejected by the African Union, the second summit between the two continents wants to be the starting point of a new collaboration.

As equals

A declaration was adopted during the closing of the summit. It determines the rules of the partnership “as equals” between the two sides of the Mediterranean. Alpha Oumar Konaré, AU Commission Chairman, declared to the radio RFI: “ It is important to avoid schemes from another time and contrary to the african legitimate choices.” Africa is indeed more and more courted and Europe had to clarify their relation. Even if EU remains Africa’s first economical partner, China is hot on its heels. EU’s commercial deficit has doubled in six years and reaches now 35 billions of dollars. Bruxelles counts on Africa to supply it with raw material: coal in South Africa, Libya and Algeria for hydrocarbons. As for Africa, it imports manufactured products such as cars, machines or chemical products from the old continent. Africa owns 40% of the european exportations, a mighty client we have to care for...

To attract the most skilled workers

Furthermore, a calendar has been established to continue the negotiations about the EPA. President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal confirmed it to the south-african news-paper Mail & Guardian: “We plan to meet again to determine what will replace these agreements. I still agree with the will to create a new kind of partnership.” Eight lines have been fixed by the year 2010 particularly concerning immigration. The EU needs indeed 20 millions of extra-community immigrants by the year 2028. Moreover, a project of “blue card resident permit”is being elaborated to attract the most skilled workers. Besides, an european office will be opened in March 2008 in Mali with two objectives: to recrute and inform about immigration possibilities towards Europe.

Johara BoukabousTransaltion : Manon Bertrand