Re-defining the EU’s foreign policy towards Africa

JEF Europe | Young European Federalists | PC3   

Find the PDF version here. 

Re-defining the EU’s foreign policy towards Africa 

Resolution adopted by the Congress of JEF Europe – Malta – November 2017

Historically, the European Union (EU) has had a strong relationship of cooperation and investment with African states. Collectively (EU & Member States) it has been the biggest contributor to the African Union and EU remains Africa's biggest trading partner. However, in recent years countries like China, Brazil, and the Gulf States are assuming a relevant role in Africa by increasing cooperation with and investment in African states, further diminishing Europe’s role in Africa.


In recent years, apart from cooperation and investment, the EU’s foreign policy towards Africa has focused on other topics: limiting migration to Europe and fighting terrorism.  This approach has put a strain on EU-African relations and has received strong criticism by EU citizens.


The aim of this resolution is to reposition EU policy towards African states by encouraging a more proactive approach towards the establishment of a real strategic partnership. This means that the approach taken by the EU is reinforced by the development of a real European institutional and political “single voice” in dealing with African continental, regional institutions and countries, with concrete action plans and integration projects to support the sustainable development of Africa and its countries into a prosperous, stable and competitive neighbour.



JEF Europe,


•       Reaffirming its Resolution for a European Solution of the Refugee Crisis and a new Strategy in the Southern Mediterranean Region;

•       Recalling the significant history shared by Europe and Africa; in this regard paying particular attention to the legacy of European colonialism that negatively affected the African continent and Europe’s historical responsibility arising from this period;

•       Recognising that, since the Schuman Declaration, promoting development in Africa has been a goal for Europe, progressively extending development assistance throughout the continent and today covering political partnership enshrined in the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES);

•       Considering that the EU is collectively Africa’s main foreign investor, principal trading partner, a key security provider, its main source of remittances and its principal partner in development and humanitarian assistance;

•       Regretting that, with so many financial instruments the EU established to promote development in Africa, this policy is mainly financed by national contributions collected outside the EU budget, away from the scrutiny of the European Parliament;

•       Taking into account the African Union’s ambitious 50-year “Agenda 2063”, which together with its first 10-year implementation plan, the Addis Ababa funding scheme, and the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, created a strategic framework for advancing and following up on Africa’s development;

•       Further considering its continental programme embedded in the resolutions of the General Assembly on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD);

•       Acknowledging the increased focus on cooperation on higher education through the Joint Africa-EU Strategy;

•       Commending the EU’s trade initiatives with West African states, namely the Economic Community of West African States and the West African Economic and Monetary Union aimed at increasing trade and competitiveness in the region;

•       Highlighting that sustainable and inclusive economies are of benefit for both continents and their creation should become a core priority in future discussions and subsequent initiatives;

•       Welcoming within the aims of the Global Strategy, the Joint Communication for a renewed impetus of the Africa-EU Partnership, issued by the European Commission and VP/HR Mogherini, towards the fifth EU-Africa Summit in November 2017;

•       Observing that the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, aimed at addressing the root causes of irregular migration, is undermined by scarce contributions from EU Member States, and that the new migration partnership framework with African countries raised many concerns from NGOs on human rights, rule of law standards and protection mechanisms not being prioritised under this framework;

•       Acknowledging that African countries have accommodated more refugees than European countries, and the specific burden it places on these countries;

•       Disapproving of the way the EU and its Member States have aimed to recast existing civilian crisis management tools as counter-terrorist and counter-migration mechanisms, such as Operation Sophia, mainly being driven by a securitarian approach;

•       Considering that the exploitation of natural resources by European colonial powers and post-colonial African governments, as well as climate change, have exacerbated inequalities between communities and continents, particularly endangering the livelihoods of rural communities dependent on natural resources;

•       Emphasising that Africa achieving the full potential of its natural resources would boost its competitiveness, accordingly welcomes EU initiatives to promote better management and more transparent trade in natural resources;

•       Highlighting that EU investment policy in Africa as it is planned so far is raising concerns from NGOs because it risks benefiting multinational corporations and the European private sector more than the local private sector in Africa;


JEF Europe,


1.   Calls on the EU and its Member States to work less for but more with Africa – with the African Union and regional organisations, governments, local authorities and civil society – so Africans have real ownership over our co-operation;

2.   Objects to the idea of individual EU member states pursuing their individual strategic interests in African countries under the guise of EU foreign policy, instead calling for stronger coordination led and facilitated by the EU through the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the EEAS;

3.   Urges the EU to increase its diplomatic leverage to prevent full-blown conflicts, including  in the ongoing conflict in Libya;

4.   Stresses the need to move AU-EU relations out of the sphere of mere intergovernmental exchanges and summits and follow the spirit of the Joint Africa EU Strategy (JAES) advocating a people-centred approach where citizens and the role of civil society and political parties are enhanced;

5.    Calls on EU delegations to reach out to democratic forces in partner countries and to enhance their communication on the actions and initiatives undertaken by the EU and the decisions taken at the AU-EU Summit;

6.    Demands that the EU take the opportunity presented by the negotiation on the establishment of a post-Cotonou framework, considering the Cotonou Agreement is expiring in 2020, to support a budgetisation of the European Development Fund, so as to strengthen the democratic control, accountability and transparency of funding through the scrutiny role played by the European Parliament;

7.   Acknowledges that regional integration can support Africa’s growth potential and act as a catalyst for peace and prosperity, calls for the establishment of an African Free Trade Area that could double the growth of intra-African trade;

8.    Calls for an increased cooperation between the European and African private sectors and for a concentration of investment in key sectors such as sustainable energy, basic infrastructure, sustainable use of natural resources and agriculture;

9.    Calls on the EU and its Member States to promote renewable energy projects in Africa in order to counter the negative effects of climate change and to push for a sustainable development path; while supporting the implementation of the electrification of African urban and rural areas;

10. Suggests the introduction of the Erasmus+ programme into the African continent as a natural successor of the Erasmus Mundus programme with the aim of increasing widespread education, particularly targeting girls and women and<s>;</s> to expand the Students at Risk programme and bring it under Erasmus +[1];

11. Encourages the EU and its Member States to explore further options for legal migration, such as opportunities to apply for asylum on African soil; while ensuring that refugee camps respect international humanitarian principles;

12. Demands that EU humanitarian aid is scaled up to ensure that emergency aid reaches its target in order to avert an immediate humanitarian disaster in several African regions and that this aid directly reaches local populations and communities;

13. Demands that the EU ensures and increases its commitment to fight against corruption in these regions;

14. Demands that the EU becomes a leading actor in Africa to disseminate and implement UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, in order to identify and clarify standards of corporate responsibility and accountability for transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights, aiming and enhancing accountability and access to a remedy in cases of business involvement in serious human rights abuses;

15. Reaffirms that the European Union should be committed to the defence of human rights everywhere in Africa and thus strongly supports joint efforts for the establishment of an AU-EU forum on democracy, human rights and elections to address deficiencies.


[1] Students at Risk (StAR) is a programme that gives student activists, who have experienced persecution, threats or expulsion from their higher education institution because of their peaceful activism and fight for human rights and democratic change, a chance to finish their education abroad in Europe.