Europe and Africa must move away from a donor-recipient relationship, Parliament says, as MEPs vision for a deeper relationship between the two continents.
On Thursday, MEPs adopted a wide-ranging strategy for a new EU-Africa partnership by 460 votes in favour, with 64 votes against and 163 abstentions.
The strategy emphasises that human development must be at the centre of future EU-Africa relations, prioritising education, including teacher training, reducing early school leaving, and concentrate on the inclusion of girls. A future EU-Africa strategy should also aim to improve health care and national health systems.
Additionally, MEPs call for cooperation on issues such as the green transition, energy, digital transformation, sustainable jobs, good governance and migration, as already identified by the Commission and the European External Action Service.
MEPs underline that the EU-Africa relationship must “move beyond the donor-recipient relationship”. Instead, the EU and Africa should cooperate on equal terms, as part of an EU-Africa strategy that empowers African governments to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), curb climate change, and foster gender equality, among other targets. To achieve this, MEPs call for substantial funds to be earmarked for the SDGs in the upcoming external financial instrument NDICI – Global Europe.
Expectations for a future strategy
Parliament’s expectations for the future EU-Africa strategy also include long-term EU financial and technical support for African countries to boost climate adaptation, and today’s report includes a demand for Europe to support African regional integration with the intention of eventually helping to reduce the continent’s dependence on foreign imports.
The EU also has to encourage African ambitions for a continental free trade area, while international lenders, such as the IMF and the World Bank, should do more to relieve African government debt, MEPs stress.
Finally, they demanded the EU protects sexual and reproductive health and rights in the new partnership, alongside the safeguarding of the human dignity of refugees and migrants.
Rapporteur Chrysoula Zacharopoulou (Renew, FR), said: Africa, in all its diversity and desire to release its untapped potential, will have a decisive impact on the future of the world. Our African friends are our allies and all Europeans have to grasp the importance and the opportunity that this partnership offers to us. This Parliament wants a partnership that places human relationships at its centre, which starts with reinforcing Africa’s healthcare systems; we also have to implement an EU-Africa Green Pact. To succeed, we will need all 27 member states – and not just a select few – to actively engage in this partnership.”
The resolution will contribute to the development of the future EU-Africa strategy. The process will be concluded with the adoption of the joint strategy at the EU-African Union Summit, to be held later this year.
In 2020, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the renewal of the EU-Africa relationship.