The future of the EU's cooperation with the African Union

November 03, 2021

2021 is a decisive year for African Union-European Union relations, not least for the planning of the sixth AU-EU Summit in Brussels. In early March 2020, the EU presented its document “Towards a comprehensive Strategy with Africa” that should pave the way towards a new partnership with the African continent.

However, is this approach fit for a new era or does it still hang in old paradigms? How do the AU and EU actually practice their relationship and how could it be brought forward?

This joint work by FEPS and the Fondation Jean Jaurès (FJJ) and in coordination with the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), analysis policy recommendations for AU and EU policy-makers and stakeholders, suggesting the way forward to upgrade cooperation to a balanced and inclusive partnership.

AU–EU Institutional Relations: Towards a New Era? - Jacopo Resti

This policy brief addresses the state and perspectives of African Union–European Union (AU–EU) cooperation in the run-up to the sixth AU–EU Summit, which has now been earmarked for February 2022.

It provides a broad overview of the framework and content of AU–EU institutional relations,
as well as of common and contested fields of cooperation. The core of the analysis is dedicated to revealing the main structural asymmetries preventing cooperation from achieving a partnership of equals.

These asymmetries originate deeper than the apparent differences in mandate, governance and resources between the two organisations and have their roots in the AU’s
capacity deficits and in the EU’s lack of a coherent narrative for Africa. In order to mitigate these asymmetries, the brief outlines a set of policy recommendations – highlighting the importance of strengthening AU external agency and improving EU policy coherence.

 Read the Policy Brief

The EU–AU Trade and Development Partnership: Towards a New Era? - Naiga Resty

This paper provides an overview of AU–EU trade and development relations with a specific focus on the main structural inequalities and drivers, and suggestions for building a more equitable partnership, but also on promoting African post COVID recovery.
Therefore, trade and development cooperation still remains a key area with the greatest potential to harness the relationship but also achieve the partnership’s long-term objectives.

Accordingly, this paper stresses the need to take a different approach in terms of priorities and negotiating stance within the proposed new EU strategy for Africa. It also provides policy recommendations for enhancing the trade and development cooperation arrangements in order to make the mutual-interest-based partnership a reality.

Read the Policy Brief

AU–EU Relations on Peace and Security - Bernardo Venturi

Peace and security (P&S) is a key component of the relations between the African Union and the European Union, and is likely to continue to play a central role in the future. Yet, some significant changes are possible in the role played by the African Union due to the launch of the European Peace Fund.

Against this backdrop, this paper aims to analyse the “state of the art” of AU–EU relations on peace and security and to consider its main trajectories. In this framework, it analyses some key lessons learned from AU–EU cooperation on peace and security from the last seventeen years. It then considers the main structural asymmetries and drivers between the two continents.

The assumption is that asymmetries continue to play an indirect but relevant role, even if they are rarely addressed systematically or
only specifically. Furthermore, the paper analyses the European Peace Facility and the current trajectory in AU–EU relations on P&S. Finally, a set of policy recommendations are provided to the AU and EU.

Read the Policy Brief

 The future of AU-EU cooperation Conference

Webinar, 19 October 2021

The AU-EU conference presented the main findings of the research project 'The future of AU-EU cooperation: Towards a new era?'.

Researchers looked at current practices in AU-EU cooperation by examining the main asymmetries and inequalities in three policy fields: institutional relations, development and trade, and peace and security.