"Africa needs a boost of democracy and good governance"
Did the recent 5th EU-African Union Summit in Abidjan, focusing on the future relations between the EU and Africa, live up to its promise? Was the main theme of “Youth” dealt with in sufficient depth?
Yes, my response is resolutely positive. There was a lot of enthusiasm for this 5th Summit, with preparations under way for a long time beforehand. I can’t deny that the news coverage by CNN of slavery in Libya affected the Summit, to the point of making it the object of the first joint declaration by the heads of state. But on the whole, the talk was of youth issues.
During the preparations for the Summit, the European Union took action, in particular by organising pre-summits at the European Parliament. This activity enabled us to refine our propositions to ensure that we were better prepared for the expectations of the African Union.
I also think that the topic of African youth dominated the preparations for the Summit to a sufficient extent with the mini-summit on the youth of the two continents, who will be responsible in future for managing EU-UA relations.
What do you anticipate from the forthcoming negotiations between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) on the post-Cotonou situation?
The Cotonou Agreement will certainly be revolutionary. The indistinct grouping of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) should leave room for more regionalisation. The aspect of interparliamentary collaboration should also be reinforced, to facilitate meetings and dialogue between us.
This latter aspect is therefore our priority and we are convinced that the quality of our work will determine the quality of the EU-ACP relations. Of course, we will not become a legislative assembly but our consultative character could, for example, benefit from an obligation clause in matters concerning the adoption of certain decisions.
The reforms should also define the framework of the continuity between the work of the national institutions of the ACP states and our own. Improved harmony between us will enable us to achieve better results.
In connection with development cooperation, will initiatives such as the recently launched external investment plan enable a move to be made from a donor-beneficiary relationship to an equitable, mutually beneficial partnership between the EU and the ACP states?
The leaders of the ACP states and the European heads of state all want to bring about equitable partnerships. Some old ways of thinking are now disparaged, such as that of aid that ends up not helping. Then there is the paternalistic way of thinking that presupposes European superiority over the ACP and ends up promoting the exploitation of the resources of others. This mindset is so repugnant today that people tend to see it implicit everywhere, even where it is not necessarily present.
The external investment plan speaks in plain language. It could in fact enable us to fight more effectively against subordination, provided that the African delegation is able to conduct negotiations with perspicacity and a clear vision.
Personally, I am a little uncertain about the “liberalist” slant of this fund, which will certainly contribute to achieving the UNO Sustainable Development Goals but only be for some and not all, as would be desirable.
How do you see the impact of the migration partnerships recently created by the EU with certain African countries and their ability to fight the deep-rooted causes of migration?
I’m afraid that migration remains the main driving force behind the European political machine, within the targeted initiatives to forge links with a certain number of African countries. Yet migration is to a large extent caused by injustice and inequality. This is why I have my reservations about certain agreements focussing on security, which tend to seek to prevent the mobility of people by military means.
However, I think that certain more specific partnerships are heading in the right direction, in particular those agreed with the Sahel states. These partnerships have a holistic approach to migration and seek to establish development projects. We need to wait a few years before seeing if the implementation of these partnerships will bear the fruit we hope for. One thing is for certain: Africa needs a boost of democracy and good governance to ensure that things improve overall.
In your opinion, what are the best ways of modernising the available tools and of making the EU’s efforts in the fight against human trafficking more effective?
Human trafficking is a terrible blight affecting Africa and certain countries in the world beyond. Even in Europe, there are numerous situations that equate to human trafficking, so some kind of global pact is needed to restrict and fight against this trafficking.
Even more than the European Union, it would be desirable for the African Union to get to grips with this situation and create the means to neutralise all traffickers, with the united and unanimous assistance of the international community. Africa should become the global driving force behind the fight against the trafficking of its children and I hope that it will take the fight to wherever its children are sold into slavery, including by means of only thinly disguised practices that are freely operated in Europe.
Interview by Johanna Touzel
Translated from the original text in French
EN The views expressed in europeinfos are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of COMECE and the Jesuit European Social Centre.