Friday, 3 August 2007

EU–Africa Strategy

On 27 June the Commission approved a Communication ‘From
Cairo to Lisbon: the EU-Africa strategic partnership’. Ahead of the
European Union–Africa summit to be held in Lisbon during December
2007, the European Commission adopted a Communication
proposing a strategic partnership between the European Union and
Africa for a joint European Union–Africa strategy. The EU and
Africa will aim to redefine their existing partnership. The
Commission has stressed that the EU is the most important Africa

The Commission believes that the approaching EU-Africa
Summit marks “an opportunity for the political leaders of the two
continents to make strong action-oriented political commitments on
current key international issues.” The African and EU Heads of State
and government will sign, at the Summit, “a Lisbon Declaration” –
an EU–African consensus on values, common interest and strategic
objectives” and they will adopt as well a Joint Strategy, which will be
“a political vision and guideline for the future of the EU–Africa
strategic partnership.”

Portugal has close and strong ties with several African countries,
mainly with its former colonies. In this area, Portugal has had more
political influence in the EU due to its historic relationship with
African countries, in particular in its former colonies, and may
push for the channelling of Community aid. The Commission has
said in its Communication that the Summit will promise to be a
success. Socrates has stressed that the EU–Africa summit in
December will be the Portuguese Presidency’s biggest initiative.
However, the Portuguese Presidency has not started off on the
right foot – in particular, the 2003 EU–Africa Summit was
postponed as several Member States were against the presence of
Robert Mugabe. This year, Portugal wishes to ‘invite’ Mugabe
although it hopes to ensure that Zimbabwe’s President does not
actually attend the event. Portugal is already under pressure from
some African leaders saying they will not attend the summit if
Mugabe is present. Some EU Member States – mainly the UK – is
against the idea of Mugabe’s presence at the summit.

It should be noted that since 2002, the EU has held a travel ban on
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and members of his ruling
party. As Neil Parish had said “the travel ban is pointless if we
continue to invite Mugabe to the more prestigious meetings on
European soil. The Portuguese Presidency is sending out a terrible
signal that we are prepared to do business with dictators. This
invitation is a disgrace and must be revoked.” Luís Amado, the
Portuguese Foreign Affairs Minister, also said to the European
Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee while presenting the Portuguese
programme, “I am not delighted at the idea of Mugabe
attending the summit, but of course the AU must stick to its own rules.”
However, he has not sought to clarify the Presidency’s intentions
with regards to President Robert Mugabe. It remains to be seen
which diplomatic ‘recipe’ will be found by the Portuguese
Presidency in order to resolve this issue.

More crucially, the EU has been accused of distributing aid
ineffectively and inefficiently. The group, Action for Global Health,
published on 4 July a report ‘Health Warning: Why Europe must act
now to rescue the health Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs).
Whilst recognising some progress has been made in achieving the
MDG, it is insufficient. They are particularly concerned about the
health goals which are considerably “off-track.” According to the
report, Europe is not doing enough to support developing countries
achieve the MDG by 2015.

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