From 8th to 9th December 2007 heads of states and governments of African countries and of the European Union will meet in Lisbon for the second time ever to conclude a common vision and joint strategy for future relations. The first EU Africa summit- held in Cairo in 2000 - ended with the adoption of the Cairo Declaration. In recent years and with achievements like the EU Africa strategy of 2005, the foundation of the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), but also the negotiations for new regional free trade agreements, the so-called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), the relationship between the EU and Africa has evolved substantially.
The EU wants mutual relations to move towards a new strategic partnership that is guided by the political vision of a joint EUAfrica strategy. The joint strategy is an attempt to concentrate fragmented EU sector policies dealing with African countries into a coherent strategy that serves the promotion of peace and security, sustainable development and democratic governance.
But in political reality, are these objectives what the ambitious joint strategy is to accomplish? Are the institutional preconditions met in both Europe and in Africa to implement the joint strategy? What is the meaning of a true and equal partnership if it is to evolve beyond - politically correct - rhetoric and past experiences? Will Europe be able to free itself from the paternalism of the past? How does the EU’s economic self-interest relate to Africa’s economic development? Will the expanding EU security interests- from supporting peace operations to meeting its energy supplies - dominate other external policies such as development or humanitarian aid? Judging by the outcomes of the recent G8 summit in Germany a long way is still to go.
These are some of the political challenges on the eve of the EU Africa summit. Taking into account latest developments in governance, security, energy, trade and economic development between the EU and African countries the international conference aims to shed light on existing obstacles and political challenges a new vision for EU-Africa-relations faces as they appear from
A brief summary of the conference contributions and discussions as well as a detailed programme can be downloaded as pdf file below.