The EU-Africa Partnership

On 22 April 2015, the College of the European Commission welcomes to Brussels the College of the African Union Commission for their annual meeting. This is this year’s key event in the partnership between the European Union and Africa and the first College-to-College meeting of the new European Commission. It will give fresh impetus in the already vigorous relationship between two strategic partners who share common values, priorities and challenges – not only bilaterally, but also on the global level.

The political framework of cooperation between the EU and Africa is the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES), adopted in 2007, the first and only intercontinental partnership strategy. The Africa-EU Partnership is enshrined in the JAES: a partnership of equals, determined to tackle together issues of common concern.

In April 2014, the 4th EU-Africa Summit took place under the theme “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace”. The Summit agreed that the implementation of the Joint Strategy during 2014-2017 should focus on five priority areas:

  • Peace and Security
  • Democracy, Good Governance and Human Rights
  • Human Development
  • Sustainable and Inclusive Developmental Growth and Continental Integration
  • Global and Emerging Issues

EU-Africa relations

The EU is Africa’s biggest trading partner; around a fifth of global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in Africa comes from EU companies.

This partnership goes far beyond trade; over the period 2014-2020, the EU will invest almost €40 billion for the African continent, with a focus on development and other priorities, such as governance, migration and human rights; human development; energy and infrastructure and sustainable agriculture and food security. The EU and its Member States are the biggest contributors to the African Union programme budget, supporting approximately 80% of it, in particular through the newly created Pan-African programme to support African continental cooperation and integration.

The EU has been committed to help Africa achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

  • 31.9 million people have been assisted through social transfers for food security in Africa between 2004-2013 (goal 1)
  • 3.4 million people received technical and vocational training (goal 1)
  • 9.4 million new pupils enrolled in primary education (goal 2)
  • 170,000 new female students have enrolled in secondary education, regardless of age in Africa between 2004 and 2013 (goal 3)
  • 5.1 million children under one year of age have been immunised against measles in Africa between 2004-2013 (goal 4)
  • 5.4 million births attended by skilled health personnel (goal 5)
  • 261,000 people with advanced HIV infection received antiretroviral combination therapy. (goal 6)
  • 41 million people have been connected to improved drinking water. (goal 7)

While progress towards the MDGs is remarkable, it was uneven: while most African countries are off track regarding the MDGs, many are among those that made greatest progress from their initial conditions.

In addition to development support, around 40% of EU humanitarian aid goes for projects in Africa every year. This means that the solidarity of European citizens helps save millions of lives on the African continent through food assistance, essential healthcare, shelter for displaced populations and first aid for the victims of conflicts and disasters.


Working together on peace and security

As part of a deepening political dialogue on peace and security and an increasing convergence of positions on African issues, the EU and AU Political and Security Committees (PSCs) held a joint field mission to Mali in February 2015, the first one of its kind.

The African Peace Facility (APF): The APF was created in 2004 as an innovative instrument constituting the main source of funding to support the African peace and security. Since 2004 the EU has provided €1.3 billion through it to back African efforts in the area of peace and security on the continent. This has, for example, allowed a number of African-led peace operations to take place, such as the AU Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), the International Support Mission MISCA in the Central African Republic (CAR) and six accomplished missions in Sudan, the Comoros, the CAR and Mali.

Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions: over the last decade, 16 CSDP missions have been deployed in Africa to preserve peace, prevent conflict and strengthen international security.

  • Seven military missions: ARTEMIS, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); EUFOR RD Congo; EUFOR, Chad/CAR; EU NAVFOR ATALANTA; EUTM Somalia; EUTM Mali; EUFOR RCA, CAR), EUMAM RCA
  • Nine civilian missions: EUPOL Kinshasa, DRC; EUSEC DRC; Support to AMIS II, Sudan/Darfur; EUPOL DRC; EU SSR, Guinea-Bissau; EUAVSEC South Sudan; EUCAP NESTOR; EUCAP Sahel, Niger; EUBAM Libya, EUCAP Sahel Mali

Cooperation and results in the field of democracy and human rights

The EU regularly deploys election observation missions in Africa, often coordinated with observers from the AU and regional economic communities.

The EU-AU Human Rights Dialogue is held annually. Work covers areas such as freedom of association, business and human rights and abolition of the death penalty.


Examples of other areas of EU-Africa cooperation

Migration: The European Union is a leading donor when it comes to migration and development – over €1 billion has been spent on more than 400 projects on migration between 2004 and 2014, and more than half of those projects are in support of our African partner countries.  

Infrastructure: The Africa-EU Infrastructure Trust Fund (AITF) blends grants from the EU with loans from other investors for projects in the area of infrastructure. To date, AITF has awarded over 100 grants to infrastructure projects that represent a total value of over €7 billion in the investment phase.

Agriculture: In Africa, the livelihoods of about 60 % of the population depend on agriculture. The EU has disbursed over €3.5 billion for food security in Africa between 2007 and 2014.

For the period 2014-2020, food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture were chosen as focal sector for bilateral EU cooperation in 33 African countries.

Water: An expected 17.8 million people will gain access to water and 6.3 million to sanitation as a result of the African component of the ACP/EU Water Facility.

Energy: With EU support, Africa improved access to modern energy services for over 18.2 million people between 2007 and 2012. Over the same period, the EU has contributed to provide access to electricity to over 600.000 households in Africa, 15,700 kilometres of electricity lines were installed and 78,000 jobs in the energy sector created.

Climate change: Cooperation between the EU and Africa was vital to agree at the 2011 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa on new international negotiation objectives. Africa has received climate related EU aid amounting to €3.7 billion since 2002.

Environment: So far, fivelegally-bindingVoluntaryPartnership Agreements have been concluded between the EU and timber-producing African countries under the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative.

Higher Education: Around 80 universities across Africa have been involved in the Intra-ACP academic mobility scheme partnerships which are organising mobility across Africa for around 1,300 Master students and doctorates and for more than 270 academic staff members.

Almost 2,000 students across Africa have received scholarships for Erasmus Mundus Master Courses. More than 3,700 students at Bachelor, Master, doctoral and post-doctoral level, as well as 620 academic staff from Africa have so far undertaken mobility in the framework of the Erasmus Mundus Action 2 partnerships.

Research and innovation: The 7th EU Framework Programme for Research (FP7) has funded some 600 cooperative research projects on issues related to food security, climate change, health and energy, with over 1000 participants from 45 African countries. In addition, Marie Curie fellowships were offered to some 400 African and European fellows at research centres in both continents.

Information Society/Information and communication technologies:The EU funded AfricaConnect programme project has established a high-capacity Internet network for research and education in Southern and Eastern Africa providing the region with a gateway to global research collaboration. It has extended and complemented the UbuntuNet network, the first regional research and education network in sub-Saharan Africa, connecting eight countries in the region (Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Ruanda, Zambia, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa).These countries are able for the first time to exchange research and education traffic in Africa without transiting through Europe. AfricaConnect has brought an average of 80% price reduction for broadband communication tariffs for the educational sector.


For more information:

African Union Commission and European Commission meet to bring new impetus to the EU-Africa partnership:

Factsheet on the European Union’s cooperation with Africa on migration:

Website of the Africa-EU Partnership:

Source: General