Print logo

Special seminar met with great interest
New Transatlantic Partnership Perspectives with Africa

As the EU and the US are recalibrating their policies towards Africa, the HSF, the ISS and the CSIS Washington discussed with experts from Africa, the US and the EU if and how a new transatlantic partnership between Europe and the US can also contribute to even stronger relations with Africa.

The European Union and the United States are recalibrating their policies towards Africa. Various concepts and approaches are under discussion on both sides of the Atlantic, with nobody underestimating the strategic importance of Africa and a sustainable partnership with the continent.

Together with the African Institute for Security Studies and the Center for Strategic & International Studies in the US we discussed with experts from Africa, the US, and the EU if and how a new transatlantic partnership between Europe and the US can contribute to an even stronger relation with the African continent and what needs to change to avoid mistakes from the past.

Under the Trump administration, the United States have steadily walked away from Africa, which has also left the field clear for China and Russia to make giant strides. During his first 100 days in office, President Biden has already shown respect and commitment to working with other countries and the international community.

For sure, a renewed EU partnership with Africa should be implemented in close partnership with the US and focus on opportunities as much as dealing with crises.

Here are a few points we took away from this exciting discussion:

Development Cooperation:

  • Africa is developing but slower than other world regions, and will miss the SDG to eliminate poverty by 2030 by a large margin.
  • To improve its development prospects Africa requires a series of fundamental transitions in health, demographics, agriculture, education, manufacturing, technology and trade integration.
  • EU/US development cooperation policy should therefore rather focus on unlocking development paths by supporting reforms in those fields, and foster long-term investment in development drivers such as the rollout of electricity, rather than invest in big once-off infrastructure projects.
  • Partnerships must not be a zero sum game. Africa needs to deepen and expand its relations with the EU, the US, China and others, but must not get trapped in their power battles.
  • To start with, the value of partnerships will be reflected in providing vaccines for Africa and debt relief to ease the burden of the devasting economic consequences of Covid-19.

Peace & Security:

  • Human rights violations and corruption are key roadblocks to preventing and mitigating violent conflict and forced displacement in Africa. In light of this, the EU and the US should not only emphasize engagements with African governments but also support civil society and institution building, as well as strengthening the rule of law and democracy.
  • Conflict prevention is cheaper than conflict management: For this reason EU/US efforts should focus at supporting regional alliances, and help allocating the necessary resources to defence training, and step up their funding for AU peace missions.

Ultimately, only Africans and the AU can address the many challenges the continent is facing, and attend to the root causes for conflicts and development backlogs. However, external assistance, strong partnerships and coordinated efforts can go a long way in facilitating economic growth and promoting good governance and democratisation.

Watch a recording of the seminar with Dr Jakkie Cilliers from the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, Judd Devermont of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, and Bernard Quintin from the European External Action Service:


Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive event invitations and new publications as well - and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for news about our work.