December 6, 2022

How African and European leaders wasted valuable time and money at AU-EU summit in Brussels. They provided no solutions to Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis and nothing to end hunger, hopelessness, skyrocketing unemployment numbers, coups and attempted coups in Africa

EU-Africa summit opens in Brussels, Belgium
EU-Africa summit opens in Brussels, Belgium

The sixth summit between Africa and Europe has come and gone but nothing has changed on the ground. The same problems remain and the eight commitments that leaders from both continents made at the end of the summit on Friday were vague.

In their joint statement released at the end of the sixth EU-Africa summit in Brussels, Belgium, the leaders of Europe and Africa made eight bold commitments and vowed to engage as equal partners on a range of shared interests.

The two continents made immediate and long term commitments, including securing COVID-19 vaccines for Africans right now, and gradually “combatting Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) and addressing domestic tax base erosion, profit shifting (BEPS), and cooperating in tax transparency.”

“The immediate challenge is to ensure a fair and equitable access to vaccines. Together we will support local and regional mechanisms for procurement, as well as allocation and deployment of medical products,” the leaders of both continents wrote in their joint statement. “The EU reaffirms its commitment to provide at least 450 million of vaccine doses to Africa, in coordination with the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) platform, by mid-2022.”

African and European leaders come together for the EU-Africa summit in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, February 17, 2022

Both continents noted that “contributing to this and complementing the actions of the AVATT, Team Europe has provided more than USD 3 billion (i.e. the equivalent of 400 million vaccine doses) to the Covax Facility and to vaccination on the African continent.”

Looking ahead, Team Europe will mobilize EUR 425 million to ramp up the pace of vaccination, and in coordination with the Africa CDC, to support the efficient distribution of doses and the training of medical teams and the capacity of analysis and sequencing.

“We will also contribute in this context to the fight against health-related disinformation,” they said.

Both continents also committed to a renewed and enhanced cooperation for peace and security. 

“Facing growing common security challenges, we announce a renewed and enhanced peace and security cooperation. The two continents have a long-standing cooperation premised on the principle of African solutions to African problems, within the framework of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and reflected in the AU-EU MoU on Peace, Security and Governance (2018), designed to combat instability, radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism, tackling the root causes of conflicts, and addressing the entire conflict cycle through the integrated approach,” they wrote.

EU-Africa summit opens in Brussels, Belgium

However, there was nothing specific about the challenges Africans face right now, from the devastating crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region that has led to an atrocious humanitarian crisis to the panoply of coups and attempted coups in Africa; from rising hunger across the continent to skyrocketing unemployment numbers. Their eight commitments were so vague that they were difficult to understand.

On Thursday, Tigrayan demonstrators stormed the venue of the EU-Africa summit in Brussels, Belgium, and called on EU leaders to halt their support for “African dictators” like “Abiy Ahmed Ali” of Ethiopia.

The demonstrators carried flags and placards in front of the venue of the summit attended by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed Ali and other African heads of state, including the chairperson of the African Union, President Macky Sall of Senegal.

Tigrayan demonstrators demanded that the humanitarian blockade imposed by the Ethiopian government be fully lifted to save lives and get help to the people in need. They also called on European and African leaders to “stop Tigray genocide.”

Tigray demonstrators protesting at Au-EU summit in Brussels.

The United Nations estimates that thousands of people have been killed in northern Ethiopia since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali ordered a military offensive against the Tigray people’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on November 4, 2020, following an attack on a federal government base.

The conflict has also displaced hundreds of thousands of people and put many more at an increased risk of famine.

For months, since July of 2021, the government of Abiy Ahmed Ali refused to allow any humanitarian access to the Tigray region, which is located in northern Ethiopia. The humanitarian blockade was condemned by many in the international community, including the World Health Organization (WHO).

Tigrayans were also rounded up and detained at many cells across the nation, prompting accusations that an ethnic cleansing may be underway in Ethiopia.

Tigrayan protest in Brussels at EU-Africa summit

Human Rights Watch urges African leaders to act on Tigray

Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch called on African leaders who met in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, between February 5 and February 6, for the African Union summit, to urge Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali to release thousands of Tigrayans being held across the country. They should also use their time in Africa’s second most populous nation to address “rampant abuses occurring in the conflict in Ethiopia.”

The human rights organization noted that during the first two weeks of January, at least 108 civilians were killed in government airstrikes in Tigray, including 59 in a January 7 airstrike on an internal displacement site. 

“And while the government has released some detainees in recent weeks, thousands of Tigrayans arbitrarily detained under the country’s sweeping state of emergency remain in informal and formal detention sites,” it wrote.

The organization urged President Macky Sall of Senegal to ensure that civilian protection, human rights, and justice and accountability are the focus of the African Union’s agenda as he takes over leadership of the 55-country body.

But, when African and European leaders gathered in Brussels these past two days to forge a new alliance, one of the biggest problems in the continent was not front and center.

In the end, it seems African and European leaders wasted time and millions of dollars in Brussels, money that could have been used to resolving some of the problems in Africa.

Read full joint statement below that includes all the commitments between EU-Africa

6th European Union – African Union Summit: A Joint Vision for 2030

We, the Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) met on 17–18 February 2022 under the Co-Chairpersonship of H.E. Mr. Charles Michel, President of the European Council and H.E. Mr. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairperson of the African Union.

We recall the 5th AU-EU Summit held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on 29-30 November 2017 and the 2nd AU-EU Foreign Affairs Ministerial Meeting held in Kigali, Rwanda, on 25 – 26 October 2021.

1.               Aware of unprecedented and mounting common challenges and opportunities, the leaders of the EU and AU commit to a Joint Vision for a renewed Partnership to build a common future, as closest partners and neighbours.

2.               Two Unions, a joint vision. We agree that the aim of the Joint Vision is to consolidate a renewed Partnership for solidarity, security, peace and sustainable and sustained economic development and prosperity for our citizens and for our future generations, bringing together our people, regions and organisations.

This renewed Partnership will be founded on geography, acknowledgment of history, human ties, respect for sovereignty, mutual respect and accountability, shared values, equality between partners and reciprocal commitments.

It aims to be the driving force in promoting our common priorities, shared values, international law, and preserving together our interests and common public goods. This includes inter alia: the security and prosperity of our citizens, the protection of human rights for all, gender equality and women’s empowerment in all spheres of life, respect for democratic principles, good governance and the rule of law, actions to preserve the climate, environment and biodiversity, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, the fight against inequalities, support for children’s rights, and the inclusion of women, young people and the most disadvantaged. We recognise the importance of food security and nutrition and welcome the AU Theme of the Year 2022.

3.               A renewed Partnership. Our renewed Partnership addresses both the immediate opportunities and challenges, as well as the long-term possibilities offered by our partnership.

The immediate challenge is to ensure a fair and equitable access to vaccines. Together we will support local and regional mechanisms for procurement, as well as allocation and deployment of medical products. The EU reaffirms its commitment to provide at least 450 million of vaccine doses to Africa, in coordination with the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) platform, by mid-2022. Contributing to this and complementing the actions of the AVATT, Team Europe has provided more than USD 3 billion (i.e. the equivalent of 400 million vaccine doses) to the Covax Facility and to vaccination on the African continent.

Team Europe will mobilise EUR 425 million to ramp up the pace of vaccination, and in coordination with the Africa CDC, to support the efficient distribution of doses and the training of medical teams and the capacity of analysis and sequencing. We will also contribute in this context to the fight against health-related disinformation.

Learning from the current health crisis, we are committed to supporting the full-fledged African health sovereignty, in order for the continent to respond to future public health emergencies. To this end, we support a common agenda for manufacturing vaccines, medicines, diagnostics, therapeutics and health products in Africa, including investment in production capacities, voluntary technology transfers as well as strengthening of the regulatory framework to enable equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.

The African Union and the European Union underlined the urgency of the WTOs contribution to the fight against the pandemic and to the recovery of the global economy, and commit to engage constructively towards an agreement on a comprehensive WTO response to the pandemic, which includes trade related, as well as intellectual property related aspects.

In response to the macroeconomic effects of the Covid crisis on African economies, we support the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative. We also call for ambitious voluntary contributions, by channeling part of the recently allocated Special Drawing Rights, in order to achieve the total global ambition of at least USD 100 billion liquidity support to countries most in need, of which a major part should benefit Africa. We welcome the USD 55 billion that have been pledged already from the new allocation of SDRs, of which several EU Member States (Team Europe) have so far pledged USD 13 billion and encourage more EU member states to consider contributing to this global effort. African institutions, in consultation with national authorities, will be involved in the use of these SDRs to support the continent’s recovery. We will seek to ensure increased spending through international programmes in the fields of health, climate, biodiversity, education and security to facilitate economic recovery. We agree to examine lending instruments for sustainable investment projects in priority sectors. While enhancing our capacity to face these challenges, we agree that recovery investments should continue building resilience and more sustainable economies to achieve our long-term priorities.

We commit to combatting Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) and to addressing domestic tax base erosion, profit shifting (BEPS), and cooperate in tax transparency. In this regard, we agree to continue cooperating to develop and consolidate the strategic capability in the fight against different types of IFFs including money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and proliferation financing as well as those linked to fiscal governance systems and return of stolen funds and items from countries of origin.

Together, we will step up our support to scientific cooperation between researchers to develop knowledge together, as well as sharing technology and expertise, including through a joint AU-EU Innovation Agenda. We will encourage exchanges of young citizens, volunteers and students, through the expanded Erasmus+ programme and develop partnerships between universities, in order to improve our mutual understanding and foster excellence. We will strive to facilitate cultural exchanges and the movement of artists and artworks between our two continents, and encourage mutual undertaking for the restitution of cultural assets and promote access to and protection of cultural heritage.

4.               A prosperous and sustainable Africa and Europe. We announce an Africa-Europe Investment Package of at least EUR 150 billion that will support our common ambition for 2030 and AU Agenda 2063, composed of an Investment, a Health and an Education Package. The Investment Package will help build more diversified, inclusive, sustainable and resilient economies. Our two continents aim to demonstrate and share with the rest of the world the success of an agenda of prosperity respectful of our people and our planet. This Global Gateway Investment Package aims to boost public and private investment building on existing initiatives and partnerships. The Package will boost large-scale sustainable investments, supported by Team Europe Initiatives, with due consideration to the priorities and needs of the African countries, including: i) investment in energy, transport and digital infrastructure aligned with the PIDA PAP II; ii) energy transition that is fair, just and equitable, taking into account specific and diverse orientations of the African countries with regards to access to electricity; iii) green transition including supporting the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) of African Countries under the Paris Agreement to enhance mitigation and adaptation; iv) Digital transformation that supports trusted connectivity through investments in infrastructures and an affordable and enhanced access to the digital and data economy while boosting digital entrepreneurship and skills; v) sustainable growth and decent job creation, including by investing in the establishment of youth-owned businesses in Africa; vi) transport facilitation and efficiency of connected transport networks; vii) human development, notably through scaling up mobility and employability of students, young graduates and skilled workers. It will support industrialisation and the development of sustainable and resilient value and supply chains.

The Package will be complemented with specific packages in support of health and education systems. For the health sector, we will support initiatives for pandemic preparedness, health security and equitable access to quality essential health services, in line with the Rome Declaration adopted at the Global Health Summit. For education, we will invest in inclusive and equitable quality education by improving policy and legal frameworks, access and teacher training, to contribute to safe delivery of education services and ensure learning gaps resulting from the pandemic are addressed. To this end we will promote opportunity oriented technical and professional Vocational Education and Training, including at regional level.

To implement the Package, we will leverage public funds to stimulate private investments by mobilising innovative financing instruments. We commit to promote accountable, transparent, inclusive and responsive governance, in conformity with the relevant international instruments, to boost efforts towards improving investment and the business climate as well as towards unlocking and increasing responsible and sustainable African and European investments. We will use all means of implementation, including Official Development Assistance and financial tools such as infrastructure trusts and capital market instruments, to ensure support to African entrepreneurship in engaging in strong and vibrant economies. International and national financing development institutions, including the European Investment Bank, and the African Development Bank, and public/private partnerships will be mobilised to this effect. We will continue our work to leverage and facilitate transparent remittances, including the reduction of transaction costs, for the development of national and local economies.

We will also boost regional and continental economic integration, particularly through the African Continental Free Trade Area. The existing trade agreements between the EU and some African countries have contributed to the strengthening and deepening of trade and economic development between the two continents. We will work gradually towards the progressive and mutually beneficial integration of our respective continental markets.

5.               A renewed and enhanced cooperation for peace and security. Facing growing common security challenges, we announce a renewed and enhanced peace and security cooperation. The two continents have a long-standing cooperation premised on the principle of African solutions to African problems, within the framework of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and reflected in the AU-EU MoU on Peace, Security and Governance (2018), designed to combat instability, radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism, tackling the root causes of conflicts, and addressing the entire conflict cycle through the integrated approach. We express our commitment to foster our cooperation through support for adequate training, capacity building and equipment, to strengthen and scale up autonomous peace operations of African defence and security forces, including through EU missions and assistance measures, as well as support for law-enforcement capacity-building. Together, we will also continue to support African-led Peace Support Operations and the on-going discussions on the use of UN-assessed contributions for operations authorised by the UN Security Council, and the implementation of the AU human rights compliance framework in that context. We will intensify our cooperation on security, including on cybersecurity. We will join efforts to further promote the rule of law and the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security, Children and Armed Conflict and the Youth, Peace and Security Agendas, and underpin it with concrete actions to achieve durable peace. We will continue to respect and promote compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law.

6.               An enhanced and reciprocal partnership for migration and mobility. We will continue addressing all aspects of migration and mobility, in line with national competences, in an integrated, comprehensive and balanced manner. We will work in a spirit of joint responsibility and commitment, in full respect of international law and fundamental human rights. Through joint action and capacity-building, including with dedicated African migration institutions, we will aim at preventing irregular migration, enhance cooperation against smuggling and trafficking in human beings, support strengthened border management and achieve effective improvements on return, readmission and reintegration, including promoting voluntary return and facilitating sustainable reintegration of returned persons, as well as enhancing migration dialogues between the two Continents and delivering on their key priorities. We will deepen our cooperation in finding durable solutions for those asylum seekers, refugees and vulnerable migrants in need of international protection and commit to revitalize the work of the joint AU-EU-UN Tripartite Task Force. We will further strengthen asylum systems with a view to providing adequate reception and protection for those entitled, as well as work on their integration. We will keep addressing the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement, and enhance cooperation on tackling all issues related to migration. Respecting national needs, competencies and legal frameworks, pathways for legal migration opportunities will be further developed between both continents and within Africa. We commit to addressing the challenges posed by the brain drain, and investing in youth and women to support their empowerment, skills, education and employment prospects, notably through increased support for technical and vocational education and training.

7.               A commitment to multilateralism. We will work together to promote effective multilateralism within the rules-based international order, with the UN at its core. We pledge to work towards more converging positions in multilateral fora to reduce global inequalities, strengthen solidarity, promote international cooperation, fight and mitigate climate change and improve delivery on ‘global public goods’, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and AU Agenda 2063. We commit to providing political support to achieve the necessary reform of the WTO and to improve its functioning with a view to strengthening the multilateral trading system. Both sides commit to contribute to the UN system reform efforts, including of the UN Security Council. We also recommit to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and the outcomes of the COPs. We recognise that Africa’s energy transition is vital for its industrialisation and to bridge the energy gap. We will support Africa in its transition to foster just and sustainable pathways towards climate neutrality. We recognise the importance of making use of available natural resources within that energy transition process.We support Africa’s hosting of COP 27 in Egypt in 2022, as well as an ambitious global biodiversity framework. We commit to working together to develop a new ambitious WHO international agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

8.               We welcome the fruitful discussions in the Roundtable Sessions on Financing for sustainable and inclusive growth; Climate change and energy transition, digital and transport (connectivity and infrastructure); Peace, Security and Governance; Private sector support and economic integration; Education, culture and vocational training, migration and mobility; Agriculture and sustainable development; and Health systems and vaccine production held during the Summit.

We take note of the contributions by the Youth, Civil Society, Local authorities and private sector during the Africa-Europe Week and the Europe-Africa Business Forum and we encourage all relevant stakeholders to continue to engage towards our renewed Partnership.

We commit to following up on our engagements to monitor the implementation of the commitments undertaken during AU-EU Summits. Follow-up will be done on a regular basis via existing AU-EU structures, including the AU-EU Ministerial Follow-up Committee.

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