It is time for a new agreement between Africa and the EU. Photo: European Parliament, Flickr


Africa and the EU are negotiating a new Cotonou agreement

The Cotonou Agreement, which is under negotiation, regulates the relationship between the EU and the group of states in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. North Africa is not included and the Cotonou Agreement thus overlooks the region's importance for Europe and the rest of Africa in matters of migration and security.

The Cotonou Agreement ends at the turn of the year and negotiations on a new agreement between the EU and the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States are in full swing. The current the agreement regulates the relationship between the EU and the countries in sub - Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific ACP States. The agreement deals with peace issues, migration, mobility and security. The main focus of the Cotonou Agreement is on integrating the ACP States into the world economy through aid and free trade. The agreement has been met with criticism for being old-fashioned. The criticism that has been highlighted is that the agreement's focus on aid and free trade is characterized by a donor-recipient mentality that reflects an outdated north-south relationship. This in turn leads to the countries of sub-Saharan Africa becoming dependent on aid.

The EU's vision and the importance of North Africa

EU Foreign Representative Borrell and EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Urpilainen, at the same time point out the importance of one cooperation between Africa and Europe. Borrell and Urpilainen advocate that the continents work together on peace and migration issues. The Cotonou Agreement also addresses peace and migration issues and at the same time excludes North Africa as a party to the agreement. The agreement therefore appears to be contradictory in relation to Borrell and Urpilainen's vision of cooperation between the two continents. North Africa's importance for Africa's peace, migration and security cannot be overemphasized - as Africa's external borders with Europe play an important role in the continents' peace and migration issues.

Only in 2019 passed 124 000  migrants Mediterranean via North Africa, according to SVT. Excluding North Africa in matters concerning migration and security between Africa and the EU is therefore problematic. 

The shortcomings of the agreement 

The shortcomings of the Cotonou Agreement become even clearer when the differences between the ACP States are taken into account. For example, it would be naive to assume that the wealthy island states in the Caribbean and the Pacific and sub-Saharan African developing countries face the same challenges when the economic conditions of the regions differ. It also differs considerably in the conditions and circumstances of the regions when it comes to peace, migration and security issues. The countries should also not negotiate under the same agreement.

A potential agreement in line with the EU's vision

An agreement between the EU and the African Union is a potential partnership that was in line with Borrell and Urpilainen's vision of cooperation between the two continents. Unlike the Cotonou Agreement, such an agreement had enabled a necessary and North African inclusion in matters of peace, migration and security between Africa and Europe. The African Union have had to resist criticism from Alfredo Tijerino Hengari, among others, who believes that the organization is unstructured. Despite the criticism, there are opportunities for favorable cooperation where the African Union is given the chance to organize and establish itself in the international community.

The potential of the new agreement

The African the economy has had a growth for a long time according to the World Bank. According to them, the future of Africa looks bright. Africa and the EU therefore need a new agreement, the structure of which takes into account the development of Africa and which does not result in an African dependency on aid. Furthermore, the agreement needs to include North Africa and take into account the region's importance for the two continents. The inclusion of the whole of Africa, in turn, enables Africa and the African Union to reach their full potential and be considered a serious international player. The time has come for Africa to establish itself as a strong player in the international community. 

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