- Area of Expertise
Europe and Africa are engaged in a much-needed attempt to reset relations. Over a decade after the launch of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the partnership clearly needs to adapt to new global, regional and national realities. The success of the endeavour will depend not only on interaction between African and European governments but also on the engagement and contribution of independent, high-level African and European personalities with a joint commitment to improving Africa-Europe relations.
Africa and Europe are changing fast, challenging past perceptions, out-of-date views and old patterns when it comes to their partnership. On one hand, Africa, with its youthful population and increased access to technology as well as improvements in infrastructure, health and education, is embarking on a potentially transformative journey. On the other hand, Europe is also experiencing change through its ageing demographics, new political and social landscapes as well as rapidly advancing era of digitalisation. Transformation in both continents is being driven from within, but Africa and Europe can help each other speed up the transition and make sure it is heading towards the right direction.
The refreshed Africa-Europe partnership needs to be based on these new realities. As such it must be more balanced, with the focus on what Africa and Europe can do together to tackle common challenges and achieve shared goals and ambitions.
In a world where perceptions are becoming key policy-drivers, the new partnership should be based on a powerful new narrative of cooperation and collaboration, joint ownership of ideas and initiatives and the search for win-win solutions.
Crafting the new Africa-Europe story requires the input of government actors but must also be enriched by contributions from high-level independent and forward-looking experts and thought leaders who are ready to help modernise a valuable and important partnership in order to equip it to meet new challenges.
Friends of Europe, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the ONE Campaign are drawing upon each other’s expertise and longstanding networks of high-level stakeholders from both continents to assemble an independent and balanced group of respectable top-level leaders, to informally exchange views in order to accompany and advise on the deepening partnership process.
The high-level group of personalities will explore mutually beneficial ways for the two continents to work together effectively across core policy areas. The selected EU and African personalities are high-level experts and much-respected and experienced thinkers who can provide honest and direct opinions and ideas, not afraid to speak truth to power. These personalities will include a balanced representation of African and European stakeholders, including representatives from the public, private and civil society sectors. Their reputation, experience and knowledge of the issues raised will ensure that they receive public and media attention.
This high-level group of personalities will help craft a new narrative for a modernised and prospect-oriented Africa-Europe relationship. Their suggestions and recommendations will not only spur debate but also ensure that state policies and actions also reflect the perspectives of an experienced group of high-level experts from both continents. Their recommendations will notably feed into the strategies of upcoming political discussions in Africa and the EU.
We see a clear and timely opportunity to complement the “official processes” between Africa and Europe – including the African Union-EU dialogue – by gathering insights on the practical follow-up, further refining and implementation of policies and actions with a focus on the mid- to long-term dimension of the Africa-Europe relationship. Informal and trusted discussions will centre on the overall challenges and opportunities in the partnership but also on specific areas which need further exploration.
Africa-Europe relations need to be brought onto the agendas of a broader range of stakeholders. We can enrich these conversations by setting them in their appropriate global context.
Given the current global landscape and new realities in Africa and Europe, the time is right to step up interaction and cooperation at all levels. This can only be achieved through multi-stakeholder dialogue and engagement. This initiative will also seek to raise relevant media coverage of policy innovations and spark new thinking on Africa-Europe Relations to support the creation of new public narratives and multiply awareness and engagement.
The group was set up following an informal and exploratory meeting held on November 2017 in Brussels and an exchange with five European Commissioners as well as the President of the European Parliament, and was launched in October 2018. The group meets biannually on an ad-hoc basis with African and European leaders who are designing the future relationship between the two continents, with meeting locations alternating between Africa and Europe.
The high-level group of personalities will work together effectively to identify the priorities and next steps that Africa and Europe must take to enhance core policy areas including development cooperation, trade, investments, entrepreneurship, digital development, migration flows, security, and climate change. Members of the group will be asked to submit in-depth expertise and knowledge, to help identify the progress which needs to be made and the optimal ways in which to achieve them.
Confirmed group members include
Co-Chief Executive Officer of Gokada
Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB); former Head of Strategy and Policy for the Office of the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame
Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA)
Co-Founder of the ONE Campaign
Deputy Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS); Member of the Moderate Party of Sweden; former Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden
Joaquim Alberto Chissano
Former president of the Republic of Mozambique and former president of the African Union
Belgian Minister of State and former vice-president of the European Commission
Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe
Former prime minister of Ethiopia and former president of the African Union
Chief Executive Officer of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and former Minister for Social Affairs of the State of Baden Württemberg, Germany
Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain; former Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC)
Chair and Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Former president of the Republic of Liberia and Nobel Peace Laureate
High Representative for the Peace Fund of the African Union Commission and former president of the African Development Bank (AfDB)
African Union Commission High Representative for Silencing the Guns in Africa, former African Union commissioner for peace and security, and former minister of foreign affairs of Algeria
Honorary President of Notre Europe - Jacques Delors Institute, former director general of the World Trade Organisation, and former European commissioner for trade
EU Special Representative for the Serbia-Kosovo Dialogue, former Slovakian deputy prime minister and former president of the United Nations General Assembly
Member of the Board of Trustees of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and former European commissioner for research, science, and innovation, and former Portuguese undersecretary of state
Former president of Botswana
Chair of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI); former Minister of Finance of Nigeria
Executive Secretary of The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
Programme Executive at Friends of Europe