In March 2020 the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, presented the new strategy on Africa aimed at reshaping relations between the EU and African countries. Ahead of the eagerly awaited EU-Africa Summit, the EESC has gone a step further by proposing a sustainable EU-Africa partnership based on universal human rights, democratic structures, long-term investments in infrastructure and the full inclusion of organised civil society.
This proposed new relationship between the EU and Africa cannot be built on the outdated approach of industrial policy and growth, which is harmful for the planet and has very negative social consequences. The focus, says the EESC, must be on fair distribution of wealth and the creation of welfare state structures.
In practical terms, the EESC points out that the EU development partnership must give stronger support to the creation of local public education systems at all levels, with a broadening of the Erasmus+ programme. The ultimate goal would be to avoid a "brain drain" from Africa to the EU and to reverse migration.
The outgoing president of the EESC, Luca Jahier, pointed out that Africa has been one of the main priorities of his term of office and highlighted that the ongoing project of building an African Continental Free Trade Area would create synergies with the EU internal market. Mr Jahier mentioned migration and the necessary involvement of African civil society in the upcoming EU-ACP partnership and concluded by saying that
Africa has not lost its centrality to the EESC's agenda despite the COVID-19 pandemic. (dgf)