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European Commission


Brussels, 23 April 2013

Key facts on the Joint Africa-EU Strategy

On 25-26 April, The African Union (AU) Commission and the European Commission will be meeting in Addis Ababa for their 6th annual College-to-College session. The high-level event serves as a political kick-off to pave the road for the upcoming Africa-EU summit in 2014. The agenda will revolve around common challenges faced by both continents, such as peace and security, and shared interests, in particular the pursuit of inclusive and sustainable growth.

Participants will also discuss progress and the way forward for the Joint Africa-EU strategy that puts EU relations with Africa on a new footing, based on the pursuit of shared values, common interests and strategic objectives. Both sides are determined to overcome the traditional donor-recipient relationship and strengthen their cooperation as equal partners, based on their shared long-term vision for Africa-EU relations in a globalised world.

The Africa-EU partnership has delivered results in different areas of cooperation, including peace and security, democratic governance, infrastructure, and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For example, the African Peace Facility is now recognised as the tool that helps to find ‘African solutions to African problems’, as demonstrated by on-going peace support operations in Somalia, the Central African Republic and Mali. In infrastructure, over 80 projects have received support for a total value of over €6.5 billion and it was estimated that the return on investment was 12 times what had initially been invested.

Even if Africa is expanding its economic relations with other continents, the EU remains Africa's top trading partner. The EU is also the main donor of Official Development Assistance to Africa worldwide. Since the adoption of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the EU has mainstreamed the new priorities in its various aid and cooperation instruments.

Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES)

The Joint Africa-EU Strategy was adopted by Heads of State and Government from Africa and Europe at the Lisbon Summit in December 2007.

The Joint Strategy focuses on moving:

  1. Beyond development cooperation, by opening up the Africa-EU dialogue and cooperation to issues of joint concern and interest such as jobs and trade;

  2. Beyond Africa by moving away from the traditional focus on purely African development matters, towards effectively addressing global challenges such as migration, climate change, peace and security;

  3. Beyond fragmentation, in supporting Africa’s aspirations to find trans-regional and continental responses to some of the most important challenges;

  4. Beyond institutions, in working towards a people-centred partnership, ensuring better participation of African and European citizens.

Based on these common principles, the Joint Africa-EU Strategy defines eight specific areas of cooperation:

1. Peace and Security,

2. Democratic Governance and Human Rights,

3. Trade, Regional Integration and Infrastructure,

4. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),

5. Energy,

6. Climate Change and Environment,

7. Migration, Mobility and Employment,

8. Science, Information Society and Space.

Key results of the Partnership

Since the 2010 Africa-EU Summit, the EU and Africa have been active in supporting the implementation of the second Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) action plan 2011-2013, which was set up by the European Commission, in collaboration with its African partners, to deliver more and better results.

The last Africa-EU Summit in November 2010 emphasised the need for a link between closer economic cooperation and integration, and highlighted the importance of increased private sector engagement. It also called for enhanced cooperation in the fields of science and information society: to create a more inclusive knowledge-based and globally competitive economy. In their Summit Declaration, leaders renewed their commitments and adopted an Action Plan (2011-2013), calling for reinforced cooperation in the eight priority areas and the setting up of support mechanisms to facilitate the process.

Under the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, results have been achieved in many areas of cooperation.

A few key examples are highlighted below:

The African Peace Facility (APF)

The APF is the operational tool of the Africa-EU partnership on peace and security. Through this instrument, the EU supports the AU and other African regional organisations in finding ‘African solutions to African problems’. The missions financed by the Facility are led and staffed by Africans.

Since the creation of the APF in 2004, the EU has committed more than €1.1 billion for Peace Support Operations (PSOs), Capacity-building programmes and the Early Response Mechanism (ERM). The three on-going Peace Support Operations are AMISOM (the AU Mission in Somalia), MICOPAX (the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in the Central African Republic) and AFISMA (the African-led International Support Mission to Mali).

The EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (AITF)

The EU-Africa Partnership on Infrastructure is a cornerstone of the EU Strategy for Africa. The partnership aims to increase European and African investment in infrastructure and related services. It mixes grants and loans to increase the total amount for infrastructure projects in Africa. Its total endowment is €746.4 million. The total allocation from the Commission now stands at €638 million. The remaining amount has been contributed by the participating EU Member States.

To date, the AITF has awarded over 80 grants to infrastructure projects that represent a total value of over €6.5 billion in the investment phase. Each Euro of AITF grant funding is estimated to generate €12 in total investments. Recent examples include the Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility in Central and East Africa, the Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone & Guinea Power Interconnector in Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, as well as the Kampala bypass in Uganda.

The African Union Support Programme (AUSP)

Through the AUSP the EU has allocated €55 million under the European Development Fund to provide support to AU institutions, notably to assist the African Union Commission (AUC) in speeding up the Institutional Reform Process. This support aimed to enable the AU Commission to effectively play its role as “motor” of the African integration process and to facilitate the deepening of the partnership between Africaand the EU. The AUSP will be followed-up with a second phase of in total €30 million as well as with amount of €10 million for technical support to support the implementation of the priorities of the second Action Plan of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy.

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)

Under the European Development Fund (EDF) and Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), Food Security Thematic Program, the EU has provided support to the CAADP process at continental, regional and national level. African Institutions (AUC, New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), Agency and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) were directly supported to lead the CAADP process (through a Multi Donor Trust Fund).

The implementation at national level shows significant achievements include the strengthened capacity of Member States to develop and implement CAADP-based Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plans as well as to coordinate policy development and harmonisation for effective design and implementation of country policies, strategies and plans. Apart from that, the funding and alignment to country agricultural development priorities by development partners has been increased while strong and credible partnerships for increased investments in agriculture have been created.    

Climate to Development in Africa (CLIMDEV Africa)

In April 2012, an €8 million contribution has been granted by the EU to the ClimDev Africa initiative to support Africa’s response to climate variability and climate change. The first step in this support was the setting-up of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), which provides support to the African Union Commission and its Member states in developing policies related to climate change and addresses the need for greatly improved climate information in Africa.

Moreover, one key activity consists of facilitating Africa’s contribution to the negotiation process on the post-2012 climate agreement through analytical studies and consultative workshops and providing support for the development of a common African position on climate issues. ClimDev is completed by further important projects of EU-Africa climate change and environment cooperation, including the Global Climate Change Alliance, the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel, and the Africa Soil Atlas.

The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)

The objectives of the APRM are primarily to foster the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration through experience sharing and reinforcement of successful and best practices, including identifying deficiencies and assessment of requirements for capacity building.

Since 2009 the European Commission has contributed €2 million to the UNDP-managed Trust Fund to support the APRM Secretariat.

The Nyerere Programme

This initiative aims to contribute to the production and retention of high-level African human resources with Masters and PhD degrees in key areas which are relevant to Africa’s social and economic development; by enhancing academic and student mobility within Africa and contributing to capacity-building.

The African Higher Education Harmonisation and Tuning initiative

Implementing the Plan of Action for the Second Decade of Education for Africa, the AU Commission started to promote quality assurance and developing a framework for harmonization of higher education programmes in Africa. The potential contribution of the "Tuning Educational Structures and Programmes" methodology, an instrument used for harmonizing study programmes and degree profiles in Europe, to support the African Higher Education Harmonization Strategy was recognized by stakeholders on both continents. A pilot initiative involving 60 universities across Africa in five subject areas (education, medicine, agriculture, mechanical and civil engineering) has just been completed. Work is now underway to consolidate and validate the new degree profiles with the relevant authorities and professional associations and to prepare for a full scale initiative which should extend the number of countries, universities and subject areas and will also include a dedicated platform for the ministries of (higher) education in order to support the development of a continental accreditation process within Africa.

AU-EU Human Rights Dialogue

The EU and the African Union have maintained a Human Rights Dialogue since 2008. The latter allows the two institutions to update each other on regional initiatives, to discuss sensitive issues and to identify joint activities in certain areas. The dialogue is backed by a series of meetings in which European and  African experts discuss issues of common concern—such as racism, rights of migrants, freedom of expression or freedom of association—in order to better promote specific human rights at the regional and global level.

The last AU-EU Human Rights Dialogue took place in November 2012, in Addis Ababa, and focused on issues of common concern including racism; the right to development; death penalty; rights of migrants; and the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Dialogue was also forward looking and identified themes to intensity our cooperation namely violence against women and freedom of association.

The Africa-EU High Policy Dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation

Following the Africa-EU Summit conclusions in 2010, a policy dialogue was set up with the view to enhance cooperation in the area of science, technology and innovation. Research and Innovation has been an important pillar of the Joint EU-Africa Strategy. Indeed, today, Africa ranks first among third regions in terms of participation in the EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research. There are around 1000 African participants, in around 400 projects on challenges of common concern such as food security, climate change or renewable energy with an EU contribution of around €140 million. Another example is the €15 million support to the African Union Research Grants Programme, that brings together researchers from all over the continent.

The way forward

Since the adoption of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the EU has mainstreamed the new priorities in its various aid and cooperation instruments.

The Commission proposed to make €1 billion available for a Pan-African Programme (PAP) as part of the Instrument for Development Cooperation. Discussions are on-going in Council and Parliament as part of the negotiations on the EU budget 2014-2020. The PAP will support the implementation of the Strategic Partnership by providing assistance to cross-regional and continental programmes and thus further enable the EU to treat Africa as one.

Under the current financial perspectives 2008-2013, the European Development Fund (€22.7 billion) is the main instrument for cooperation with Sub-Saharan African countries. The European Development Fund supports the cooperation at national, regional and intra-ACP levels. The national and regional programming for Africa for 2008-2013 amounts to €13.9 billion.

Africa is also covered by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) for the Northern African countries, the relevant geographic and thematic part of the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), and by worldwide thematic instruments such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

The next Africa-EU Summit is expected to take place in 2014 in Brussels. Efforts are being made to speed up the implementation of the current Action Plan and to deliver more tangible results for the citizens of both continents.

Why is Africa a development priority for the EU?

A large majority of least developed countries, as identified by the UN, (34 out of 49) are in Africa.

• Three out of every four Africans live in poverty, while there are powerful development opportunities to be seized in Africa.

• Most donors, apart from the EC, support a limited number of better performing states; the EC believes aid should go where it is most needed and therefore also supports the poorest countries and fragile states.

• Even if Africa is expanding its economic relations with other continents, the EU remains Africa's top trading partner; while Africa accounts for 9% of EU27 trade, with France, Italy and Germany accounting for more than half of all EU27 trade with Africa. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso underlined however that the EU remains the globe's top provider of "aid for trade".

• Africa is the continent that suffers the most from the effects of climate change and where energy poverty is highest. Nevertheless, it has enormous potential to spark a "renewable energy revolution" and lift almost 600 million Africans out of energy poverty.

• The current economic recession can have even greater consequences for Africa than it has on Europe. People may not only lose jobs and houses, but may pull their children out of school and have less money for food and health.

• Steady economic growth and improvements in poverty reduction in Africa have a positive impact on progress on the Millennium Development Goals; particularly in increasing access to primary education and decreasing HIV/AIDS prevalence.

African countries and the European Union have concluded a number of agreements that link them together in partnership.

How does the EU make a difference in Africa?


  1. Better access to food for millions of Africans: The EU is the world's largest donor on food security. The EU plays a leading role in tackling hunger and malnutrition and supports the G8 alliance on food and nutrition. Agriculture is one of the priorities that future EU aid will focus on. Since 2006, the Commission has committed €1 billion every year to strengthen food security and agricultural development across the world.

  2. Affordable and more reliable access to water and energy services for millions of Africans: Under the Water Facility, 14.5 million people are expected to gain access to safe water, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa Of these, 3.5 million will also benefit from access to improved sanitation and 10.5 million will receive hygiene education.

  3. The Energy Facility will provide 2.5 million people in Africa with access to electricity from renewable sources (wind, solar, hydro and biomass). It should also enable up to 7 million people to connect to the energy grid.

  4. Increasing the availability and quality of health services in Africa: The EU supports the health related Millennium Development Goals by improving health systems of partner countries. It also supports partnerships which eradicate poverty-related diseases and improve health such as the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunisation and the Global Fund to fight against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The EU has channelled more than €922 million through the Global Fund so far, which has prevented 5.4 million premature deaths through vaccination. This has been complemented by other specific support - totalling €250 million over the last decade.

  5. The European Commission has contributed to immunisation against measles for more than 5 million children. Its support also resulted in more than 10 million consultations on reproductive health and more than 4 million births attended by health personnel since 2004. In the future, the EU will dedicate at least 20% of its aid to human development (including health).

  6. Preferential or free access to the EU for African goods under a number of agreements concluded in partnership (Cotonou Agreement/Economic Partnership Agreements, Generalised System of Preferences/Everything But Arms, bilateral agreements with North African countries).

  7. The European Commission is spending an average of €500 million a year on humanitarian assistance to the millions of Africans affected by disasters, conflicts and protracted emergencies. Furthermore, it is focusing on strengthening the resilience of the most vulnerable populations to the future crises, thus saving lives and contributing to poverty reduction.

EU Funding and donor ranking

Under the 10th European Development Fund (2008–2013) the EU has already committed approximately €12 billion for African countries.

The EU remains the most important donor for Africa. African countries received close to €24 billion of Official Development Aid (ODA) from the EU for the period 2007–2012. Other top donors to Africa are the USA and the World Bank.

Europeans place a particularly high priority on Africa within their development agenda as demonstrated by the share of aid to Africa as part of their total aid budget. The top 10 donors by share of aid to Africa include only European countries, topped by Ireland (with 81% of its total aid to Africa) and followed by Belgium (77%), Portugal (73%) and France (63%).

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