The EU - Africa Relationship

Development Strategies and Policies of the EU for Africa

Seminar Paper 2009 15 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Topic: Development Politics



1. Introduction

2. The Legal Foundation and Principles of the EU Development Policy

3. Influencing Factors on the changing EU-Africa Relationship

4. The Development of the European Development Policy
4.1 The early beginnings: from Rome to Yaoundé
4.2 The Lomé Conventions
4.3 The treaty of Cotonou

5. The actual EU-African Relationship
5.1 Content of the Actual Partnership
5.2 Evaluation of the Strategy

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography
7.1 Monographs and articles from journals and collections
7.2 Online Publications

1. Introduction

In the sense of most people poverty, underdevelopment and worse living conditions are directly connected to the continent of Africa and the people living there. Furthermore Africa has been exploited by other nations and distressed by internal military and non-military conflicts. This is why most nations all over the world have identified the need of help, although it is sometimes done for their own purpose. This paper will focus on the EU development strategy and policy for the African continent. First of all I will explain the legal foundation and principles of the Union’s Africa strategy. Secondly I’ll try to identify the most important impacts on the changing relationship between Africa and the EU since the 1950s. This will be followed by a detailed insight into the history of common European Development Policy from the times of the EEC to the Treaty of Cotonou. After that I want to focus on the actual relationship, especially the Lisbon Declaration and the joint strategy for Africa. Last but not least there will be a short evaluation if this strategy is or even could be successful. In the end I will sum up my results and connect them to my own opinion.

2. The Legal Foundation and Principles of the EU Development Policy

The development policy of the EU goes back to its very beginnings and is fixed in the former “Treaty of Rome” and also in the “EU Treaty”. Due to the articles 131 to 135 of the Treaty of Rome it is possible to draw treaties of association with other non-European countries.[1] These articles were especially aimed at the colonies of the members of the European Economic Community (EEC). The “Treaty of Establishing the European Union” of 1993 for the first time described the “Development Cooperation” as an own political field of the EU and defines five main goals of the European Development Policy. The member states shall foster a sustainable economic and social development of the developing countries, the smooth and gradual integration of them into the world economy, and the campaign against poverty. Furthermore, the goal is to develop and consolidate democracy and the rule of law as well as the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.[2]

After having defined this overall legal foundation of the European Development Policy it is now possible to identify three main principles how to implement it. The first one is the principle of subsidiarity. This means that the development policy of the EU as a supranational organisation is not replacing the national development policy of its member states. But the EU policy has a supplementary function and will step in if a better solution could be reached on the supranational level. The second principle is the principle of coherence, which means that national and EU politics have to be coordinated. Last but not least there is the principle of regionalisation. Due to this there should be different policies for different regions and not a general one.[3] Since the Consensus of the European Council of Ministers of 2005 the EU is also committed to the so-called Millennium Goals for Africa, which were set up by the United Nations. All in all we can see that development policy, especially for Africa, has developed to a substantial part of European law.

3. Influencing Factors on the changing EU-Africa Relationship

The EU-Africa relationship stems back to the very beginnings of the European Community, but it has changed over time. In the following I will try to give a broad insight to the most important impacts and reasons for the changing relationship.

The changing character of the development policy is due to many reasons, like changes in the geo-political climate, the emergence of independence movements on the African continent, and advances in European integration.[4] First of all has to be mentioned that the time we are talking about is characterized by the process of decolonization. Due to this ongoing process the African states are gaining more and more independence from their former colonial powers. Therefore the Development Strategy was more and more changing from a one-sided and imposed one to a two-sided bargaining process. Nevertheless the bargaining power of the African countries is still questionable, because of their remaining backwardness and their dependence on European Development Aid and European markets. Very important to know is that development policy is in the eye of most politicians closely linked to security policy. The former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan described it like this: “We will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development, and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights.”[5] Consequently changes in development policies are often linked to changes in security affairs. For example the Cold War had serious consequences for Africa, as it directly fuelled some conflicts during the 1970s and 1980s like in Mozambique or Angola. Due to this up and down of Africa’s strategic importance the focus and extend of European Development Policy was also varying. Furthermore Africa was sometimes seen like a competition between the superpowers and became often a cue ball of political interests. According to these difficulties the international policy towards African countries has often changed because of changing security interests.[6]

Furthermore, economic interests have always played a role in African affairs. On the one hand every country wants to have an advantage in trade or in the access to the African resources as a balance for their development efforts. On the other hand the economic situation on the home markets of the donor countries has always been influencing their efforts in Development Aid.

Another important argument why the EU strategy has changed over time is that the EU as a whole has changed from an only economic partnership of six states in 1957 to a political, social and economic Union of 25 states in 2009. The competencies of the EU foreign affairs policy have been widened during the years.[7]

Last but not least also Africa has been changing a lot. Stability on the continent is improving, the number of conflict has been reducing and African countries are more and more trying to take a comprehensive approach to face the continent’s collective problems. Organisations like the African Union (AU) or the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAP) have developed.[8]

All this economic, security and political impacts had a significant influence on the relationship between the EU and Africa. The next part will give a detailed insight into the historical development of this relationship.


[1] Treaty of Rome. URL: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/treaties/dat/11957E/tif/TRAITES_1957_CEE_1_EN_0001.tif [13 November 2009]

[2] Treaty on Establishing the European Community. URL: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2006:321E:0001:0331:EN:pdf [13 November 2009]

[3] Meyer zu Natrup, Friedhelm B.. „Die EU-Entwicklungspolitik“, Universität Rostock. 2005. URL: www.wiwi.uni-rostock.de/.../IPV/.../EU-Entwicklungspolitik.doc [11 November 2009]

[4] Kotsopoulos, John. “The EU and Africa: coming together at last?”. European Policy Centre. 2007. URL: http://www.fes.de/cotonou/downloads/ngo/OTHER_BACKGROUND_TEC HNICAL_COOPERATION/EPC_EU_AFRICA_26JULY2007.PDF [8 November 2009]

[5] Kofi Annan (former UN-Secretary-General) URL: http://www.unfpa.org/rights/quotes.htm

[6] Kotsopoulos, John. “The EU and Africa: coming together at last?”

[7] Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung. „Die Entwicklungspolitik der Europäischen Union (EU)“ URL: http://www.bmz.de/de/service/infothek/fach/konzepte/Konzepte144.pdf [8 November 2009]

[8] Kotsopoulos, John. “The EU and Africa: coming together at last?”


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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444 KB
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Institution / College
University of Economics, Prague – Faculty of International Relations
EU Africa Relationship Development Strategies and Policies of the EU for Africa Development Policy Development Development Strategy Africa in International Relations International Relations EU Development Policy



Title: The EU - Africa Relationship