The African Union Commission (AUC) and the European Commission are holding their sixth "college to college" meeting on 25 and 26 April in Addis Ababa, co-chaired by Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, president of the AUC, and Mr. José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission. The meeting is taking place during a symbolic year that sees the new AU Commission take up its functions and the 50th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). It will give the starting signal for preparations for the fourth EU-Africa Summit scheduled for April 2014 in Brussels.
The regular working meetings of the two Commissions - previously held in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011, alternatively in Brussels and Addis Ababa - are the occasion to discuss questions linked to partnership and the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES). The EU remains Africa's principal trading partner even if the latter is now extending its economic relations with other continents. It is also the world's number one donor of official development aid for the African continent. Since African and EU heads of state and government adopted the joint strategy and its eight thematic partnerships, at the 2007 Lisbon Summit, these relations have taken on a new dynamic, going beyond the field of development to attain a political dimension founded on shared values, interests and strategic objectives.
The Joint Africa-EU Strategy has achieved some major successes. Examples include the Partnership for Peace and Security whose operational instrument, the Peace Facility, contributes to "finding African solutions to African problems", as demonstrated by peacekeeping missions carried out by the AU and African regional organisations in Somalia (AMISON), in the Central African Republic (MICOPAX) and more recently in Mali (AFISMA). The Strategic Partnership for infrastructures and its Fiduciary Fund is another example of a success.
The meeting on 25 and 26 April will be devoted essentially to preparing the next summit and its agenda. While the partnership has made encouraging progress, many challenges remain. One objective of the 2014 summit will be to make the joint strategy more effective by rendering it more operational and centered on the broad political guidelines. European and African Commissioners are already getting to grips with this. Subjects such as peace and security, trade, raw materials, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, climate change, agriculture and food security, and human development are all at the top on the agenda for the discussions, as well as African regional integration. The global framework of development following the Millennium Goals deadline and post-2015 strategy are also on the agenda.
According to a European source, the European Commission is also to propose for the 2014 Summit the central theme of economic opportunities for Africa, an emerging continent that today has 5% annual growth south of the Sahara.
The programme includes bilateral meetings, a plenary session and sectoral working meetings between AU and EU Commissioners. President Barroso will be accompanied by six Commissioners: Andris Piebalgs (Development), Karel De Gucht (Trade), Kristalina Georgieva (International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response), Connie Hedegaard (Climate Action), Dacian Cioloş (Agriculture and Rural Development) and Algirdas Šemeta (Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud).
African regional economic organisations, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) will also be present during these two days.
(*) Peace and Security; Democratic Governance and Human Rights; Trade; Regional Integration and Infrastructures; Millennium Development Goals; Energy; Climate Change; Migration, Mobility and Employment; Science, Information Society and Space.