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Tuesday, 08 December 2015

Can the EU challenge China’s proactive role in Africa?

When Chinese premier Xi Jinping unveiled some US$60 billion in deals at the recent China-Africa summit he underscored just how robust Beijing’s relationship with the continent has become. The impression from the media is that China is becoming the main external actor in Africa, and may even now be dominant. However, the European Union still has powerful cards left to play. The EU’s role in Africa is not marginal. Its role has implications for the economic, political and the social fabric of African countries and institutions. The relationship is, of course, old and steeped in Europe’s prior colonisation of the continent, but it has also evolved in ways that tell an interesting story, on the one hand about the integration of postwar Europe and on the other its relationship with those former colonies.At the creation of what is now the EU, a relationship with Africa was part of the plan and articulated in the founding treaty. The signatories committed themselves to “fostering trade and promoting jointly economic and social development”. For the better part of five decades, this relationship between Europe and Africa has been mostly economic. It has been institutionalised through a series of framework deals, the latest being the Cotonou Agreement which runs until 2020.

Source: The Conversation