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Friday, 13 July 2018

Africa-Europe relations: Toward a new narrative ?

The absolute hero of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde and a leading historical Pan-African figure, Amílcar Cabral, was named by his father after the Carthaginian General Hamilcar Barca, the one that in 241 B.C. conquered Sicily before occupying most of Iberia. He was born in what is a today’s Libya and was one of the most-admired leaders of that state that sat in what is today’s Tunisia. This serves as a just a quick reminder of the deep historical connections that exist between two continents that were to live, throughout history, moments of intrinsic relations that went from trade to slave trade, from collaboration to colonial domination, from independence to exploitation. We now all want partnership. The same way our relations cannot be reduced to the Lomé or Cotonou Agreements, our deep-rooted rapport with the various regions cannot be reduced to the tight terms of the ACP configuration. Political, cultural, and historical arguments can easily demonstrate the incongruence of lumping together these three groups, except if one refers to the EU institutional preferences, to which all of us have adjusted to. For the “A” in the ACP does not refer to the whole of Africa, the same way the “C” does not include all the Caribbean, or even less the “P” refers to the known Pacific states. The three regions in the ACP are lumped together because of the development aid typology. The same way some African countries are lumped together with a Bangladesh within the LDC typology or others are lumped with Kazakhstan as part of the land-locked states, and so on. This anomaly has long been detected by the European Union. It was addressed along the way with a proliferation of institutional arrangements that have surpassed the ACP Cotonou Agreement. As far as Africa is concerned, the various arrangements surpass the ACP framework literally left, right and center.