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Thursday, 30 March 2017

Will Relationship Between Europe and Africa Stand the Test of Time?

The signing of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community (EEC) 60 years ago in March 1957, came at a tumultuous time in relations between Europe and Africa. Just weeks earlier Kwame Nkrumah had declared Ghana a republic, an event which was a turning point in the decolonisation of sub-Saharan Africa. Nkrumah remarked that the treaty's inclusion of colonial territories was to neocolonialism what the Berlin Treaty of 1885 had been to colonialism. He had a point. Two of the six founding members of the EEC - Belgium and France - still held substantial colonial interests on the continent. Accession to the community thus posed the crucial question of what to do about them. The question became contentious enough to threaten the collapse of the entire Treaty of Rome negotiation process. The other four members of the EEC were Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. France in particular was steadfast that its colonies be "associated" with the community. Paris envisaged that its preferential colonial terms of trade would be extended to the entire EEC. But Germany and the Netherlands were opposed, wary of being forced to share the financial and political responsibilities that came with trading with former colonies. The French argument ultimately won, albeit with some compromises. The treaty's association agreement would last five years and the preferences France enjoyed from its colonies would be gradually expanded to the rest of the EEC. The agreement, inscribed into articles 131-136 of the treaty, served as the originator of Europe's subsequent relationship with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). This was codified in the Yaoundé Agreements, the Lomé Convention and today's Cotonou Agreement.

Source: AllAfrica