The African and European continental bodies are vowing to push for closer institutional ties as common crises abound.
Speaking on Tuesday, January 22, at the first AU-EU ministerial summit in Brussels, Frederica Mogherini, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, said that Europe needs to bolster cooperation with Africa.
“Africa and Europe are closer than ever in today’s complex world,” Mogherini at a press conference after the Brussels meeting. She added, “We all want a stronger and more prosperous Africa with more quality jobs for the youth, more inclusive societies, and peace and security for all.”
The sentiment echoed trendy rhetoric in policy circles in the European Union.
As EU member states have failed to reach an agreement on the proposed common migration policy that spells out the migrant quota burden for each country, individual states and EU officials have multiplied Euro-African-themed statements in recent months.
The recurring rhetoric includes calls for greater cooperation between the two continents to face “common security and strategic challenges.”
Further echoing that spirit, Mogherini explained that the realities of our “complex times” compel “tighter ties between continents and countries.”
The EU, she elaborated, is poised to review her policies and priorities to facilitate institutional cooperation with the AU. “The EU wants Africa to prosper for the good of its own people, but also because a strong Africa is a good thing for Europe.”
Mogherini’s suggestion that achieving socio-economic sustainability and job security will considerably discourage the flow of irregular migration to Europe has been a major point of order in policy circles. Some EU officials, Angela Merkel, even raised the idea of a prospective “Marshall Plan for Africa.”
The hope is to engage with Africa on a more sincere and egalitarian basis, integrating trade and human dimensions in Euro-African relations.
Meanwhile, while the EU seeks to revise its policy toward Africa, the body’s member states have been engaged in a war of words over migration. Most recently, Italy took jibes at France’s “colonial” presence in Africa for escalating Europe’s migration problems.
“If we have people who are leaving Africa now it’s because some European countries, and France in particular, have never stopped colonizing Africa,” Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said.