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Europe’s future in the current geopolitical context highly depends on the trajectory of developments on the African continent. For many reasons, historical but also economic and given sustainable development goals, Europe has to play a pivotal role in the development of Africa. It is welcomed that the new European Commission had made this a priority, and it should be one of equal political importance to initiatives such as the Green Deal.


In an innovative and comprehensive relationship with the African continent, a mutual win can emerge. Moreover, it can be a role model for multilateral cooperation for the 21st century, for managing interdependence. This should be an overarching EU policy objective. But this requires a radical game change in Europe’s policies with Africa, moving away from a development aid approach towards the framework conditions for investment and trade, taking into account the role of global value chains, research & innovation, and of capacity acceleration in a digitalised economy. Only these will bring lasting sustainable growth and employment for African people. It will also help to cope with the consequences of climate change and deal with emerging public health crises.


To help foster this approach, the High Level Group Africa Europe Partnership has been created (as a spin-off of the High Level Group on Trade Policy Innovation and the positive reception of its recommendations), pursuing a deep independent look at the current state of relations, including for example a questionable performance of decades of aid policies, but also identifying opportunities to boost trade, investment, research, and innovations, to offer recommendations on the future framework of an equal relationship between Europe and Africa. Indeed, a simple continuation of existing pathways, such as the Cotonou Agreements or the European Partnership Agreements, without radical change and adaptation to new contextual conditions, is no longer an option. Instead, a new approach is needed to reach mutually beneficial results for both Europe and Africa in a challenging global context.

This HLG is chaired by Mamphela Ramphele, former managing director at the World Bank, co-chair of the Club of Rome.

Previous chair: John Bruton, former Prime Minister of Ireland and former EU Ambassador to the USA.

In the High Level Group on the Africa-Europe Partnership, the outline of a roadmap towards such a fair and equitable partnership has been discussed. But it is generally believed that the technocratic approach is not enough, there needs to be a joint new narrative about their past interactions.

Why this is needed

The time is ripe to finally put away with the old colonial narratives and to propose a new one, based on the
actual realities of economic, cultural and political interchanges between the two continents.

Unequal relations and the development concept

In the Treaty of Rome (1957), setting up the EEC, the precursor of the EU, the colonial view dominant at the time is clearly present.

The importance of a fact based narrative

Leading philosophers, such as Avishai Margalit (the founder of Peace Now) and others, have often remarked that a shared memory has the power to link different societies.


The project aims to develop a new, fact based narrative, which can be used by both African and Europeans as the intellectual underpinning of the future Partnership.

It will be co-chaired by prof. Achille Mbembe , WITS University, Johannesburg,

and Prof. Stefan Schepers, secretary general of the High Level Groups and director of AECIT, Johannesburg, supported by a steering team of experts from all over Africa and from Europe.

Oladiran Oladosu, research assistant.





The following people, from the European and national public sector, from corporations and from academia, gave their time and expertise to the work on Africa Europe partnership:

Download: HLG Africa Europe Partnership Members List

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