3 September 2021, Addis Ababa/Brussels/Maastricht/Pretoria -- The COVID-19 health crisis and its devastating socioeconomic impact calls for stronger multilateralism and increased efforts to deepen cooperation. More than ever, international action and solidarity are needed to address the human, health, economic and political repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Against this background, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the European Think Tanks Group (ETTG) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) have joined forces to establish a forward-looking partnership aimed at advancing Africa-Europe relations and the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.
Studies predict that the divide in access to vaccines between wealthy countries and low-income countries could impact economic growth until 2024. Diverse voices and perspectives are therefore increasingly needed to address issues of common interest and define practical and operational recommendations on the way forward.
The AU and EU have positioned themselves as global players in multilateral, global and SDG policy agendas. However, while the pandemic has created new opportunities around economic growth and digital transformation, the risks of new inequalities are evident, and will require urgent solutions.
In a joint statement, the three organizations said “Increased multilateralism can chart a path out of the pandemic. This partnership aims to identify areas of convergence and continued partnership, formulate concrete recommendations for an effective and impact-driven partnership of both continents, and collect a body of evidence building on innovative African and European approaches in the key priority areas of the partnership.”
Despite the political and governance challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, both continents have demonstrated a strong and clearly stated interest in accelerating global climate ambitions and in the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to increase intra-African trade and enhanced trade relations with the EU.
The decision to postpone the 6th African Union-European Union (AU-EU) summit to 2022 offers an opportunity for deeper reflection on the critical challenges in the AU-EU partnership. The joint initiative will convene key experts from both the AU and EU and their member states, UNDP and other multilateral agencies, leading African and European think tanks, thought leaders, influencers and “change-makers”, in several engagements in 2021 and 2022.
The group will organize three virtual expert roundtables based on the key pillars of the AU-EU partnership, namely: i) green transformation and climate change; ii) economic development, trade and the digital agenda; and iii) participatory and accountable governance, peace and security. The series will conclude with a high-level seminar in 2022 ahead of the next EU-AU Summit.
Michelle Mendi Muita, UNDP Regional Programme Communications Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vera Mazzara, ETTG Coordinator, email@example.com.
Ottilia Anna Maunganidze, Head of Special Projects, ISS, firstname.lastname@example.org.