Building capacity to help Africa trade better

EU and African Union Commissions step up their cooperation to support young people, jobs and peace


EU and African Union Commissions step up their cooperation to support young people, jobs and peace

EU and African Union Commissions step up their cooperation to support young people, jobs and peace
Photo credit: Moussa Faki Mahamat | European Commission

African Union and EU Commissioners on 23 May 2018 adopted concrete measures to address pressing global issues in key areas such as peace and security, migration, job creation and agriculture.

This 9th Commission to Commission meeting of the two organisations was co-chaired by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, with the participation of all African Union Commissioners and 16 European Union Commissioners.

The two sides had agreed on a set of priorities at the November 2017 AU-EU Summit in Abidjan and yesterday the two Commissions took stock of progress made to chart the way forward.

At this occasion, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “We met today to translate words into concrete action. We launched programmes worth €400 million to support, amongst others, African youth – which is all the more important, as 60% of Africa’s population is under 25 years old. The future of the world depends on the good cooperation between Europe and Africa.”

African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat added: “Multilateralism is the only response to today’s global challenges in an increasingly polarised world. The AU-EU partnership is based on shared values and shared responsibilities and offers a unique platform to address common challenges linked to peace, security and sustainable development on both our continents.”

Key outcomes of the meeting

The two commissions discussed their cooperation to enhance resilience, peace, security and governance, including support to African peace initiatives such as the G5 Sahel joint force. In this regard, the two sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding reinforcing the existing cooperation in the area of peace and security. In addition, they agreed to continue and consolidate the important work made by the AU-EU-UN task force on migration.

The parties committed to invest in economies and people by stepping up existing cooperation on agriculture and agribusinesses and the digital economy, and dedicated themselves to continue the active engagement with youth in the Africa-EU partnership in innovative and meaningful ways.

In the context of the AU-EU partnership, the EU made available an additional €400 million towards continental and regional projects. These include support to institutional capacity building of the African Union Commission and regional integration on the continent, as well as support to young people. The assistance will facilitate the continental mobility of young people, for example through reinforcing exchange programmes among African universities, and enhancing the recognition of qualifications and the harmonisation of higher education in Africa.


The EU and Africa have progressively built a solid strategic and political partnership, whereby they go beyond donor-recipient relations towards reciprocal commitments. The two Commissions of the European Union and African Union are committed to be active players and real engines of this Partnership, which is today more relevant than ever in a fast evolving global environment.

This partnership is based on shared values and interests, enshrined in the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES, 2007). At the 5th AU-EU Summit last November African and European leaders have demonstrated their mutual commitment in a stronger relationship adapted to a rapidly changing global landscape, and have identified strategic priorities for 2018-2020.

Fact Sheet

€400 million to support continental and interregional development in Africa

In support of the Africa-EU Partnership, the EU has launched the second phase of the Pan-African Programme for an amount of €400 million (2018-2020). Projects at continental or interregional level in Africa will focus on three main strategic areas:

  1. It will boost the AU-EU political dialogue in areas of joint interest, including migration, and advocate for an effective system of good governance at pan-African level. For instance, initiatives will support the work of the AU institutions in the fields of human rights, election observation and on combatting corruption.

  2. Special focus will be given to enhancing young people’s employability and mobility, and promoting technological innovation. The funding will for example reinforce exchange programmes among African universities based on the Erasmus experience and support the recognition of qualifications and the harmonisation of higher education in Africa, inspired by the EU’s Bologna Process.

  3. Supporting African continental economic integration, the programme will facilitate trade and investments and the development of inter-regional infrastructure. For instance, it will support the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area through programmes focusing on lowering technical barriers to trade and harmonising African policies, standards and regulations, including in the digital and air transport markets.

The Pan-African Programme is the first ever EU programme in development and cooperation that covers Africa as a whole. It was adopted in 2014 for a total budget of €845 million, as a dedicated financial instrument to support the Africa-EU Partnership. The first phase of the programme 2014-2017 helped to progress on the operationalisation of the AU Human Rights system.

Moreover, it played a significant role in promoting migration dialogue and in supporting the AU Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa. Through its second phase, the Pan-African Programme will continue its support to these and new projects with an added value for both the African and European continent.

The Memorandum of Understanding on peace and security

In light of today’s increasingly complex threats and the need to address their root causes, Africa and the EU have a joint interest to strengthen their partnership on peace and security, and to enhance strategic cooperation on global challenges. The European Union and the African Union Commission agree on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which will become the main tool dealing with peace and security challenges and their response strategies. This will bring the EU-AU dialogue to a more structured level.

The MoU covers a wide number of areas in peace, security and governance, including tackling root causes, crisis management, mediation, cross border security, conflict resolution and support in electoral matters. The MoU establishes a specific Counterterrorism Dialogue and provides for twice yearly consultations at Senior Official level to ensure planning and implementation of the provisions in the MoU.

The EU continues to be the first supporter of the African Union and regional economic communities to pursue the objective of ‘African solutions to African problems’, especially in the peace and security area. More than €2.7 billion has been committed to the African Peace Facility since 2003, thereby allowing for the development of the African Peace and Security Architecture and its further contribution towards the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.

The Taskforce Rural Africa

The European Commission will set up a Task Force of experts on rural Africa to provide expertise, advice and possible recommendations to the African Union Commission partners in relation to agriculture, agri-business and agro-industries. Food and farming have a prominent role to play in strengthening the partnership with the African Union. Unleashing the potential of the sector can contribute to economic growth and generate decent employment opportunities for Africa’s increasing young population.

The institutions of the EU and AU indeed have been engaging in regular policy dialogue in this sector. The EU-AU Agriculture Ministerial Conference “Making Sustainable Agriculture a future for youth in Africa” of 2017 being a good example of stronger cooperation.

The joint EU-AU task force on digital economy

To deepen the AU-EU cooperation in the field of digital economy, the two Commissions will set up a joint task force. It will be comprised by African and European decision-makers, entrepreneurs and civil society representatives that will steer the future work on this subject.

Strategic orientations and priorities for the continental dialogue on migration

The European Commission and African Union Commission agree on strategic orientations and priorities for a continental dialogue on migration and mobility, complementary to other existing frameworks such as the Rabat and Khartoum Processes and the Joint Valetta Action Plan. The dialogue will provide a platform which will address and respond to continental issues pertaining to migration and mobility between the EU and Africa, including their root causes.


Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel +27 21 880 2010