Europe takes Africa more seriously – Juncker’s State of the Union speech

Europe takes Africa more seriously. That is a positive outcome of the migration crisis.

European Commission President Jean­ Claude Juncker on the occasion of his State of the Union speech  on September 12, 2018:

To speak of the future, one must speak of Africa – Europe’s twin continent. Africa is the future: By 2050, Africa’s population will number 2.5 billion. One in four people on earth will be African.

We need to invest more in our relationship with the nations of this great and noble continent. And we have to stop seeing this relationship through the sole prism of development aid. Such an approach is beyond inadequate, humiliatingly so.

Africa does not need charity, it needs true and fair partnerships. And Europe needs this partnership just as much.

How true!

A new thinking …

… has made it to the top of the European Commission. A thinking…

…that our two continents are inextricably bound together, ever more in an interconnected global society, and

…that continuous development aid is humiliating for recipients and making them ever more depended.

How has this paradigm shift been possible?

Look, how Juncker continued in his State of the Union speech:

I spoke to … Paul Kagame, the Chairperson of the African Union. We agreed that donor-recipient relations are a thing of the past. We agreed that reciprocal commitments are the way forward. We want to build a new partnership with Africa.”

Obviously, European politicians are actively listening to their African counterparts. This has not always been the case.

And – “reciprocal commitments”.

Europe has again an interest in Africa

You can only enter serious reciprocal commitments when both sides have own interests and show them to the other party. (That is what serious negotiations are all about.)

For the last decades, official relationships were based on development aid. Aid programs always pretend not to have own interests. In an aid program, Europeans want to work solely for the “development” of the other side, the African country. Which of course is impossible in this pure sense and therefore has opened doors to all forms of inefficiencies. (See chapter 4 of my book about development aid as an auto-referential system: “Der schwarze Tiger – Was wir von Afrika lernen können“)

But we didn’t really care, because Africa was simply not important enough for Europe.

Then, in 2015 everything changed. Several hundred thousand people marched into Europe. We have got a feeling what the interlinked global society means for 700 million Europeans in a future of 10 billion connected people.

Since then, we have a new-born interest in Africa. We really want something from our African friends. We want them to take back their compatriots, to control their borders, to hold back emigration, to come to terms with their diasporas, to get their economies in order, to do business with European companies  – generally, we want to get into agreements on how we can live together in this new world.

Europe is – again – arriving in Africa.

That is good news.

For Europe. For African countries.

And for the interconnected global society we have to shape together.

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