Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Africa-EU — a misunderstandings’ summit

As the EU-Africa summit opens today in Brussels, Le Soir long time Africa correspondent Colette Braekman writes that African countries have turned their attention to BRIC -Brazil, Russia, India, China) emerging countries rather than the ailing EU ones. And they still accuse Europe of having imperialistic views on Africa, as well as a fortress-like behavior:
While Europe struggles with the economic crisis, and implements a socially lethal austerity, Africa waves growth figures often over 5 per cent, though wealth is unevenly distributed and still relying too much on natural resources exports. […] Visited not only by China, but also by other emerging countries (Brasil, South Korea, Turkey,…), Africa feels more confident: while Europeans are still offering "fight against poverty" programmes, the continent thinks about all the aspects of economic development and relies on its local organisations, abolishing trade barriers and promoting freedom of movement. […] At Nelson Mandela's funeral, Europeans were even not invited to talk. The economic partnership agreements aiming at opening African borders to European goods (not exactly a fair trade model), have been discretely taken off the discussions' menu in Brussels, which will content itself with partial agreements with West African countries, though they have been denounced by the civil society. […]
Even if, with €20 billion a year, Europe is still the main development and humanitarian aid provider and presents itself as an altruistic power, Europe is perceived as dominant and caring only about imposing its rules, its programmes and its bureaucracy than asking itself how it defends its own geopolitical and economic interests, particularly when it comes to oil and mining ressources. Even though emigration has transformed most of European capitals in multicultural and African cities, the restriction imposed to emigration, the difficulties to obtain visas and study grants are reinforcing the image of Europe being a fortress, less welcoming than China or India, in the eyes of Africans.

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