The international context and EU-Africa relations are constantly evolving, presenting new challenges and opportunities. Since the historic first Africa-EU Summit in Cairo in 2000, where the Africa-EU partnership framework was established, considerable change has taken place on both continents, which challenge the way Africa and Europe perceive each other.
The Africa-EU Partnership is adapting to these changing realities through constant formal dialogue between African and European counterparts at different levels:
- EU-Africa Summits of Heads of States and Governments take place every three years alternatively in Africa and Europe. These Summits take stock of the progress made in the implementation of commitments made and provide political guidance for further work.
The fourth and most recent EU-Africa Summit took place in Brussels on 2-3 April 2014 to discuss the future relationship between the EU and Africa relations and to foster the cooperation under the theme of 'Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace'. Topics included education and training, women and youth, legal and illegal migrant flows between both continents, ways to stimulate growth and create jobs, investing in peace and ways to enhance EU support for African capacities to manage security on the continent.
The 5th EU-Africa Summit is scheduled to take place in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on 28-29 November 2017:
The central theme for the Summit will be 'Youth', which has become a key priority for Europe as well as Africa, in a context of African demographic trends creating major challenges for young people in terms of migration, security and employment.
On 4 May 2017, the European Commission and the EEAS issued a Joint Communication that sets out the vision and strategic interests of the EU in a reinforced partnership with Africa:
'2017 is a defining year for the partnership between Europe and Africa. In a rapidly changing global landscape, Africa is experiencing profound economic, political and societal changes, and its importance to the internal and external dimensions of Europe's security and prosperity is becoming ever more obvious. Europe and Africa have much to gain from increased political and economic ties, but also a lot to lose if they fail to act.'
As the summit preparations take place during the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, they are also explicitly mentioned in the respective programme:
'The Maltese Presidency values the importance of the EU’s strategic partnership with Africa. In this context, the Maltese Presidency will support preparations for the 5th EU-Africa Summit which will take place in November 2017 in Abidjan, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. The Summit will present an excellent opportunity to further strengthen our partnership to address common challenges and opportunities. It will serve to build upon the continuing dialogue on peace and security, development, creating a better future for Africa’s youth, migration and the fight against terrorism.'
- Ministerial meetings take place on an ad hoc basis to monitor the progress achieved between Summits. The last meeting took place at the margins of the EU-Africa Summit in April 2014 on climate change.
- College-to-College meetings between the European Commission and the African Union Commission take place on an annual basis alternatively in Brussels and Addis Ababa to provide political and operational impetus to Africa-EU relations. The last meeting took place in Addis Ababa 2016.
- The Joint Annual Forum (formerly 'Joint Task Force' meetings) covering all areas of cooperation within the framework of the Joint Strategy, gather sectoral experts from member states, institutions, civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders once a year to assess progress made with regard to the implementation of the JAES.
- Regular High Level dialogues and expert level meetings ensure the implementation of the Road Map, such as the reference group on Infrastructure, or the EU-Africa High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) expert group on science, technology and innovation.