Cooperation between Germany and France is central to reshaping EU-Africa relations. At a tripartite conference in Paris, guests from Germany, France and African countries discussed the potential for joint European offers to the neighbouring continent.
Relations between Europe and Africa are of particular importance for the joint handling of the global transformations of the future. Only through close cooperation and partnership will it be possible to jointly tackle challenges such as the climate crisis, rapid urbanisation, digitalisation and the ending of violent conflicts. Germany and France have a central role to play in shaping European-African relations.
A lively debate after the elections in Germany and before the elections in France
There is currently ample reason to discuss the priorities of German and French Africa policy, possibilities for cooperation and ideas for joint European offers towards Africa. The new German government took office in December 2021 and is already responsible for the G7 Presidency next year. Meanwhile, the French government will take over the EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2022 and the planned summit between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) is scheduled to take place in February 2022. At the same time, the presidential elections in France are coming up in April 2022.
The setting for a timely exchange on these issues was provided by a high-level experts round from 2 to 3 December 2021 – jointly organised by the Institut français des relations internationales (Ifri), the Friedich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE). Since 2014, the three institutions have been working together in a triangular cooperation and facilitating a dialogue in which political and diplomatic decision-makers as well as experts, academics and non-state actors from both continents participate.
Consequences of the climate crisis long felt in Africa
This year’s meeting took place in Paris under particularly strict COVID-19 sanitary conditions. In addition to DIE and FES representatives, representatives of the German Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, as well as the foreign policy spokesperson of the SPD parliamentary group, Dr. Nils Schmid (MdB), travelled from Germany. In Paris, the delegation met with representatives of the French government, EU institutions and the AU as well as experts from various think tanks.
The discussions focused on the fragile situation in the Sahel and the fragmentation and expansion of the ongoing conflicts, which continue to require close consultation and cooperation between France and Germany. Various participants made it clear that in Mali in particular, in addition to the fight against terrorism, the initiation of dialogue in the sense of a political solution and the strengthening of statehood must play an increasingly important role. There was also discussion about future economic cooperation between Europe and Africa and the demand of some panellists that Germany and France should actively advocate for a European climate foreign policy that considers Africa’s needs. Unlike in other parts of the world, the direct consequences of the climate crisis are already being felt in many parts of the African continent.