Relations between Europe and Africa are essential for jointly addressing global future challenges. Germany and France have a crucial role to play in European-African relations. At the same time, the Russian war of aggression with its global implications for food security and multilateral cooperation also affects the relations between Europe and Africa.
Against the backdrop of global power shifts, the aim of the conference was to discuss Franco-German cooperation, perspectives, and initiatives on and with the African continent. The exchange, which took place from 30 November to 1 December in Berlin, is part of an annual series of events organised by the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), the Institut français des relations internationales (Ifri) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. Since 2014, the three institutions have been working closely together and facilitating a dialogue involving political and diplomatic decision-makers as well as experts, academics, and non-state actors from both countries and both continents.
Among those invited stakeholders to this year’s meeting were members of the German Bundestag Dr Nils Schmid and Dr Karamba Diaby as well as MEP Joachim Schuster, high-ranking representatives of the BMZ and the Federal Foreign Office as well as the Ambassador of the Republic of Senegal in Germany, H.E. Cheick Tidiane Sall. In addition to representatives of ifri, a high-ranking delegation of members of the Defence Committee of the Assemblée nationale, led by MP Thomas Gassiloud, joined the conference. Dr. Julian Bergmann, Dr Benedikt Erforth and PD Dr Stephan Klingebiel represented IDOS at the event.
The discussions focused on prospects for future European engagement in the Sahel and the increasing political fragility in the region, which require close consultation and cooperation between Germany and France even after the French withdrawal from Mali. Some participants made clear that a political reflection on the German and French engagement since 2012 is necessary, also to jointly provide impulses for a new European Sahel strategy.
Additionally, the discussion focused on possible new paths for the partnership between Europe and Africa against the backdrop of a newly emerging world order. In this context, the need for concrete Franco-German initiatives was emphasised to take the interests of African partners more strongly into account and to uphold the rules-based international order together with Africa. Some participants called for concrete, timely implementation steps and greater transparency in communication, particularly regarding the EU’s Global Gateway Initiative and the associated infrastructure investments.