Conference Agenda

Panel 401: Regional and Institutional Diplomacies in Africa-EU Relations
Tuesday, 07/Sept/2021:
9:30am - 11:00am

Session Chair: Jan Orbie, Political Science


Regional and Institutional Diplomacies in Africa-EU Relations

Chair(s): Jan Orbie (Ghent University)

The Africa-EU relationship is entering an important new phase of development co-operation with the conclusion of the post-Cotonou agreement due in November 2021. This panel examines the institutional and regional diplomacies that have marked the negotiation process leading to the new post-Cotonou arrangements. In particular, it highlights tensions between African institutional configurations themselves in terms of rivalries between officials in the ACP Secretariat and the African Union in their respective negotiations with the EU towards a post-Cotonou framework. Moreover, it assesses how ongoing regional formations and institutional relationships will continue to shape the direction of travel for Europe's complex and varied relationships with African sub-regions (such as ECOWAS), the African Union, as well as the newly rebranded Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS).


Presentations of the Symposium


It’s the Process Stupid”: The Contentious Conclusion of the EU-OACPS Agreement

Maurizio Carbone
University of Glasgow

This paper traces the key tensions arising from the conclusion of the agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), initially set to be signed by February 2020 but eventually delayed until the second part of 2021. Such tensions, interestingly, concerned form rather than function and occurred within more than between the two sides. On the one hand, the divisive debates over migration and mobility only in part obfuscated clashes between different clusters of EU Member States on the cooperation format and between EU institutions on their role in the management and implementation of the agreement. On the other hand, the collision between the OACPS and the African Union over who would best represent the interests of African states in their interlocutions with the EU had significant repercussions on the design of EU-Africa relations as well as on African agency.


The Post-Cotonou Process and EU-Africa Interregionalism

Antonio Raimundo
University of Minho & ISCTE-IUL

The European Union has had a long foreign policy relationship with Africa, which over the last twenty years or so has been governed to a large extent by the Cotonou Agreement. The political deal on a post-Cotonou agreement reached in December 2020 signals potential important changes, namely with the introduction of distinct protocols for each of the three regions of the newly reformed group of African, Caribbean and Pacific states.This paper examines the implications of the post-Cotonou process on EU-Africa relations from a interregionalist perspective. More specifically, the analysis assesses the nature and reach of the new Partnership Agreement. As a second analytical step, the paper considers potential effects of the new agreement on the regional actorness of both the EU and Africa as well as on their mutual interregional relationship. This research will contribute empirically to the literature on EU-Africa relations, while adding to regionalism and interregionalism studies


Triangular Inter-Regionalism between ECOWAS, the African Union and the European Union in Practice

Jens Herpolsheimer
Leipzig University

To date, academic literature on inter-regionalism has largely and primarily focused on the agency of Western actors, most importantly the European Union. Consequently, actors from the Global South and their agency in inter-regional relations have remained under-researched. Against this backdrop, this paper argues for combining an international practice approach with a spatial perspective in order to identify, historicize and analyze the everyday practices of inter-regionalism, in particular of African regional organizations towards the European Union, and their spatializing effects. Drawing on an example that so far has received only scant scholarly attention, this paper looks at the practices and triangular inter-connections of different (groups) of actors at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with the African Union and the European Union, focusing on their relations in the field of peace and security. While this has centrally involved interactions in the context of military peacekeeping, this paper argues that it has also involved formal and informal practices in several other contexts, which combined add up to a complex picture of personal and organizational practices and socio-spatial relations. Teasing those out, using the proposed mixed approach, significantly adds to the understanding of the everyday modes of operation of regional organizations and the literature on inter-regionalism.


West Africa and Irreconcilable EU Trade and Migration Policies? EPAs as a push factor for migration

Mark Langan1, Sophia Price2
1Newcastle University, 2Leeds Beckett University

The paper problematizes the EU’s securitised approach to migration in the context of its relationship with West African states and the push for controversial free trade deals. The EU states that EPAs are a development friendly tool for job creation in Africa. At the same time, EU officials speak of the need to deal with the 'root causes of irregular migration' by creating more employment opportunities for youth in African economies. According to the EU, therefore, there is harmony between trade policies, development goals and migration objectives. There is significant cause for concern, however, relating to the negative consequences of EPAs for jobs in the continent, particularly in labour intensive import-competing agricultural sectors. Free trade deals may thus stimulate migration from West Africa to Europe. This apparent paradox is underscored by recent fieldwork conducted in Ghana’s poultry sector which highlights business concerns about EPAs stoking unemployment and migration.