EC’s Non-coherent EPA Policy on Africa

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By Wallie Roux

Since the establishment of the European Union (EU) through the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, the bloc has adopted a series of measures in relation to development in Africa. Although contained in all these measures, the ethos of coherence between different EU policies was innately lacking in its practical dealings with the continent.

This truistic non-coherence was elevated to the point where the EU eventually adopted the “EU Consensus on Development” (2006/C 46/01) in February 2006, sagaciously committing itself to a policy of coherence.

However, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) agenda of the European Commission (EC) clearly illustrates the masquerade of its disdainful approach towards Africa in an accelerated disregard for the EU’s coherence policy.

(Note that the EC is the executive arm of the EU, with the mandate to negotiate EPAs on behalf of all the member states.)

These sentiments are perspicaciously evident in the Joint EU-Africa Strategy that was adopted during the EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon in December 2007.

The Joint EU-Africa Strategy includes an action plan (First Action Plan: 2008 – 2010) consisting of eight partnerships and an institutional architecture for closer cooperation.

The third of these partnerships is the EU-Africa Partnership on Trade and Regional Integration (which is closely linked to the fourth partnership, namely the EU-Africa Partnership on the Millennium Development Goals – MDGs).

The three priority actions of this partnership are (i) support the African integration agenda, (ii) strengthen African capacities in the area of rules, standard and quality control, and (iii) implement the EU-Africa Infrastructure Partnership (the latter was signed on 24 October 2007).

The objective of the first priority action is the political and socio-economic integration of Africa in line with the Abuja Treaty. This, the 1991 Treaty became operational in 1994 and gave birth to the African Union (AU), launched during the Durban Summit in 2002. The Constitutive Act of the AU (adopted during the Lom??????’??

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