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EU, AU Summit: Harnessing Partnership Potentials.

By Ita Offiong
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The 5th European Union and African Union Summit is underway in Abidjan, Cote D’voire, it was slated for 29th and 30th of November, 2017. Africans and Europeans’ heads of states and governments are expected with leaders of the continents’ institutions and organizations.

This year’s summit has a very interesting central theme which is titled ‘Investing in the Youth for a Sustainable Feature’. The triennial meeting which was last held in Brussels, Belgium in 2014 is expected to reach key decisions that would provide political guidance towards effective strategic and development partnership that is expected to address future socioeconomic challenges.

A summit which many see as a convergence of the developed and under-developed worlds should provide a veritable platform to bridge the dichotomy created by this disparity through skill development, peace, security, education, trade and investment.

The focus on youth in this summit is both apt and pertinent, considering the fact that more than 60 percent population of Africa is made up of youth. Unfortunately, they lack guidance and lose faith in the leadership of their respective countries. The apparent despondency of the average African youth can be understood as their countries do not have any social security programme for them.

Poor education policy and ineffective planning coupled with deficit funding over the years have become a bane in socioeconomic advancement of the continent. World Bank in its 2015 report revealed that half of the youth in sub-Saharan Africa are out of schools. This number makes the region to have the highest rate of exclusion. According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM), poverty and armed conflict contribute significantly to the low youth enrolment in schools.

There is no doubt that Africa tends to have much younger population than her European counterpart. This should be seen as potential economic opportunity that if well harnessed can be mutually beneficial to both continents. Unfortunately, this youthful population accounts for the surge in illegal migration into Europe, a crisis situation that is not likely to cease soon. These youth are fleeing from a distressed economic situation and war; they are in search for greener pastures abroad. African leaders should be blamed for neglecting the critical mass of their youth.

The proposed marshal plan for Africa by European leaders should be revisited in this summit. This development package was conceived to create jobs at home countries to dissuade those intending to flee their countries. But in rather resorting to engaging brutal forces to deal with these migrants, they have unwittingly supported human right abuse.

The intention by the French president, Emmanuel Macron to set up what he calls Hot Spots in Chad and Niger where refugees could apply for asylum instead of risking their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean, was seen as a welcome development. As brilliant as this may sound, the host countries believe it would create confusion that may not be easily controlled.

However, Judith Sunderland who is an associate director for Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch offers a solution which this Summit can consider. In addressing this intractable migrant crisis, she is of the view that Europe should grant humanitarian visas to the refugees.

Expectedly, developments on the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) which was launched 10 years ago in Lisbon, Portugal would also feature prominently in the Summit. The purpose for this programme was to move the partnership between these continents beyond donor/recipient basis and to maintain a sustainable cooperation based on mutually complementary interest.

So far, this partnership has delivered tangible results in key areas especially at both political and operational levels. Visible efforts have also been observed in management and resolution of conflicts through Africa-led International mission in Central African Republic in 2013. African Union Mission in Somalia and Africa-led International Support Mission to Mali. These and many other interventions received funding and support from EU.

Also, the EU and AU cooperation on election monitoring has helped to consolidate democratic cultures and structures. African democracies, elections, rule of law and good governance have also been deepened. Trade, regional integration and investment have equally received a boost under this partnership.

However, the recent revelation that most light weapons illegally flooding Nigeria come from Turkey, should be of concern to Nigerians participating in the Summit. The disclosure by the Nigeria’s Minister for Information Mr. Lai Mohammed, a couple of months ago that France provided a base for financial transaction that funded the proscribed IPOB activities in Nigeria should equally be of concern.

The huge humanitarian crises in the country’s North-East region due to the activities of Boko Haram which has continued to receive world attention should also feature in the summit.

It is not in doubt that Africa has a longer political and economic relationship with Europe than other continents. Therefore, this partnership holds the much needed hope for the continent’s economic emancipation and technological advancement.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Ita Offiong and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."