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History of the African Union–European Union summit

The 5th edition of the African Union–European Union Summit will be held on the 29th and 30th of November, 2017 in Abidjan. A retrospective look at the previous 4 editions will reveal that its objective has remained the same: strengthening relations and exchanges between both continents.

First African UnionEuropean Union Summit, Cairo 2000

The first edition of the Summit took place in Cairo in 2000. During this first continental meeting, European and African leaders committed to uniting and establishing a new dimension to their partnership. Considerable changes took place on both continents following this initiative. Democratization processes and reforms were launched on both continents, and followed through with consistent improvements. Efforts to create better conflict resolution and crisis handling models were launched in Africa and Europe and their respective continental organizations underwent significant changes. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) became the African Union (AU), equipped with a socio-economical program: the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The European Union almost doubled in size and enhanced its structure. The global situation had also changed with new international challenges coming to light, and through an increasing process of globalization the world has become more interdependent.

Second African Union–European Union Summit, Lisbon, Portugal, 2007

The second AU–EU Summit adopted the “joint strategy” on December 9th in Lisbon. With this, 27 European countries and 53 African countries ushered in a new era in the relationship with them now dealing as equals. The old “charity” paradigm gave way to a true partnership where together, these nations could tackle new challenges and observe global issues with a new perspective. The heads of states present at this summit endorsed a “strategy which must be guided by principles of African unity, African and European independence, joint concession and responsibility, comply with human rights and democratic principles, and the right to development.”

Third African UnionEuropean Union Summit, Libya, 2010

During the thirst summit, a more inclusive approach involving more than the organizing institutions was adopted. A series of side events made it possible to bring together representatives from civil society and youth groups, the private sector, trade unions, researchers and scientists from both continents. The aim was to give new momentum to the AU – EU common strategy by bringing together those at the heart of the partnership and by inviting all representatives to take part in its implementation. It was during this third summit that the second AU – EU strategy action plan (2011-2013) was adopted.

Fourth African UnionEuropean Union Summit, Brussels, 2014

The theme of the fourth edition of the African Union–European Union Summit was “Investing in People, for prosperity and peace”. The participants tackled key subjects such as peace, security, investments, and climate change and population diversity. In the final remarks, the “will to host regular political talks at the ministerial level, especially in conjunction with international events” was reaffirmed. A roadmap for the 2014-2017 periods was also ratified. This roadmap outlined strategic priorities and identified their means of implementation.

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