The European Business Council for Africa



From a broader strategic perspective, it will be important for the EU to reinforce relationships

with countries in and around Europe and to deepen engagement with the African

continent and African states. There are multiple cultural, economic and political ties

between the two continents. Stability and prosperity in Africa is critical for the EU’s stability

and prosperity and needs to be supported by closer economic integration of the two

continents, driving the green and digital transitions jointly with Africa […] 

Our most significant relationships are with those who are geographically closest to us.

Stability and prosperity in the EU’s neighbouring countries and Africa are in the EU’s

political and economic interest. The EU intends to do everything it can to support partners in

their efforts to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to achieve sustainable

development. The EU’s dense network of trade agreements with these countries offer the

prospect of closer economic integration and the development of integrated production and

services networks. This would be part of a broader strategy to promote sustainable investment

and improve the resilience of our economies through diversified value chains and foster the

development of trade in sustainable products, including in order to support the climate and

energy transformation. It will also contribute to addressing the root causes of irregular

migration, as part of trade policy’s broader contribution to comprehensive partnerships, in line

with the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

The EU will significantly step up its engagement with African partners to unlock their

economic potential, foster economic diversification and inclusive growth. This will further

enhance sustainable trade and investment links both between the continents and in Africa

itself30. This is in line with the long-term prospect of a continent-to-continent trade agreement

based on the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area

(AfCFTA). It notably builds on Africa’s regional economic communities and the economic

partnership agreements with the EU. This stronger relationship with Africa should be fostered

at all levels, including through political dialogue with the African Union and its members,

through widening and deepening the economic partnership agreements, and through

developing bilateral relations with individual countries to promote sustainable investment in

agriculture, manufactured goods and services. The Commission will also start a reflection on

the potential for facilitating integration in the continent through harmonised rules of origin

applicable to their trade with the EU.

The Commission will propose a new sustainable investment initiative to partners or regions

in Africa and the Southern Neighbourhood interested in doing so. This could be done in the

form of stand-alone investment agreements or as part of the modernisation of existing trade

agreements. To maximise their impact and facilitate implementation, these agreements will be

designed together with EU development cooperation tools to support investment and,

wherever feasible, with a Team Europe approach to ensure synergies with EU Member States,

the private sector, civil society, and all relevant actors. The most prominent of those initiatives

is the External Investment Plan (EIP) launched in 2017 for Sub-Saharan Africa and the EU

Neighbourhood. It also includes the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus

(EFSD+), which is becoming globally applicable in the new multiannual financial framework

(MFF) for 2021-2027. The three pillars of the EIP will help support sustainable investment in

Africa and the Neighbourhood, while inducing reforms to improve the business environment

and investment climate. This will be done with a view to cross-regional integration and closer

EU-Africa trade relations as the AfCFTA advances.


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