No. 10: The EU and Africa: From Eurafrique to Afro-Europa / Tatiana Coutto / European Studies Association (EUSA) Review, Vol. 27 No. 1, 2014

Published in: European Studies Association (EUSA) Review, Vol. 27, No. 1, 2014

The EU and Africa: from Eurafrique to Afro-Europa, Adekeye Adebajo and Kaye Whiteman (Eds). London: Hurst & Company, 2012

In recent years the external role of the European Union (EU) has been the subject of numerous books, theses and articles. Some of theses works analyse how the interplay between various EU institutions and actors may shape EU foreign policy. Another body of literature seeks to understand the mechanisms that allow the EU to diffuse certain policies and values beyond its borders, and the conditions that prevent it from doing so. A smaller group explores the multifaceted relationship between the EU and other regions of the world in order to investigate the role of the EU as a global actor.

Adekeye Adebajo, Executive Director of the Cape Town-based Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), and Kaye Whiteman, writer on African affairs and former European Commission official belong to the third group. In The EU and Africa: From Euroafrique to Afro-Europa they take up the challenge of organising a "holistic and comprehensive assessment of the relations of the European Union and Africa" (p.1). The book tackles pressing issues that have shaped the interactions between the two regions from the late 19th century until today, such as trade and investment, military operations and economic partnerships. As suggested in the title, this uneven relationship has evolved from domination and pure exploitation of Africa's resources to a sophisticated system where various states, regional organisations and international institutions tackle issues of political, economic and ethical impact for both regions. The book suggests that the EU — an ongoing project itself — still needs to define its role and its identity in order to be able to devise a coherent foreign policy approach towards Africa.

The book consists of 22 chapters organized in six thematic parts. Following Whiteman's thorough introduction, Part 1 provides a historical account of the relationship between Africa and Europe; part 2 addresses the political and economic dimensions of regional integration in Africa, as well as the EU approach to the Maghreb, the Mediterranean and South Africa. Parts 3 and 4 deal with specific issues such as trade, development, and economic cooperation, and analyse the [unfulfilled] role of the EU as a security provider in different sub-regions of Africa. Part 5 explores specific features of the relations between Africa, former colonial powers and European middle powers. Particularly interesting are the contributions of Anne Hammerstad's about the Nordics, the EU and Africa and Douglas Yates' text on the role of France in the continent. Part 6 tackles the issues of migration — special attention should be given to Andrew Geddes' chapter on the admission and asylum of developing countries' nationals — and identity. Hartmut Mayer's text on EU postcolonial role concludes the book.

The editors do a remarkable job in bringing together contributions from diplomats, scholars, journalists, EU officials and practitioners from European and African political organizations and think tanks. The result is a comprehensive and informative work about how the relationship between the EU and Africa has evolved over time. The chapters follow a similar structure: almost all the contributions provide an introduction to the topic from a historical perspective and are concluded by normative considerations or future perspectives on specific dimensions of Africa-EU relationship. Different writing styles can be identified, but the chapters are well balanced and organized in a coherent and harmonious manner. The various authors manage to summarize a considerable amount of information, to present it to the reader in a clear way, and to offer the public a critical appraisal of salient policy issues — Charles Mutasa's text on the EU Common Agricultural Policy and Rob de Vos' contribution on aid and partnership are good examples. The EU and Africa successfully avoids the Eurocentric tone that is so currently present in this type of work, and is a worthwhile read.

On the other hand, some crucial dimensions of EU-Africa relations are underexplored or overlooked in the book. This is the case of environmental protection, health, and fight against corruption, for example. Thus, by approaching a large number of issues, the editors make a choice not to engage in an in-depth analysis of each topic, but to identify and approach specific issues from a critical perspective. Although the book has an explicit empirical character, some theoretical and methodological considerations could have been included; there isn't a theoretical chapter properly speaking, although some chapters refer to seminal works in EU external relations such as the capability-expectations gap put forth by Christopher Hill. A concluding chapter by the editors would have also contributed to the overall organization of the book. Finally, a table of acronyms would have made it easier for the reader to navigate in the "alphabet soup" of EU and Africa's foreign policy institutions. Such aspects do not compromise the quality and the importance of the work, but may render it less attractive to PhD candidates who are in a more advanced stage of their research, and to established academics.

Written in an accessible language and without extensive use of EU jargon, this comprehensive account of the relations between the EU and Africa will appeal most notably to early graduate students working on the foreign policy of the EU and its member states, regionalism in Africa and development-related issues. Certain chapters may also be used in undergraduate and masters' courses on EU foreign policy, inter-regional relations and Africa in the world as basis for group discussions. The book aims at a broad audience: foreign policy analysts and practitioners — diplomats, think tank advisors and journalists — might also find Adebajo and Whiteman's work particularly useful. This book not only contributes to the debate on the relations between Africa and the EU, but also stimulates further discussions about the EU's identity as a global actor as well as Africa's role in an increasingly inter-dependent world.

Tatiana Coutto
European Union Institute

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