No. 7: The EU and Africa: From Eurafrique to Afro-Europa / Daniel C. Bach / South African Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 20, No. 2, July 2013

Published in: South African Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 20, No. 2, July 2013

The EU and Africa from Eurafrique to Afro-Europa, edited by Adekeye Adebajo and Kaye Whiteman, Johannesburg, Wits University Press, 2012, 531 pp. ISBN: 978-1-84904-171-3, $30.

This is a most welcome review of the historical, political, socio-economic and cultural dimensions of interactions between the European Union and Africa. A closely related agenda, as the sub-title indicates, is the ambition to reinterpret these interactions and, thanks to the gathering of a mix of reputed scholars, experts and practitioners, 'engage constructively' on these issues. Divided into six parts, the volume begins with the discussion of two features of the historical interactions between Africa and Europe: the idea of Eurafrique (Kaye Whiteman), and the more recent emulation of EU institutions by the African Union (Adekeye Adebajo). Part 2 also offers an historical overview of the political, economic and strategic dimensions of the relations between the EU and Sub-Saharan Africa (Adebayo Adedeji and Rob de Vos), South Africa (Talitha Bertelsmann-Scott), and the Maghreb and the Mediterranean (George Joffé). Asia is also brought in so as to offer a counterpoint to the reflection on these interactions (Shada Islam). Part 3 provides a general presentation of the African investment 'frontier' (Liam Halligan), before reviewing the Economic Partnership Agreements (Mareike Meyn), political dialogue as a 'dialogue of the deaf' (Gilbert Khadiagala) and the implications of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy for Africa (Charles Mutasa), while Part 4 addresses EU-Africa security and governance cooperation: the relationship with the African Union (Garth le Pere), and the engagements in the Great Lakes Region (Aldo Ajello), Chad and the Central African Republic (Winrich Kühne) are successively covered. Part 5 reviews the nexus of interactions between the African policy of the EU and those of France (Douglas Yates), the UK (Paul Williams), Portugal (Alex Vines) and the Nordic countries (Anne Hammerstadt). The concluding part of the volume concerns migration and identity: Fortress Europe's approach to migrations (Andrew Geddes); cross-Altantic interactions (Ali Mazrui); and what Europe's post-colonial role and identity could mean for a transformed relationship with Africa (Hartmut Mayer).

The volume provides a valuable overview of the state of EU-Africa interactions on the eve of the 2008-2009 financial crisis. It undertakes to review systematically a number of cross-cutting themes and issues and will prove extremely useful in this respect. In view of the importance granted to the theme of Eurafrique in the title, it is unfortunate that its discussion, along with the review of Lomé (Chapters 1 and 2), suffers from a number of shortcuts. In spite of the extensive literature that is available on the subject, the Lomé Convention is presented as a kind of 'golden age' of EU-Africa relations. Retrospectively, the lack of any significant developmental impact that may be associated with Lomé (if one excludes the case of Mauritius) should invite greater caution. Lomé is also presented as 'one of Britain's main contributions to the new enlarging Europe' (p. 6). The insightful testimony (Chapter 4) of Adebayo Adedeji (then Nigeria's Minister of Economic Reconstruction and Development and one of the driving forces behind Nigeria's policy orientations on Lomé and regional integration) helps to recontextualise a process that, following the UK's adhesion to the EU, enabled a broadening of the scope for EEC-Africa cooperation to non-francophone members. In sharp contrast with previous (Yaoundé) or future (Cotonou) rounds of negotiations, the first Lomé Convention was primarily, Adedeji rightly stresses, 'a child of the strong geopolitical power of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries' (p. 89), for the oil crisis (and embargo) of 1973 enhanced the negotiation capacity of the ACP countries vis-à-vis Europeans. The claim that the idea of Eurafrica never captured attention in the UK is equally debatable. The word 'Eurafrica' may never have been used, but Ernest Bevin's idea of a 'British-led third force' went along with his 'dream of [a] "Euro-Africa" in which the resources of the colonial empires of the Europeans would propel what he called "the middle of the planet"'.1 The emulation of European integration by the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities is well-known and not a new phenomenon. In Chapter 3, Adebayo Adekeye's meticulous and carefully argued comparison of the institution-building processes and outcomes casts nonetheless a fresh light on the so-called emulation of the EU by the African Union. The chapter should be a must-read by all those committed to regional integration in Africa. Another chapter that should similarly command particular attention, this time in Brussels, is the detailed analysis of the yet-to-be-completed process of negotiation towards comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements, a testimony to the EU's incoherent priorities and policy orientations, not to mention their contribution to the deterioration in EU-Africa relations and deleterious impact on region building in southern and eastern Africa.

In such a large collection of themes and article, there is unavoidably some overlap between chapters. A number of gaps remain unfilled. Since the volume is meant to contribute to a redefinition of EU-Africa interactions, a comparative overview of the evolution of EU's trade, aid and investment in Africa would have been helpful. The Central African Franc (CFA) zone is curiously overlooked although it represents a unique case of organic interactions between the eurozone and two African regional currency areas. The implications of the engagement of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other emerging economies on European aid policy are not discussed. It would have been helpful to learn if and how the African diasporas established in Europe contribute to shape policy interactions with Africa. More surprisingly, EU migration policies are only superficially addressed, despite the priority conferred to the securitisation of the boundaries (Frontex is not even mentioned) throughout the 2000s. A reflection of what Europe's interests in Africa are or could become (and vice versa) would also have been welcome given the ineffectiveness of the Joint Africa-EU Strategic partnership in this respect. These themes, and the spectacular transformation of international representations of Africa and Europe since 2008, clearly provide a space for future conferences and publications.

Daniel C. Bach
Emile Durkheim Centre, Institut d'Etudes Politiques,
University of Bordeaux, France
©2013 Daniel C. Bach

1. Greenwood S, Britain and European Integration. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996, p. 4; also Muller K, International Journal of Francophone Studies, 3.1, 2000, pp 4-17, and the journal Matériaux pour l'histoire de notre de notre temps, 77, 2005, pp 52-61.

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