No. 6: The EU and Africa: From Eurafrique to Afro-Europa / Gordon Cumming / The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 51, Issue 2, June 2013

Published in: The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 51, Issue 2, June 2013

The EU and Africa: From Eurafrique to Afro-Europa, Edited by A. Adebajo and K. Whiteman, London: Hurst and Company, 2012. Pp. 531 + Index. £25.00 (pbk).

European Union (EU) relations with Africa are all too often examined through a specialist lens, with much of the literature focusing narrowly on European approaches to development assistance, external governance or security sector reform. This edited volume, with 22 chapters written by European, African, American and Asian academics and policy-makers, adopts a more wide-ranging, holistic approach that covers development, trade, security, governance, migration and identity issues in EU-Africa relations.

Part I provides an historical perspective, exploring the durability of 'Eurafrique', a concept developed during colonial times to 'justify' European exploitation of Africa's resources. It also identifies lessons that the African Union (AU) can learn from European regional integration, as well as questioning whether the AU has been wise to copy the EU's instirutional architecture. Part II focuses on the EU's strategic engagement with Africa, stressing the limitations of its partnerships with South Africa and the countries of North Africa. It suggests that the EU's partnership with Asia is now a higher priority and explores the lessons that this latter relationship offers for African policy-makers. Part III calls for greater private sector involvement in Africa ('the last investment frontier', p. 171), condemns EU hypocrisy in subsidising farm produce via the Common Agricultural Policy, and questions whether the EPAs are aimed at promoting regional integration or the EU's mercantilist interests. Part IV looks at new approaches to promoting a shared EU-Africa governance agenda, highlights the shortcomings of European Security and Defence Policy missions in the Congo and Chad, and challenges the use of European development assistance for security purposes. Part V analyses the Africa policies of key European member states, namely France, the UK, Portugal and the Nordic countries. It suggests that Norway, Sweden and Denmark have recently adopted self-interested Africa strategies, a trend which does not augur well for future European cooperation on Africa. The final part points to the securitisation of migration issues by the EU, asks whether Europe might eventually become a post-racial society where 'the culture line' replaces 'the colour line (p. 430), and calls for a new guilt-free relationship ('Afro-Europa') based on equality, partnership and mutual self-interest (p. 442).

This study is ambitious not only in its thematic coverage but also in its geographic reach, which includes North as well as sub-Saharan Africa. It also combines historical with more contemporary chapters. The former throw up fresh perspectives on, for example, the potential viability of France's West and Equatorial Africa federations as independent post-colonial entities. The latter include authoritative first-hand accounts by Aldo Ajello, former EU Special Representative to the Great Lakes, and Adebayo Adedeji, former head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Some chapters contain valuable nuggets, including claims that France used Operation Artemis to 'supply arms' to Rwandan Hutu rebels (p. 334), that eight countries now have more embassies in Africa than Britain, and that Portugal is relying on ex-African colonies to help it out of recession. Most contributors make concrete recommendations on, for example, the need for less overlap in the membership of regional economic communities, for increased European aid and African investment in African agriculture, and for greater modesty from the EU about its capabilities as an actor in Africa.

The book is practice-oriented and does, as such, have shortcomings from an academic perspective. It lacks an overarching theoretical framework, a detailed literature review and a rigorous approach to referencing. There is also some overlap (notably on EPAs) and only limited treatment of environment policy, the role of Germany and the franc zone. The book would have benefited from a concluding chapter which pulled together its key themes and recommendations. This would have allowed the reader to know where the editors stood on conflicting proposals. To illustrate, Adedeji calls for a European Marshall Aid Plan (p. 95) while Rob de Vos wants to see a focus on trade and an end to African 'dependence on aid funding' (p. 120). Similarly, Hartmut Mayer suggests that the EU should rank Africa low down on its list of global responsibilities, whereas most contributors would like to see the EU engage more directly and wholeheartedly with the challenges of Africa.

Overall, this is an impressive, meaty and carefully cross-referenced volume. It will be essential reading for development practitioners, scholars and students of international relations and development studies.

Gordon Cumming
Cardiff University

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