It is time to boost the EU’s relations with Africa

Viktor Orban is holding the post-Cotonou agreement with the African, Caribbean, and Pacific community hostage. It is therefore time to enhance multilateralism with Africa, write Carlos Zorrinho, Eric Andrieu, and Hannes Heide.

Carlos Zorrinho is a Socialist and Democrat (S&D) group member and co-chair of the EU-ACP JPA [Joint Parliamentary Assembly among the African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries and the European Union]; Eric Andrieu is an S&D group member and a vice president of the EU-ACP JPA; Hannes Heide is the S&D group coordinator at the EU-ACP JPA.

Climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russian war in Ukraine.

There is a fil rouge that links all these global crises: the cause-effect chain that tightly correlates the place of origin of the crises, mainly the most developed areas of the world, with the places where the consequences of the crises are more severe and widespread, mainly in the African continent and among the Caribbean and Pacific islands.

With climate change, fuelled by decades of CO2 emissions produced by the most advanced countries and recently by the emerging new global players, we have experienced a massive increase in extreme weather events such as desertification, drought, and sea level rise.

With the pandemic, the COVID-19 virus spread similarly everywhere around the globe, but only the African countries ended up being heavily dependent on the good will of the most industrialized countries in providing vaccines and vaccination production capacities.

Lastly, the Russian war in Ukraine has provoked an indirect cause-effect – a severe disruption in wheat, fertilizers, and steel imports, causing a dramatic hunger crisis in the African continent and in many other remote areas.

Against this background, what lesson should the International community learn from this fil rouge?

Global crises require global cooperation. Multilateralism is the answer. Multilateralism is the only concrete way forward to face global crises like climate change, pandemics, terrorism, poverty, human rights, or the spillover effects of a conflict.

A globalised world opens the way for opportunities for a new enhanced multilateralism, a partnership among equals.

The risk, otherwise, is not only a new Cold War but also a world more and more divided into blocks among those who have the means to cope with the global crises and those who will be meant to suffer the consequences of global crises.

Multilateralism is not meant to be a process with endless and inconclusive discussions. On the contrary, a coordinated and shared action to ensure adequate investments and means to finally cut this fil rouge and turn dependency into inter-dependency.

Parliaments, as the closest institutions to citizens and direct representatives of civil societies, are by definition the houses of diversities and dialogue. The house where multilateralism should be relaunched.

Hence, the Joint Parliamentary Assembly among the African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries and the European Union (ACP-EU JPA) is unique in this context. It’s the only multilateral institution that put together different continents’ lawmakers, each of them bringing different experiences and mandates but all bound by the awareness that only together we can face common and global challenges.

That’s the reason why we all expect that the upcoming ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (29 October – 2 November 2022), in Maputo, Mozambique, will represent a turning point.

Orban’s Hungarian government is holding hostage the Post-Cotonou Agreement, a concrete instrument we have to get rid of dependency and arm the only weapon we want to trigger to face global challenges: multilateralism.

We, Europeans, must step up our commitments by strengthening the parliamentary dimension by approving the Post-Cotonou Agreement. Further delays are no longer acceptable.


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