8. Africa/European Union (EU) Relations in the Era of COVID-19
Place of Publication: Johannesburg, South Africa
Date of Publication: June 2021
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in December 2019, all aspects of human life have been fundamentally affected. Although the pandemic is essentially a public health issue, political and economic relations between states and other actors have also been altered, as global supply chains and markets have been forced to adjust to conditions brought about by the virus, as well as measures taken to combat its spread.
Restrictions on movement and travel have been implemented by governments globally. Geo-political arrangements are being transformed, and Africa/European Union (EU) relations are no exception. Africa’s role in the global arena –as the continent with the youngest population, with 60 per cent of people under the age of 25 – is also undergoing dramatic changes at a time when a quarter of Africa’s global migrants – 10.6 million out of 39.4 million – live in the EU.
The COVID-19 crisis thus provides a new context for rethinking the future of Africa/EU relations. To explore areas of convergence between Africa and the EU in order to provide concrete ideas for policy development, the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation (IPATC) in South Africa held a one-day policy dialogue on “Africa/EU Relations in the Era of COVID-19” in Johannesburg on 13 November 2020. The meeting was part of IPATC’s German government-funded project on “Implementation of the United Nations (UN) Global Compact: Conflict, Governance, and Migration in Africa/EU Relations”, which aims to consolidate the Community of Practice (CoP) it established in 2019 involving about 100 African, EU, UN, and International Organization for Migration (IOM) policymakers, diplomats, experts, and civil society actors. About 25 participants attended the Johannesburg policy dialogue.
This report is based on key discussions and policy recommendations that emerged from the meeting, as well as additional research.
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