Euro-African Relations: Actions Speak Louder than Words

4 Min Read

There is a saying that goes, between saying and doing, there is the sea. The sea really is between Europe and Africa both literally and figuratively. Salty water and words many of which in the past did not materialize. We talked about this with Giovanni Carbone, ISPI’s  (please write this out in full) head of Africa Program and professor of Political Science at the University of Milan and this is what he had to say:

Is the relationship between Europe and Africa really changing?

In the first fifteen years of the new millennium, there has been a re-awakening in the attention of European countries, parallel to that of other states such as China, towards the African continent, generated by the good performance of the economies from this part of the world. The coming together once again between the two continents was the result of the positive trends in raw materials and capital coming not only from China, but also from India and Brazil, which contributed to the growth of African economies, and the fall in commodity prices that have changed future European prospects leading to great concern in terms of immigration and internal security in Europe.

These conditions also led the European Union to reflect on the need to return to investing in Africa in order to avoid the progressive disintegration of many of its countries, and to stop the massive migratory flow towards European coasts. On the one hand Europe recognizes the potential of these countries, on the other hand its trying to solve the problem of migration through the controversial slogan of “help them at home”. Italy for example has shown a significantly greater interest than in the past. This was confirmed by the visits, three by Matteo Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister and one by Paolo Gentiloni (Who is he?) in the last four years compared to the past when no prime minister in office bothered to visit Sub-Saharan countries. Overall, I would say that there is a growing interest in economies that have done well and, driven by concerns about migratory flows, the obstacle of the slowdown in the last two years is being overcome.

The President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani spoke about the Marshall Plan for Africa. Is this really serious this time?

The Marshall Plan is an expression that has been evoked, but not formalized, on several occasions. Tajani has asked to bring the Investment Fund to € 44 billion, a figure that thanks to the leverage effect should put in motion investments for around € 500 billion. We have to see if it will happen and if the answer is yes it will be in the years to come. These resources must be included in the Union budget and it is still worth waiting to see if they will be approved. There have also been concrete initiatives in the past, such as the Trust Fund for Africa, whose resources however, as on other occasions, have been diverted mainly to the countries and areas useful in the controlling of the immigration phenomenon.