(School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London)
Paper long abstract:
The European Union’s growing role in Africa has triggered many hopes that it would eventually rid the European foreign policies in Africa of the long-time suspicions of neo-colonial interests and renew what had long been essentially developmental policies and whose efficiency was, moreover, increasingly contested. With the deconcentration process that started in 2000, it was hoped that European delegations in Africa would be given a more prominent – and possibly diplomatic – role, while the growing number of EU policies and programmes in conflict prevention and security sector reform in Africa seemed to indicate the regional organisation’s desire to transform and expand its involvement towards a more security-oriented and possibly political approach. Is this the case? Can the EU renew what was once idealistically praised as a ‘partnership of equals’ but is now criticised for its hierarchical and unequal nature? Is the EU effectively in the process of establishing a new relationship, different from the long-lived bilateral relations between former colonial powers and colonies?
This paper will look at the European Union’s recent policies in Africa and more particularly its contribution to security in West Africa and underline the many limits of what was expected to be a European ‘Renaissance’ on a continent whose political leaders and civil society are increasingly critical of the European involvement and where other powers’ – the United States, China, India, Dubai – growing presence may threaten its interests. Specific attention will be given here to the contents of the EU security policies in West Africa – and the theoretical approach that underlies them - and West African perceptions of these policies.
The Commonwealth, America and the EU: international relations in Africa