“The Maghreb and the European bid for Africa”, Eduard Soler i Lecha (CIDOB, Spain)

There are few issues on which all European leaders and institutions agree. That Africa must be a strategic priority is one. The senior EU officials who took office in December 2019 stated as much, as did the member states at the Foreign Affairs Council in the same month. If any doubt remained, Ursula von der Leyen sent a clear message when, rather than choosing Washington, Moscow or Ankara for her first official trip outside the European Union, the new president flew to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital and headquarters of the African Union (AU). In February 2020 a further step was taken, when up to 20 commissioners travelled to Addis Ababa again for a meeting with their African Union counterparts. On March 9th, the commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy announced the proposed Strategy with Africa, rather than for Africa. But the consensus that Africa is a priority may be concealing two very different narratives about the continent: Africa as a space of opportunities and Africa as a locus of instability and threats. 

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