This policy brief addresses the state and perspectives of African Union–European Union (AU–EU) cooperation in the run-up to the sixth AU–EU Summit, which has now been earmarked for February 2022. It provides a broad overview of the framework and content of AU–EU institutional relations, as well as of common and contested fields of cooperation. The core of the analysis is dedicated to revealing the main structural asymmetries preventing cooperation from achieving a partnership of equals. These asymmetries originate deeper than the apparent differences in mandate, governance and resources between the two organisations and have their roots in the AU’s capacity deficits and in the EU’s lack of a coherent narrative for Africa. In order to mitigate these asymmetries, the brief outlines a set of policy recommendations – highlighting the importance of strengthening AU external agency and improving EU policy coherence.
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