Ten years after signing the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) the 5th African Union-European Union Summit was held at the end of November in Abidjan under the theme “Investing in Youth for Accelerated Growth and Sustainable Development”. The unequal political relationship between the two continents based on the financial flows, migrating mainly from one side to the other, aiming to contribute to the development and the enhancement of the security of the African continent, the remaining impact of the colonial history, as well as the mistrust between the decision makers and the overall civil society of both continents are still prevalent.
The summit ended by the adoption of a declaration on four common priorities for the AU-EU partnership, namely on economic opportunities for youth, peace and security, mobility and migration, cooperation on governance. In the following three key challenges related to these priorities will be tackled.
Youth and civil society for resilient communities
Africa's youth population, between age 15 and 24, amounts to 20 percent and, more importantly, constitutes 54 percent of the total labor force. By 2050 the African continent population is expected to reach 2.5 billion (UN World Population Prospects, 2017) and 25 percent of the world population, aged between 15 and 24 years, will be African (UN Academic Impact, 2016).
During the opening session of the summit, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, stressed the mutual goal to invest in youth, by both listening and involving them in projects meeting their priorities. In practical terms, only a few speaking slots (5 minutes for the European Youth Forum, 5 minutes for the Pan-African Youth Union, 2 minutes each for 3 fellows of the Youth-Plug-In Initiative), in total 16 minutes for two-day discussion, were allocated to youth representatives.