A delegation composed of politicians, both in government and in opposition, from Mali, Guinea-Conakry, Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire visited the European Union and took part in a day of dialogue and exchange of proposals, ideas and points of view, hosted by the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation.
Since the adoption of a new strategy for Africa by the EU in 2020, the paradigm of relations has changed, as the participants in this series of meetings were able to observe. "Dialogue between Europe and Africa is on an equal footing," summarised the politicians of the African delegation during the press conference on the last day in Madrid.
Prior to the Spanish capital, the delegation also visited Berlin and Brussels, where they were able to discuss and exchange with their German and European counterparts. In Spain, the delegation met with authorities from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Agency for International Development Cooperation, as well as the Ministry of Social Security and Inclusion.
The agenda included the new position and role of West Africa in relation to its European neighbour. A possible strategy for the relocation of production and the valorisation of African industry that would provide Europe with a much more stable supply channel than Asia. The fundamental pillar of the new EU-Africa relations, i.e., in the words of the delegation, "African solutions to African problems", a declaration that aims to leave behind the paternalistic feeling linked to colonisation, which may have weighed heavily in earlier times, was also very much taken into account.
However, the African delegation stressed that despite this, Europe should not hide behind this new stance to abandon African governments to their fate, and disregard the sometimes unstable situation in the country, mainly caused by coups d'état. They highly valued the dialogue with the European institutions, and said they deeply appreciated Europe's commitment to African states. In short, the African delegation made clear its preference for a good relationship with Europe over other international actors, because of the ties that have united the two regions, such as the Francophonie, without thereby interfering in their relations with other powers or giving rise to a situation of exclusivity. "More bridges need to be built", the West African politicians agreed in consensus.
The dialogue also included the urgent need to digitise and create links through new tools in order to achieve sub-Saharan Africa's goals. One of the big ambitions mentioned at the meetings was the possibility of extending the Erasmus+ student exchange programme to reach out to African countries as well, in an effort to create cohesion and common ground.