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An analysis of EU-Africa relations in the Post-Cotonou Agreement context

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Title: An analysis of EU-Africa relations in the Post-Cotonou Agreement context
Author(s): Autio, Maria
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Degree program: Master 's Programme in Society and Change
Specialisation: Global Development Studies
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2022
This thesis examines the contemporary relations between the European Union and Africa in the context of the Post-Cotonou Agreement, which will guide the relations for the next 20 years. The current European Commission has expressed an aspiration to shift the relations towards representing an equal partnership. This thesis studies how the objective materializes in practice. It explores the changes introduced by the Post-Cotonou Agreement and examines how the agreement and its negotiations succeed in representing the relations as an equal partnership. The study focuses on the agreement’s aspects of development policy, examining how matters of political conditionality and ownership impact the relations. It also explores the motivations behind European Union-Africa development policy. To answer these questions, the study analyses the negotiated agreement text of the Post-Cotonou Agreement and its predecessor, the Cotonou Partnerships Agreement. In addition, it analyses published texts focusing on the agreement and its negotiations, mostly written by academics and officials who have followed the negotiation process closely. Both the agreements and the published texts are analyzed through qualitative content analysis. The analysis shows that the changes brought by the Post-Cotonou Agreement are mainly rhetorical. It puts increased emphasis on terms that underline the equalness of the partnership but pays even less attention to the ownership of African countries than its predecessor. The involvement of political conditionality raised debate in the negotiations, bringing forward how they undermine the partnerships agenda. Nevertheless, they have received even more recognition in the new agreement, as was desired by the European Union. The agreement also presents additional thematic contents that many African countries were against in the negotiations. The findings on the negotiation process highlight the existing power imbalances in the relations, as the European Union was able to use its leverage to negotiate better terms in matters it perceives important. However, the African side was stricter than before in holding on to its objectives in the negotiations, which shows its improved position in them. Yet, the analysis finds that Africa’s position was anticipated to be significantly better than it was, but certain intra-African disputes and hopes to maintain continuity of development funding were observed to deteriorate it. The study comes to the conclusion that despite the European Union’s rhetoric about equalizing the relations, contemporary European Union-Africa relations do not represent an equal partnership. The findings suggest that the European Union is more interested in promoting its global image and self-interests than it is in equalizing the relations with Africa, demonstrating how the Union’s attitudes towards Africa have remained largely similar as before. The Post-Cotonou Agreement and its negotiations provide a clear example of the structural dependence between Africa and the European Union that impairs possibilities for a profound change in the relations.
Keyword(s): Euroopan unioni Afrikka kehityspolitiikka

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