Chapter

Applying postcolonial approaches to studies of Africa-EU relations

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Abstract

To say that Africa/ African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) relations are postcolonial in nature should be stating the obvious, and yet studies that discuss and analyse Africa- EU relations from a postcolonial perspective or through postcolonial approaches are hard to come by. This chapter outlines the importance of postcolonial approaches for the study of Africa- EU relations. It contextualises such approaches in negotiation practices and outcomes of the EU proposed Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Though academic literature on Africa- EU relations tends to define such relations as being asymmetrical, the politics around the negotiations of the EPAs through postcolonial lenses reveals contestations around the assumptions of such asymmetries. In particular, the dominant narratives of asymmetry locate African states as being in a weaker position, thus silencing the articulations of African agency. Yet in undertaking a postcolonial account and paying attention to resistance towards the EU’s imposed EPAs – through diplomacy by state actors and the actions of civil society – this chapter is able to highlight African agency in the context of Africa- EU relations. Throughout this chapter, references to and examples of the politics around EPA negotiations– launched in 2000 and which were supposed to be finalised by 2007 in order to meet a World Trade Organization (WTO)- mandated deadline – are analysed through postcolonial approaches with the aim of contextualising the reasons as to why negotiations did not lead to the signing of EPAs by the 2007 deadline. Accordingly, after discussing what postcolonial approaches are, this chapter discusses how to consider and analyse colonial legacy by decentring Europe, how to analyse partnership from a postcolonial perspective, how to contextualise market liberalisation in a changing world order within a context of a postcolonial global economy, as well as how regional actorness should be analysed through the politicisation and rearticulation of subjectivity.

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... To this end, our article attempts to contribute to a small but growing literature that problematizes Eurocentric and neocolonial tendencies in EU foreign policy (e.g., Haastrup, 2020;Keukeleire & Lecocq, 2018;Kinnvall, 2016;Langan, 2020;Murray-Evans, 2018;Musliu, 2021;Onar & Nicolaïdis, 2013;Orbie, 2021b;Rutazibwa, 2010;Sebhatu, 2020;Staeger, 2016). However, these writings have not yet engaged with the EU GSP regime. ...
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... Oddly enough, however, cross-fertilization between this literature and the discipline of EU development studies has been relatively modest (for exceptions, see e.g. Chaban and Elgström, 2021;Haastrup, 2020;Hansen & Jonsson, 2014;Karagiannis, 2004;Langan, 2020;Langan & Price, 2020;Musliu, 2014;Nessel, 2021;Rutazibwa, 2010;Sebhatu, 2020;Staeger, 2016;Whiteman, 2012). As stated by Sebhatu, "studies that discuss and analyse Africa-EU relations from a postcolonial perspective or through postcolonial approaches are hard to come by" (p. ...
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When they were first proposed by the European Commission to the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries — all signatories to the Lome and Cotonou agreements which provided them with preferential access to the European market — economic partnership agreements were presented as supporting regional integration and development. However, most African states regarded economic partnership agreements with suspicion, fearing that the agreements would limit their market access and their policy space. Progress on negotiations has been slow, and more than two years after they were supposed to have been concluded there are still a number of outstanding issues that the individual African regions and the European Commission have to resolve. This paper explores some of the difficulties and the progress made thus far, and proposes some measure that would address the concerns around development and regional integration in the context of the challenges posed by the global financial crisis.
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The WTO-sanctioned waiver for the extension of the Lomé system of preferences to the African, Caribbean Pacific (ACP) countries expired in December 2007. This deadline coincided with the scheduled conclusion of the EU–ACP Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations, initiated in 2002. The origins of the EU–ACP relationship stretch back to the early days of the European Community, and were formalised in 1975 with the signing of the Georgetown Agreement. However, there has been a notable ‘cooling’ of the relationship since the signing of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2000. For many, the new EPA framework is perceived as a diktat rather than a true partnership agreement. This article reviews the culmination of six years of talks between the two sides and the EU's apparent ‘rationalisation’ of a decades-old partnership.
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Incl. abstract, tables, bibl. The Cotonou Agreement, signed on 23 June 2000, defines the new relationship between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. It was the result of 18 months of negotiations to decide the future of EU-ACP relations after the Lome´ Convention's expiry on 29 February 2000. This article highlights the significant changes represented by the Cotonou Agreement and emphasises some of the dangers that may result for the ACP states. In doing so, the article adopts a neo-Gramscian perspective showing how the nature of the new EU-ACP agreement has significantly shifted the relationship further from one of co-operation to one of coercion. The new approach taken by the EU can be understood within the context of the hegemonic dominance of neoliberalism within political elites. This is most explicitly demonstrated by the EU's major justification for the proposed changes: the need to comply with the core principles and rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
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