More than 360 representatives from African and European civil society organisations took part in the “Africa-Europe Civil Society Survey” at the beginning of October. The importance of African-European relations was rated as high, but its quality was questioned. The survey had been initiated by VENRO together with the trio partners CONCORD, Plataforma Portuguesa das ONGD and SLOGA. It was conducted for the first time and implemented by the German Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research.
A total of 363 people (221 from Africa and 142 from Europe) took part in the ten-day online survey, which was available in English, French and Portuguese. Most respondents are involved in the areas of human rights, environment and climate change.
97 percent of the survey participants consider closer cooperation between Africa and Europe to be “very important” or “important”. But more than two-thirds believe that cooperation to date is “not working well” or “not at all”. It is noticeable that the proportion of negative evaluations is significantly lower among African (50 percent) than among European participants (84 percent).
Almost all respondents (93 percent) are in favour of intensifying cooperation between Africa and Europe. Among the five core issues identified by the EU Commission in its proposal for a new AU-EU strategy, the area of “Sustainable Growth and Jobs” is considered to be the most important (African respondents: 42 percent, European respondents: 31 percent). This is followed by “Peace, Security and Governance” (27 and 22 percent) and “Green Transition and Energy Access” (13 and 21 percent). In contrast, the areas “Migration and Mobility” (three and twelve percent) and “Digital Transformation” (four and one percent), which are strongly emphasised by the EU Commission, are rarely mentioned.
More civil society participation needed
Another important finding of the survey is that the vast majority of participants (71 percent) are hardly or not at all familiar with the political cooperation “Africa-Europe Partnership” initiated by the AU and the EU in 2007. Among those respondents who know the partnership better or at least have heard of it, only nine percent think that the concerns and positions of civil society organisations are sufficiently taken into account.
With a view to future African-European relations, 89 percent of the participants would like to see civil society more closely involved in the “Africa-Europe Partnership”, both through national governments and through direct cooperation with the AU and EU. 79 per cent of the interviewees in Africa and 84 per cent in Europe already work regularly with civil society actors on the other continent.
A detailed evaluation of the “Africa-Europe Civil Society Survey” is currently being prepared and will be published in the coming weeks. The results will also be used in the preparations for the AU-EU Summit, which has been postponed to 2021.