Briefing – EU support to democracy and good governance in Africa – 17-11-2017

EU support to democracy and good governance in Africa

17-11-2017

Support to democracy, good governance and human rights is a central component of EU cooperation with Africa, and of EU development aid to the continent, under the different frameworks shaping relations with African countries, such as the ACP framework for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Neighbourhood Policy for North Africa, and the Africa-EU Joint Strategy for cooperation at continental level. EU support is all the more important as democracy in many African countries is recent and still fragile. Democratic progress has had its ups and downs on the African continent since the 1990s wave of democratisation. On the whole, the number of free countries has stagnated, and progress on good governance indicators has been slow. Popular support for democratic systems in African countries remains however high, justifying EU efforts to promote democracy. The EU has a vast array of tools at its disposal. It has used the conditionality enshrined in its bilateral agreements to respond to serious political crises, particularly in Africa. EU budget support, which is vital to several African countries, has been subject to similar democratic and human rights conditionality. EU development aid includes an important component supporting good governance and rule of law. The EU has become an important partner in election observation and democracy assistance, and most of Africa has received EU missions. However, whether these tools of democracy support can make a significant difference remains a complicated issue. Much depends on conditions on the ground and the willingness of the partner governments to make progress. As the EU is about to redefine its priorities for cooperation with the African continent, democracy and good governance are acknowledged as a central pillar of resilience, strongly interlinked with peace and stability.

Support to democracy, good governance and human rights is a central component of EU cooperation with Africa, and of EU development aid to the continent, under the different frameworks shaping relations with African countries, such as the ACP framework for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Neighbourhood Policy for North Africa, and the Africa-EU Joint Strategy for cooperation at continental level. EU support is all the more important as democracy in many African countries is recent and still fragile. Democratic progress has had its ups and downs on the African continent since the 1990s wave of democratisation. On the whole, the number of free countries has stagnated, and progress on good governance indicators has been slow. Popular support for democratic systems in African countries remains however high, justifying EU efforts to promote democracy. The EU has a vast array of tools at its disposal. It has used the conditionality enshrined in its bilateral agreements to respond to serious political crises, particularly in Africa. EU budget support, which is vital to several African countries, has been subject to similar democratic and human rights conditionality. EU development aid includes an important component supporting good governance and rule of law. The EU has become an important partner in election observation and democracy assistance, and most of Africa has received EU missions. However, whether these tools of democracy support can make a significant difference remains a complicated issue. Much depends on conditions on the ground and the willingness of the partner governments to make progress. As the EU is about to redefine its priorities for cooperation with the African continent, democracy and good governance are acknowledged as a central pillar of resilience, strongly interlinked with peace and stability.