In the months of October and November I had the great pleasure of being an AU-EU Youth Plug-In fellow. The initiative is the first of it’s kind and it’s unprecedented approach resulted in the constructive and continuous engagement of young people in Europe and Africa. As the 36 fellows from Africa and Europe, we acted as ambassadors for 6 different priority areas; Business, Job Creation and Entrepreneurship; Education & Skills; Governance & Political Inclusion; Peace & Security; Culture, Sports & Arts and Environment & Climate Change. We were tasked to engage with various departments and practitioners within the African Union and European Union to lobby and advocate for policy reform, and increased dialogue within our respective clusters.
I was part of the Governance & Political Inclusion cluster. I had the great pleasure and honour of representing my Governance Team in our exchange with The current High Representative of the European Union For Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. We were bold and concise in our position. We didn’t shy away from talking about corruption, illicit financial flows and the resistance of including young people as policy makers and legislators. This moment made me so happy and proud to have a great team along my side!
Our focus as the governance cluster is overcoming and redefining the donor recipient relationship between our continents, creating youth ownership of governance structures and institutions and building partnerships which speak to citizen needs.
These are the questions I presented to Federica Mogherini on behalf of my cluster:
- African Union states are largely dependent on external financial support, whose disbursement and management is subject to corruption, due to increasingly opaque mechanisms. To ensure sustainability of both parties, one should enhance domestic resource mobilization and equalise financial exchange. We propose the use of e-governance tools to tackle illicit financial flows and ensure the accountability of private actors in order to harness their gains in a healthy way.
- There is a lot of resistance against youth capability in being policy makers and legislators. The youth on both continents are largely limited to participating only in the decision-making process related to youth issues, thus excluding them from all other sectoral policies. In order to enhance youth ownership and constructive participation we propose the creation of direct channels for inclusion, as well as removing existing legal barriers.
- We think there is great potential for equal partnership and decentralisation in the expansion of the already existing city twinning network in Europe. By linking AU cities with each other and with EU cities, one creates a relationship based on getting closer to the citizens, equal exchange, technical cooperation and good practices.
We are facing an urgent challenge in our relationship and we want to overcome the highly squeued and somewhat neo-colonial exchange between the European Union and the African Union, which is further perpetuated by corruption from both ends.
With the upcoming post-Cotonou negotiations which are aiming to enhance the equality of partners, there is a need to explore the main deficiencies in the implementation of anti-corruption agendas in EU-AU relations. And how we can make sure that the youth can be involved in a meaningful way to redefine the post Cotonou agreements in order for us to collectively go beyond the recipient donor dynamic.
The post-Cotonou negotiations will be commencing in August 2018 in anticipation of the expiration of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020. The approach of the both continents towards these discussions will require disruptive themes and bold reforms in order to begin to address the many issues between the AU and EU and more importantly set the pace for a renewed relationship based on partnership and constructive shared solutions.