The EU’s neo-colonial Policy in Africa

The EU continues to use its financial assistance to African countries for political purposes.

6 mins read
Violence in the Sahel region of Africa has been continual for more than a decade. [Credit: Photo by Maeva Bambuck/AP/Shutterstock]

The European Union regards itself as a privileged partner of Africa that takes special “care” of the continent and may therefore force its policies onto African countries in a paternalist manner. At the same time, the EU is not willing to assume responsibility for the crimes committed by the European colonial regimes and their consequences for Africa’s development, or to provide real assistance, without a hidden agenda, to help African countries integrate into the global economy as an equal partner.

To the contrary, the EU has been working systematically to increase African countries’ dependence in a broad range of areas, including financial and economic policy, food and energy security, healthcare, and the stability of public administration.

It is to notice the growing exploitation of African countries’ resources, including their population. The fragmentation of the global economy and increased competition for resources have confronted the EU with the need to increase investment in Africa, but not in the interests of Africans. The goal is to ensure the sustainable development of the European Union rather than Africa. The best the EU can offer Africa is programmes to create conditions for the training and maintenance of the workforce that will service the mining and transportation infrastructure the EU needs.

The EU is doing this to entrench Africa’s subordinate position in the bloc confrontation between “democracies” and “autocracies,” which the West is forcing on the international community. In fact, the West is trying to turn Africa into a raw materials colony giving the West guaranteed access to its raw materials in return for limited access to some “boons” of Western civilisation.

In November 2022, the EU and Namibia signed a memorandum of understanding on the production of critical raw materials. The lofty words about the creation of safe and sustainable raw materials value chain camouflage Brussel’s intention to gain access to critical raw materials, such as tungsten and fluorspar, and renewable hydrogen that is critical to the green transition on conditions that are favourable exclusively for the EU. Brussels wants to sign similar documents with other African countries, namely Algeria, Burundi, Zambia, Congo, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda and South Africa.

The main role in this undertaking has been assigned to the EU initiative known as the Global Gateway (GG).

Under the Global Gateway (GG), the EU promised African countries that it would mobilise 150 billion euros from diverse investment sources (half of the total investment) by 2027 for the implementation of infrastructure and related projects, including through the re-distribution or “offsetting” of the promised funds.
The EU has started practically implementing GG through targeted measures, such as modernisation of transport and energy infrastructure, green and digital projects, and sustainable forest management initiatives, which it is promoting in the media.

We regard GG as nothing more than a way of ensuring the interests of the collective West to the detriment of the global majority. Essentially, the countries that set their eyes on EU investment in their infrastructure and economic development as a whole are invited to play on the “democratic side of history” by accepting a certain set of principles, including Western values, human rights, environmental and other standards, and demonstrating readiness to cooperate in the fight against hybrid threats and the use of “economic coercion for geopolitical goals.” Ultimately, the West would like to maximally expand its economic sphere of influence that operates according to the Western rules, as well as create additional leverage to enact socioeconomic (and through them internal political) processes in the beneficiary countries.

When it comes to Africa, GG is just a new edition of the EU’s development assistance policy. The main difference is the much more rigidly uncompromising methods of enforcing Western recommendations, including a confrontation policy towards certain third countries (Russia, China).

In other words, the EU continues to use its financial assistance to African countries for political purposes. The real goal of giving assistance to Africa is to create favourable conditions for the economic interests of the West and transnational corporations. Meanwhile, the West has no regard for the African countries’ real needs. Despite the multibillion assistance programmes the EU has implemented over the past decades, Africa has not made great strides towards industrialisation. Moreover, enforcement of the EU’s methods has led to the demise of generally successful economic sectors in many African countries.

For example, compliance with Western recommendations led to severe disruptions in the cultivation, processing and export of cashews, coconuts and other agricultural products in Mozambique. Three decades of Western efforts to replace the traditional socioeconomic system and largely successful elements of the country’s planned economy with a pseudo market model only led to the degeneration of these vital elements of Mozambique’s agrifood sector.

The volume of the EU’s assistance is not sufficient for African countries to gain real economic sovereignty on the conditions offered in Brussels. The 150 billion euros it has promised to mobilise for African needs by 2027 within the framework of GG breaks down to 20 euros per capita annually over the next five years. This pales in comparison to the EU’s assistance to Ukraine: nearly 80 billion euros since the end of February 2022 or about 2,500 euros per Ukrainian. Although seemingly attractive, the economic development model the EU is forcing on Africa can only be viable with much larger investment in the African economy and the termination of the practice of debt bondage, including the export of transnational companies’ profits earned in Africa.

The EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) is one of the key trade and political tools of EU neo-colonialism, which includes a preferential trade regime based on an “everything but arms” arrangement, which formally provides products from the least developed countries (LDCs) with duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market. The EU monitors the GSP on an ongoing basis. Based on the results of the monitoring, the preferences can be suspended or canceled at any time, in particular, for political reasons.

The current EU GSP Regulation No. 978/2012 dated October 25, 2012 entered into force on January 1, 2014 for a period of 10 years and will expire in January 2024. It will be replaced by a revised document which tightens “value-based” requirements for beneficiary countries.

Even under the preferential trade regime granted by the EU to African countries and amid statements by EU officials about the contribution of trade agreements between the EU and African countries to ensuring their economic growth in 2013-2022, the total EU-Africa trade balance in favour of the EU exceeded 83 billion euros. And this is just the tip of the iceberg revealing the scale of the EU’s systematic exploitation of the African continent, which relies on raw material exports from Africa and imposing EU-made products with high added value on Africans.

The EU policy aggravates the systemic problems facing Africa, a compelling example of which is the worsening food security situation in Africa which is unfolding amid the EU sanctions imposed on the Russian agro-industrial complex, which makes it difficult to export Russian fertiliser and grains to African countries in need. The EU is not going to reimburse African countries for economic damage from possible shortages of Russian fertiliser and grain supplies due to EU sanctions, or from eventual rupture of economic cooperation with Russia in other areas under Western pressure.

The West is using sanctions mechanisms to put political pressure on undesirable African countries, thus worsening the socioeconomic situation in conflict zones and exacerbating adverse humanitarian consequences. Attempts are being made to discredit bilateral cooperation between Russia and sanctioned countries through planting fake claims in the media about our alleged violations of the corresponding UN Security Council resolutions.

The EU’s unilateral restrictions, including those adopted in addition to the “corresponding” UN Security Council sanctions regimes, affect 10 African states, namely, Burundi, Congo, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

Taking advantage of the underdeveloped fishing industry even in relatively prosperous African states, the EU imposes predatory terms on them in “sustainable fishing” agreements, which allow EU fishing vessels to deplete their marine resources causing damage to the environment and the interests of local fishermen, though provisions on development assistance are formally included in the documents.

Clearly, the EU seeks to create in Africa parallel channels of interaction with NGOs that are on their payroll, which are being widely and purposefully used to lobby the EU’s interests and to implement project activities that meet its objectives. Financial assistance is often provided in circumvention of official bodies directly to NGOs, which is an act of blatant disrespect for the sovereignty of African states and undermines their internal political stability.

By allocating funds for holding electoral events, Brussels is trying to de facto exert direct control over domestic political processes in African countries, thus contributing to the transformation of the public administration system to fit its needs and the entrenching of the Western-oriented elites in power.

In terms of preparing local elections in the Central African Republic in 2023, the EU allocated 9 million euros to conduct an awareness campaign. At the same time, within its framework, the EU is promoting its narrative of gender equality and freedom of speech and assembly.

A statement issued by Information of the Russian Foreign Ministry

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