Mai’a Davis Cross’ Op-Ed titled “EU leaders should change tone when talking to rest of the world” indirectly raised an interesting point: when she mentions “The ultramodern African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, funded and build by China”. While China is known for its eagerness in providing visible infrastructure, the African Union’s organizational structure obviously resonates more with the EU’s than with China’s.
Today, the fourth EU-Africa Summit opened in Brussels. (While it seems to be referred to as such and not the EU-AU summit, leaders from both the EU and AU institutions are present). Various publications reflect interestingly on the PD aspect of it. On the one hand, an article republished on AllAfrica.com from The Inquirer (Monrovia) comments on the press release issued by the European Union Delegation to Liberia, which seems to be a rather thoughtful PD move: phrases such as “Leaders from Africa and the European Union are to discuss as equal partners”, “the everyday concerns of our citizens”; “improve the quality of hope of our population” are repeated throughout (http://allafrica.com/stories/201404021045.html?viewall=1). On the other hand there is a buzz about Mugabe’s boycott due to the EU’s refusal to issue his wife a visa (http://www.news24.com/Africa/Zimbabwe/EU-AU-summit-Mugabes-wife-not-invited-20140325) and Jacob Zuma’s boycott due to the perceived “cherry-picking” of African leaders eligible to attend (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/eu-and-africa-hold-summit-to-boost-ties/2014/04/02/390c56ce-ba4b-11e3-80de-2ff8801f27af_story.html) , reflecting not-so-equal partner relations.
Back to Cross’ Op-Ed, I think that beyond the content aspects (increasing political cooperation and economic strategies), it would make sense for the AU and EU to reflect on and learn from each other’s successes and failures in terms of organizational processes. It would not only be constructive for both, but if done transparently and wisely it could be a smarter PD move as well than just letting disgruntled actors vent on international media.