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AU-EU Summit – Africa is speaking with one voice. Is Europe listening?

Brussels – European and African leaders will meet for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, when the 6th African Union and European Union Summit takes place in Brussels on the 17-18 February. The Summit was initially convened for 2020 but postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and political tensions

The ONE Campaign is calling on leaders to agree to a package of measures that responds to African calls to increase the continent’s ability to manufacture vaccines and therapeutic medicines,  reducing its dependence on a global model that has allowed wealthy countries to monopolize access to these life-saving tools. EU leaders should also pledge $45 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), closing the gap to reaching the $100 billion target endorsed at the Africa summit on post-COVID-19 economic recovery, hosted by President Macron in May 2021.

Edwin Ikhuoria, ONE Executive Director in Africa, said: “When it comes to finally ending the pandemic, Africa is increasingly speaking with one voice – but is Europe listening? African leaders have called for greater access to vaccines to assure Africa’s “pharmaceutical sovereignty”. With less than 11% of the African population vaccinated, it is all too clear that the current rules of the game do not work for us. 

“The pandemic response has not only been a failure of partnership but also a failure of common sense – putting the recovery from the pandemic at risk everywhere. This Summit offers the opportunity to put deals on the table that bring Africa steps closer to be self-sufficient to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. This also presents an opportunity for the EU to share new resources, such as the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights, that will provide a vital boost to Africa’s economic recovery.

“Progress has been too slow so far – this should be the fight of our lives. The Summit this week must show that AU and EU leaders are ready to move from ideas to action and get one step closer to ending this pandemic everywhere.”

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, ONE Director in France, said:  “There’s work to do to re-establish trust lost during the pandemic. African governments were locked out of the market for vaccines by wealthy governments monopolising access and hoarding doses. Travel bans and the lack of progress on a temporary TRIPS waiver have also rubbed salt into wounds. 

With the French presidency of the EU, President Macron is in a unique position to relaunch this partnership and drive it to deliver results for people across both Europe and Africa. If European and African leaders can agree on new commitments and new resources, this summit presents the opportunity to rebuild trust and ensure a partnership of equals that could shape the relationship between our two continents.”


Note to editors:

African and European activists from the ONE Campaign, drafted an open letter to European and African leaders. The activists’ recommendations urge leaders for an action plan to put an end to the virus everywhere and solve the persistent divergence between Africa and Europe that the pandemic has exacerbated. 

The letter has been signed by over 19,000 citizens and has also been endorsed by François Hollande, former President of France, Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the UK and Aminata Touré, former Prime Minister of Senegal among many other influencing voices.