ADDIS ABABA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held a ‘fruitful’ talk with Charles Michel, European Council president ahead of the sixth Europe-Africa Leaders Summit in Brussels this week.
“We had a fruitful discussion about EU-Ethiopia relations as well as regional and continental issues of mutual significance,” tweeted the Prime minister after the meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
Abiy and his delegation are currently in Belgium to take part in the 6th African Union-European leaders Summit.
His meeting with Michel is one of several bilateral discussions the PM will hold with leaders of European Countries and international institutions on the margins of the summit.
Civil society activities, however, warn it risks entrenching inequality between the two continents unless deliberate steps are taken to rebalance relations.
In a two-day webinar ahead of the EU-AU summit, activists heard that key priorities for Africa, including debt relief and progressive trade rules, are unlikely to be met under the current negotiation framework, reported the East African Newspaper.
Jane Nalunga, an expert with Seatini, an NGO which works to promote fair-trade in Eastern and Southern Africa, accused the EU of “balkanization” by “forcing” individual African countries to sign bilateral Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA).
These EPAs, she said, undermine the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AcFTA) which came into effect in 2021 but is yet to fully get off the ground.
She cited an example of the East African Community where, instead of negotiating with the regional trade bloc, the EU had strong-armed first Kenya, and then Tanzania, to sign bilateral EPAs with it.
With its two largest economies already in hook with the EU, EAC member states are unable to collectively negotiate better terms, Naluga said.