30 November 2017 (Press statement) – The AU EU Summit should have been a great opportunity for young people from Africa and the EU to exchange and listen to each other’s views. Scheduled to speak, and with speeches prepared, as part of the peace, security, and governance section of the Summit today, instead their contribution was ruled out on the grounds of “rules of procedure” after the objections of a number of delegations. Civil Society Organisations in a statement reacted angrily to the situation.

What happened?

This week, the fifth African Union-European Union Summit took place on 29-30 November in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Under the central theme “Investing in youth for a sustainable future”, African and European Heads of State and Government gathered together to reshape and deepen the EU-Africa partnership. This partnership is based on the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES), which specifically recalls the need to involve civil society in all processes to achieve the objectives developed by the partnership.

Through an extensive coordination process, representatives of civil society organisations from both Africa and Europe had prepared themselves to present their views and recommendations to Heads of States at the Summit – stressing the importance of fostering a space for participation of civil society organisations on both continents.

However, these representatives who had been invited by the EU and the AU to present their views at the Abidjan Summit were prevented from speaking at the last moment.

How did we react?

As a response to the regretful situation, CONCORD co-signed the media quote below *, that was sent to different news agencies. CONCORD welcomes the support received by EU Member States and institutions that encouraged civil society’s intervention. Sadly, this did not suffice.


For a partnership that has sold itself as being people-centred and with a summit focusing on the importance of investing in youth, it is outrageous that youth-focused groups and civil society organisations were prevented from speaking at the AU-EU Summit today, despite the fact that they were explicitly included in the agenda.

It is symptomatic of a process that has failed to accommodate meaningful participation for civil society, and makes a mockery the lofty rhetoric we have heard in Abidjan this week.

* The statement was supported by the following organisations:


CONCORD would also like to share the letter that was written on behalf of the Joint Steering Committee of European and African civil society organisations, condemning the censorship of civil society organisations from the 5th AU-EU Summit.
Our exclusion sets a sad precedent in the seventeen years of history of this partnership and confirms the worrying trend of shrinking space for civil society. It also shows that this phenomenon is particularly grave in Africa, as dramatically illustrated by the repression of the “Forum Citoyen” celebrated in Abidjan, some days ahead of the summit. We condemn these deliberate attacks to intimidate civil society organisations and silence our voices both within and outside institutions.

Read the full letter below.

For more information, we invite you to listen to our colleague from DSW reporting back, live from the event: