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EU Committee: EU and Africa

Volume 687: debated on Thursday 30 November 2006

rose to move, That this House takes note of the report of the European Union Committee on the European Union and Africa: Towards a Strategic Partnership. (34th Report, HL Paper 206, Session 2005-06)

The noble Lord said: My Lords, for the convenience of the House, I shall speak also to the second report on the Order Paper, which I am also due to move. In May 2004, the African Union started to attract the attention of Sub-Committee C of the European Union Committee, which carried out this inquiry. There was a desire to know more about the African Union and how it related to the European Union. The decision to proceed was postponed until autumn last year when the Commission produced a draft strategy for Africa, which was followed by a paper from the High Representative, Doctor Solana. The European Council then agreed a substantial document in December 2005.

I thank the members on the sub-committee who conducted this inquiry. We also had the assistance of a special adviser, Alex Ramsbotham, who was able to share with us his first-hand knowledge of Africa and who assisted with the preparation of the report. I also place on record our special thanks to the sub-committee’s then Clerk, Doctor Emily Baldock, who prepared the majority of the report, which is in a form that not only covers the scope of the inquiry but is in a very readable form and for interested parties is a work of reference of the different initiatives, organisations and policies involving Africa at this time. My thanks are also due to her for her assistance in the preparation of the follow-up report.

We are grateful to our witnesses, including the Secretary of State for International Development, Mr Hilary Benn; the Minister for Africa, the noble Lord, Lord Triesman; Elmar Brok, of the European Parliament; and Doctor Solana, who was—as always with this committee of your Lordships’ House—generous with his time. I also thank the other witnesses who contributed evidence, both orally and in writing. The report notes that we were unable, despite very considerable efforts, to obtain direct evidence from African Government representatives or other organisations. Nevertheless it was pleasing to note that when we presented the report to a seminar of invited participants in Brussels, two ambassadors from Africa attended.

The sub-committee decided to take the strategy as given and to concentrate on how it was to be implemented. The strategy itself sets out the areas in which the European Union can support African efforts to build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future. Key to all the proposals is African ownership and responsibility. Chapter 1 of the report sets out the background. Chapter 2 and the following chapters look at the implication that the EU is the natural partner for Africa and the building of an EU-Africa partnership; asks whether Europe can deliver on its promises; and examines the problems with development assistance, governance and human rights, and peace and security. The final chapter examines how the partnership can be realised.

Given the international focus on Africa in 2005, we considered that the right policies to help Africa were in place. What was needed was fulfilment of the promises. Our inquiry looked not into what Europe should do for Africa, but into what it could in practice achieve. Our central question was: how can the European Union deliver on the commitments made? There is no doubt that the European Union and its member states are well equipped to make significant differences to sustainable development in Africa, but a number of challenges remain to be met by the Union, its member states and Africa.

The committee was convinced that there was a role for the European Union. Many of the member states play an important role in Africa’s development, and will no doubt continue to do so, even without the intervention of the European Union. However, despite obvious sensitivities, a number of the western European nations retain close ties with their former colonies. We believe that the European Union is a natural partner for Africa, and it has particular geographic proximity to the continent. Trade and investment with and from Europe have always been of importance to Africa. The former colonial past has a direct impact on migration—large numbers of people speak English or French, so Europe is their natural destination. If the strategy can improve people’s living conditions, which currently send them in search of a better life, that will help to alleviate the problem of mass illegal immigration from Africa into Europe, as well as helping Africa itself.

European member states must see the benefits of a coherent approach to Africa—a stronger voice when dealing with recalcitrant African leaders, more effective aid delivered, and well focused use of resources. In turn, the African nations have to come together to help each other. The European Union can assist in the process of regionalisation, through both its example and offering direct advice and assistance.

The European Union will work first and foremost with the African Union, whose principal aims—peace and security, democratic principles, sustainable development and co-ordination between the various regional economic communities—reflect the European Union’s own values and strategy. To assist the African Union, the European Union must first understand it. The institutions of the African Union mirror those of the European Union, but we should not assume that the African Union is comparable with the European Union. The relationship with member states is different, and it is in a completely different state of development. Key to the strategy is the building of an EU-Africa partnership. No longer is it acceptable for the European Union, or indeed any state, to seek to impose solutions. Africa must contribute to the process as an equal partner. The process is slow, however, for which both sides bear some responsibility.

The first EU-Africa summit was held in 2000, over six years ago. It set out to strengthen European Union-Africa relations; to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law; to help in the attainment of the millennium development goals; and to strengthen the political, economic and socio-cultural relations between the two. The second summit was originally planned for Lisbon in 2003. It has still not been held, mainly because of the continuing problem of Zimbabwe. Dialogue is essential to the continuing relationship between the two continents. Some of our witnesses believed that a summit was vital for the success of the strategy—the endorsement of African heads of state and Governments being of critical importance. This means that the African Union must deal with the problem of Zimbabwe. It is an opportunity for the African Union to take a strong stand against a leader whose actions violate democratic principles and the rule of law. The European Union should strongly support the African Union, but we believe that the ultimate responsibility for Zimbabwe must rest with other African nations.

Aside from Zimbabwe, much has been achieved in terms of productive dialogue between the European Union and the African Union. Contacts have prospered between the two—between officials at regional level, between EU heads of mission and the AU in Addis Ababa, in Brussels with the African heads of mission and, not least, between the African Union and the European Union Commissions. Recently, ministerial troikas between the African Union and the European Union have been instituted and the European Union must not ignore either the ACP—the African-Caribbean partnership, although it is not exclusively African—or the regional organisations in Africa; although, unfortunately, not all of those organisations are coterminous with the AU’s regional demarcations.

A highly significant development that we note in this report has already made its appearance as a result of the strategy—the joint implementation matrix. That name does not trip off the tongue and a better one must be found, although I have not yet done so. This arose out of meetings between the European Union and the African Union and covers peace, security, governance, trade and key development issues. It is a joint effort to show what progress is being made and who is going to do what. The African side has made a full contribution to the preparation. It received approval at a troika meeting in Vienna in May of this year and is to be followed up every three months. The strategy itself should be considered a living and evolving document and should be reviewed and monitored every year.

In this report we state our belief that we have the objective of partnership and that we have the partners. The question remains: can we deliver? To achieve success, the obvious rivalries between the different directorates-general must be resolved, as must the differences between the Commission and the council. We do not believe that the EU institutions are yet co-ordinating their actions to achieve the best results in foreign policy or development. That is partly due to a lack of clarity of competences, but also, sadly, some lack of commitment to work together. The matrix could prove a useful tool in that regard, by stating clearly where the relevant EU responsibilities for particular proposals or policies lie. As I shall mention, there is some progress and we have some reason to be optimistic.

The same may be said of the European Union institutions’ relations with member states. The strategy will not replace the efforts of individual states or those of other international organisations. Only by co-ordinating its efforts can the international community meet Africa’s needs and ensure that it plays a full part on the global stage. The UK Government look to the Africa Partnership Forum, of which the European Commission is a member, to monitor the implementation of the G8 commitments. Earlier this year, the Prime Minister announced another panel with similar objectives, to be chaired by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I hope that that is not a duplication of effort or a reluctance to acknowledge that this is an area where the European Union and its Commission might well be able to assist.

I turn to development aid, governance, peace and security. The delivery of aid is an area in which co-ordination can make the biggest difference. Without co-ordination there is a risk of duplicating programmes, that favoured countries will receive more than their fair share, that bureaucracy and red tape will increase and, most importantly, some of the poorest people will be overlooked. Member states should allow the Commission and its delegations, which themselves need strengthening in terms of people and resources, to take the lead in some countries. In others, member states should take the lead, but be willing to share their expertise. We look to the United Kingdom, which promoted this strategy, to set an example.

It is not just the co-ordination of actions that matters, but the adoption of a coherent approach to the delivery of aid. We support the Commission’s increased use of budget support. Concerns are often expressed about its use, but we believe that transparency and accountability are essential in the delivery of aid. Managed properly, budget support can help national parliamentarians see where the money is being spent in their own countries. In the report, we suggest that the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NePAD, might want to consider devising a programme to help African parliamentarians have some oversight of spending. Under the government and economic management assistance programme implemented in Liberia, there is a form of budget support that involves an international representative being placed in the central government of recipient states who, through the financial institutions, controls the flow of money in and out. That programme seemed to us to be worthy of further examination in other places.

Governance, democracy and human rights are core elements of the strategy, and the primary responsibility must rest with African states assisted by African institutions. The European Union can support those efforts by helping Africans develop the African peer review mechanism, an important Africa-led model for progress in governance in Africa. Provisions already exist under the Cotonou agreement to suspend aid in certain circumstances. If the commitment to human rights, governance and democracy is to be more than mere rhetoric, the European Union must be prepared to make robust use of the Article 96 provisions in Cotonou, but Europe in turn needs to understand that good governance may not mean precisely the models to which we in Europe are accustomed. However, there are core requirements: the rule of law, independent courts and the protection of individual rights. The report draws attention to the role that China is playing in Africa. The European Union’s desire to promote human rights, democracy and good governance can be undermined by China’s apparent lack of interest in those areas and its concentration on economic advantage.

In terms of the strategy, our report ends where the strategy begins; that is, with peace and security. Without lasting peace, there can be no meaningful development. ESDP missions to Darfur and Kinshasa are examples of efforts to promote peace and security. The new European Union battle groups may have a role to play in the right situations. The report goes into some detail on the Darfur situation because of the role of the African Union. It was an ambitious initiative, but was desperately under-funded and under-resourced. The main instrument for funding peace and security is the African Peace Facility, funded from the European Development Fund. Despite the use of development moneys for that purpose, the report supports its continued use under the 10th EDF. We consider the European Union well placed to act in developing the Africa Standby Force. Reliance will be placed on the existing activities of member states, which provide the training, advice and logistical support. Co-operation and co-ordination of the EU’s capabilities in this area must take place with the United Nations, the new Peacebuilding Commission and NATO. That is essential if effort is not to be wasted.

Assuming that the political will to act exists, can we afford the strategy and do we have the resources? The primary source of funding will continue to be the EDF, but there are new financial instruments for the common foreign and security policy and other possible sources of funding may be appropriate. The strategy will also depend on member states’ aid commitments. Are the commitments of the G8 being implemented far enough? The commitment by the European Union and its member states to increase aid by 2015 is welcome, but some states are lagging behind and will have to work hard to catch up. The European Commission will have to review the process and if necessary put forward ideas to ensure that the targets are met.

Our conclusions on the strategy were that the European Union is right to emphasise the principle of African ownership and its policies but that divisions between Council and Commission and the European Union and member states have to be addressed; that co-operation and coherence between the institutions, member states and other organisations must be improved; that pressure to implement reforms of governance must be maintained by the European Union and the African Union; and that the commitments on funding must be met. If the European Union cannot successfully implement the strategy, the achievement of the millennium development goals and the aims of the strategy will remain in doubt and, despite good intentions, we will fail the people of Africa.

I turn briefly to the follow-up report, which was published following the response of Her Majesty's Government. I am sure that members of my committee will particularly appreciate the presence on the government Front Bench of the Lord President who will bring her considerable experience on these matters to bear when she replies for the Government. Of course, we want to acknowledge the work which the Minister for Africa, the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, puts in. I know that we would wish to welcome to the opposition Front Bench my noble friend Lady Chalker, who also has great experience in these matters.

The Government’s response was largely supportive of our recommendations but a number of questions remain. There is no resolution to the problems surrounding the second Africa summit and the Zimbabwe problem has to be addressed. Do the Government have any constructive suggestions? We regret that the Government did not support the annual review of the strategy. Do the Government support the suggestion that there should be a major review of member states’ commitments to development aid? On coherence, co-ordination and co-operation, the Government agreed with the committee that improvements were needed, but as between Council and Commission, emphasised the need,

“not to combine the distinct roles”.

Of course that is understood, but so long as the legalities are not broken, it should not be used as an excuse not to support pragmatic and practical ways forward.

We certainly would like to know the Government’s view about China. Its influence is growing all the time and there is a clear case for a strong and united European foreign policy. The follow-up report has taken the opportunity of bringing the House up to date on Darfur and the elections in the DRC. It also refers to two interesting documents; namely, the results of the European Union-Africa ministerial meeting in Brazzaville on 10 October and the joint progress report of the Commission and Council.

The Brazzaville communiqué shows welcome signs of how the European Union-Africa partnership is developing and how the matrix is being kept up to date. The Commission and Council paper is welcome just for what it is—namely, a joint paper. It is indicative of the European Union intention to keep Africa among its priorities and develop policies in a co-ordinated and coherent way. This is welcome and supports the committee’s view that the strategy has the potential to be a great success for the European Union and Africa. I commend the report and the Motion to the House. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House takes note of the report of the European Union Committee on the European Union and Africa: Towards a Strategic Partnership. (34th Report, HL Paper 206, Session 2005-06).—(Lord Bowness.)

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, for his introduction of this very important report. Before I go further, I was particularly cheered up today to see the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker of Wallasey, on the opposition Front Bench. We are old sparring partners from the other place, where we used to be involved in transport matters. Surprisingly, one might say, we were old allies when she was a Minister of State at the Foreign Office in the fight against the South African Government in the apartheid days. I had better stop there in case I damage her prospects for ever.

This is a substantial and comprehensive report, and a very detailed investigation into the delivery of aid to Africa and how we might improve it. Africa faces many difficulties, not least instability, failure to provide good governance, corruption and the most ferocious of health problems: AIDS. But there is a tremendous amount of good will towards Africa, which was demonstrated by the Commission for Africa report, published in March 2005. It was universally received as potentially a great way forward. The report recognised that development is a two-way process and that African countries had to be at the forefront of planning. Unless African Governments were involved from the planning stage, most projects would fail in their entirety. That is not a new message; it was expressed about 50 years ago by an African agronomist, René Dumont, from southern Africa. He laid out the number of projects which failed in Africa because they were directed from the metropolitan centre of the country without taking into account what local people felt.

We are still trying to get to grips with the question of ownership and the practical means of delivery and transparency. We must bear in mind from the beginning the aims of aid. First, it should be delivered quickly; secondly, it should quickly reach its target; and, thirdly, it should be done with the minimum of bureaucracy, consistent with transparency. Those three differing objectives must be held together, even though that is difficult to do.

The report recognises that the problems in Africa cause great difficulties, and we have to find a way round that. I must confess that, in going through the report, my mind was reeling in my attempt to understand fully what was happening. We have NePAD, for example—the New Partnership for Africa’s Development—and the African Peer Review mechanism, which is part of NePAD and which we welcome. Perhaps I may say as an aside that I am not entirely happy that NePAD is now to be absorbed into the African Union, but that is the choice of its members. I should prefer to see it as an independent organisation free of the political machinations of the African Union, but we just have to accept that.

We also have the regional economic committees, the matrix, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, and a strong call for an EU strategy to promote coherence and avoid the duplication of effort. The strong argument is for coherence. It is suggested that there should be one European Union body to bring the whole thing together but, frankly, I think that that would be a bit of a nightmare. We are in grave danger of having so many reviews and so many committees overseeing this and that and looking at strategy and planning that we will spend all our time on those committees and nothing will ever get done. It is a refrain that one hears from time to time about reviews in this country. We say that the health service should be under review but the bureaucrats say, “We can’t do anything because we’re too busy filling out forms and answering to the Government”. We do not really want a European strategy where everyone is looking over their shoulder, worrying about reporting to one another, and not keeping their eyes on the fact that we must get aid quickly to those who need it.

I welcome the idea that there should be a mechanism for ensuring that each country lives up to its aid pledges. It is no use saying that you will provide the money unless you know that it will be delivered. I believe that in this country we have a mechanism for that. We have the International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Act, which started as a Private Member’s Bill, introduced by Tom Clarke in June 2005. I believe that it has tremendous potential. It places an obligation on the Government to report to Parliament once a year about what is happening. I suspect that, rather than having some grand coalition to see that other countries are delivering, we should get the other countries to put into their legislation the same kind of provision as we have under that transparency Act. We do not need a grand coalition so long as there is a mechanism for transparency.

As stated by the noble Lord, Lord Bowness—I am sure that it will be repeated by others—what is happening in Zimbabwe is a real problem. It is suggested that the delay in setting up the second EU/African summit was due largely to the weak response from the African Union over Zimbabwe. The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) has considered the situation in Zimbabwe and has been quite damning in its resolutions on the situation there. The trouble is that, although that has been perfectly clear, the African Union has not faced up to its responsibilities; it has not endorsed the committee’s report.

How are we going to proceed with Zimbabwe? It is incredibly important that it is dealt with, irrespective of whether it is tied in with a common strategy. It is true that the quiet diplomacy of President Thabo Mbeki does not appear to bear any fruit. There is a dilemma about how we should respond. I do not think it actually says so in the report. The implication in some parts of the report is that progress on the development of the strategy should in some way be linked to how the African Union behaves over Zimbabwe. To link the two is a very tempting prospect, but it is a real dilemma.

Perhaps we underestimate the way in which the Zimbabwean situation and Mr Mugabe’s brutal rhetoric about colonialism will bear fruit. About 12 months ago, I was part of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation to South Africa. While there, we met the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, which is more or less equivalent to our Select Committees. We were getting on fine until the issue of Zimbabwe was raised. The chairman responded with such ferocity that I was really set back on my heels. He was absolutely furious. He said quite clearly that we had to learn that colonialism is dead and that we should not interfere in what is happening in Zimbabwe. Admittedly, at the end of the committee session, several members of the committee, whom I have known for many years, said that the chairman did not really represent the opinion of the committee. I asked why they did not say so; the fact is they did not.

There is a real lack of enthusiasm in South Africa, which I would not have expected, given its own record and that of the African National Congress. I would have expected the African National Congress and the South African Government to be much more open and fiercer in their stance about what is happening in Zimbabwe. I say with regret that I do not buy the proposition sometimes put forward that Mugabe is the oldest of the African leaders and, therefore, by tradition Africans always bow to the elder of the tribe. That is not good enough. It is not good enough for people to say that it is up to Zimbabwe to solve its own problems.

I recognise that in South Africa the problems were solved in the main by the people of the country; they were the ones who made the greatest effort. But that does not mean we should not interfere. Recently, I reminded one of my colleagues that no one in this country said to us, “You must not interfere in what is happening in South Africa”. They asked us to help; if they had not asked us, we would not have been there. Therein lies the rub. There is no coherent call coming from within Zimbabwe.

Earlier this week, I attended a meeting with Archbishop Pius Ncube from Bulawayo. He had a very sad and depressing view. They do not know what to do. There is no coherent leadership there, so it makes life doubly difficult. Lest anyone make any mistake about it, I am not for one moment suggesting that we stop saying that what is happening in Zimbabwe is wrong. I am not saying for a second that we should do other than condemn what is happening and call on the British Government, the South African Government and the rest of the African Union to take action before the situation worsens.

What is happening in Darfur, for example, makes what is happening in Zimbabwe seem a bagatelle. That is not true. One cannot measure human rights in that way. Human rights in Zimbabwe are slipping deeper and deeper into the chasm. If Zimbabwe reaches the cataclysmic level of violence that is taking place in Darfur, it will be too late. I beg my friends in the African Union to speak up.

The report concludes that a proper EU strategy towards Africa would be of great benefit to the people of Africa. We must remember that that is the objective of the exercise. We must also ensure that aid gets through quickly, is focused and is for the benefit of the people. This report is a major contribution to making that work.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, for initiating this debate on a clearly important report. I shall also talk about Zimbabwe, in particular the EU sanctions agreed in 2002 against Zimbabwean officials and government personnel, and precluding personal and official travel in and from that country. It has long been a concern of mine, which I have raised in previous debates. I am grateful for a letter from the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, in answer to a question, in which he unequivocally says that we will push for the targeted measures to be maintained. That is a great relief.

In 2003 I was working with an organisation called the Redress Trust, an anti-torture organisation. Mr Henry Dowa was a chief inspector at Harare Central Police Station, an accomplished and brutal torturer. We found out that he was a member of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) working with CIVPOL, an organisation that trains policemen. He had clearly been sent there by President Mugabe as a reward for doing a good job.

We unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the UK Government to arrest him, particularly since we thought it likely that he would be travelling back from Kosovo via London, either to go on leave or when his term of office came to an end. We tried to persuade the Government to arrest him for crimes against humanity, under the UN Convention against Torture, which imposes an obligation on states to act on such serious crimes, using the umbrella of universal jurisdiction or customary law. We had collected sworn affidavits from two of his victims, one a bona fide refugee in the UK—with all the rights that that implies—the other a dual British-Zimbabwean citizen.

The Attorney-General’s office wrote back to us and said that we were not dealing with British citizens, so they could not do anything about it—“Let it be”. I wrote to the UNMIK High Representative in Kosovo, Mr Steiner, pointing out the record and telling him about the sworn affidavits of Mr Dowa’s victims. Eventually, Mr Steiner wrote back that he was regrettably unable to act because he had scarce resources and, indeed, his job was really to seek out Serbian war criminals, not to arrest those who might have committed crimes against humanity—I am not quoting him exactly.

I then wrote to the UN Secretary-General, which I thought appropriate at that stage, pointing out that the UN had a strong obligation to ensure that it did not enable torturous regimes to reward their own people with what is seen as quite a prize: being able to travel abroad and have tax-free allowances. Eventually, I got a reply from someone in the secretary-general’s office, who pointed out that Mr Dowa had returned to Zimbabwe. He had clearly been tipped off, and I suppose the only small gratification was that we had curtailed his tax-free allowances and stay in Kosovo. However, the UN Secretary-General’s office made it quite clear that they would insist upon a proper procedure to investigate the case, and that proper action should be taken. That is fine, and one would expect that to be said. As things are in Zimbabwe, however, that is a very vague and faint hope. Of course, nothing has happened since.

It is now reliably reported that Mr Dowa is once again practising his brutal trade, and was implicated in the most recent torture of trade union officials in Harare. No one did anything—not the UK Government, the UNMIK forces or the UN Secretary-General—and nothing really has happened since, except for a report by the Redress Trust, which records the following paragraph from the Herald, a Mugabe-supporting newspaper in Harare:

“We had to prematurely call back one officer from the contingent you are going to replace in Kosovo not for misconduct but because he had been subjected to stressful treatment after a group called REDRESS had falsely accused him of torturing suspects here at home. We are not in the habit of torturing people in this country and allegations are always made now and then”.

I retell the story because there is a good case for sanctions not only to be maintained but possibly extended when the EU reviews them after five years, in February 2007. I ask the Government to see what they can do to persuade the EU to extend sanctions against officials and government members by precluding recruitment to any EU peace or other mission and to make representation to the UN to ensure that it does likewise. If we are serious about getting a loud and clear message to Mr Mugabe, we must use what means are at our disposal.

The noble Lord, Lord Hughes of Woodside, has already mentioned a potential EU/Africa summit. There is a great deal of discussion about it. I understand that at least two EU member states would be quite keen to have sanctions against Mugabe and any of his officials dropped so that the summit could take place in one of the EU member states—one of them is Portugal. I am very worried that it takes only one country to veto a decision on sanctions for them to be dropped. It might be possible for either one of those two countries, or indeed another country, to prevail upon the new accession states to veto the sanctions against Zimbabwe. That would mean that Mr Mugabe could once again strut the international stage, with the added honour, as it were, of having sanctions against his country and his officials dropped. That would be a great tragedy.

It is important to conclude that we are not talking about trade agreements but about a regime which is murdering people day in day out, and in increasing numbers. Unless we can use the means at our disposal—in particular, now we are talking about sanctions—there is some question about how complicit we are in this kind of human rights abuse.

My Lords, as a member of the sub-committee throughout this very timely inquiry—as was my noble friend Lord Hannay—I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, for his great courtesy in chairing the committee for the past four years, and our clerk, Dr Emily Baldock, who has now moved on to higher things. I thought that the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, was excellent. I will try to avoid going over the same ground.

I should like to say a word about our self-interest and moral obligation vis-à-vis Africa, because that is the basis for our analysis. We are concerned about where some of the present trends in Africa are taking us. I should like to quote from a recent analysis by the European Defence Agency, to which the UK is a party, that looks ahead to the next 20 years. It states:

“The regions neighbouring Europe will face particular challenges. High fertility should see Africa’s population growing faster than anywhere else—up by 48% to 1.3 billion by 2025—despite AIDS. The average African’s age is projected to be 22. Desertification may increasingly concentrate this young population in urban centres (11 African mega-cities of 5 million plus by 2025)—many of them without hope of employment. The implications for despair, humanitarian disaster and migratory pressures are obvious”.

I draw attention to the mention of migratory pressures at the end of that quotation. That is why I say that self-interest and moral obligation go together here. That is why that quotation rang lots of bells. A time bomb is ticking away. That is why, if for no other reason, we need a very strong European engagement—it may be, in close co-operation with China, a point to which I shall return. I echo all the remarks about African solutions for African problems—African ownership, in the current usage—albeit in a context where direct foreign investment will require people to be clear about the circumstances that do and do not engender that investment. By the way, that is not just investment in raw materials, because people in those cities will be looking to build businesses through micro-finance, the cities already containing more than half of Africa's population.

Overseas development aid is of course vital, but we cannot unilaterally solve the problem just by throwing more money at it. Such assistance, as in all cycles of dependency—we can give only the analogy, however imperfect, of parts of the United Kingdom—can do little to change the underlying dynamic.

I also echo the EDA’s analysis that demographic development is an issue of great importance. Population growth rates currently far exceed what is compatible with increasing living standards or meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Reducing the number of offspring per woman from five, six or seven to nearer the replacement rate will not happen by some magic virtuous circle. Perhaps we need to be more courageous in putting that problem on agendas. It has become something of a taboo subject and the appalling conditions, low expectation of life and infant mortality require that to be a more explicit issue.

Economic development requires productivity growth. It requires growth in the total rate of employment. Africa is falling behind the rest of the world rather than catching up at present. We have not only the problem of low investment—10 per cent of the world's population getting only 1 per cent of the world's foreign direct investment. It would take Africa 10 years or so of growth per head of 7 per cent per annum in real terms to get anywhere near the MDGs. The statistics on the first main page of the report state that in the past decade the economic growth per head in real terms has been only 1.38 per cent, lower than in Europe. The total growth rates of approaching 4 per cent are the arithmetical consequence of adding up the growth rate of population of 2.32 per cent, which is far too high, doubling every generation, and its consequence for slums and unemployment. Against that background, to say simply “cut poverty now” is to ignore the long haul that is entailed. It takes a long time to get the gross national product per head to anything like European standards, but we must do all we can to get those policies in place.

It is in that context that I come to the indispensable role of the European Union, which is parallel to the role of the African Union. Building up the credibility of the African Union is indispensable because the African Union has already become the inescapable dialogue partner of the European Union. This is not seriously challenged, and no one should now underestimate the value of the EU/AU dialogue set in motion by the European Council under the British presidency a year ago.

I was in Algeria recently—I am secretary of the All-Party Group on Algeria—which pointed out to me that it has a senior AU commissioner, the commissioner for security and development. It is partly because of this sense of ownership of the AU that Algeria is totally behind the pressure on Khartoum in relation to Darfur. That is one example. Incidentally, it also demonstrates why it is fallacious for people to think that north Africa is somehow not interested in the rest of Africa. It is, because of migration and the possibility of huge problems in north Africa if there are further disasters south of the Sahara. Ownership of the African Union is rather like the schizophrenia that we have about ownership of the European Union. I noted that the European Union’s special representative to the African Union is Mr Timothy Clarke, the brother of Charles Clarke. On that basis, we should take more ownership of the European Union.

I do, however, have a quibble with the Government’s comment, in an otherwise rather well thought-out response on the AU’s role, that we should,

“remember that not all countries in Africa belong to the African Union”.

To the best of my knowledge—I stand to be corrected—this is true solely of Morocco and its policy on Western Sahara. Although this is highly regrettable, it is getting things rather out of perspective to imply other than that the African Union is representative.

The point has also been taken that the African Union needs a great deal of institutional support. The initial €55 million, agreed in Addis Ababa this October, is very timely. One example of the AU’s many resource deficiencies is the Darfur peace agreement follow-up. In principle, the AU is the custodian of the DPA, but only one full-time professional staff member is working on the Sudan at its Addis Ababa headquarters. The DPA implementation team in Khartoum has only three senior professionals.

I shall say a word about the architecture of the relationship between NePAD and the APRM, which are now under one umbrella, as my noble friend Lord Hughes of Woodside has said. They are not, and certainly should not be, in competition. This relationship must acknowledge that the expertise in the Johannesburg area—NePAD is located between Johannesburg and Pretoria—is several times greater than that in the Addis Ababa area. Given the nature of Africa, Ethiopia is in some respects a very typical African country. Yet the part of Africa that is nearer to embracing the globalised world is South Africa. There was a danger of some tension between the two. The question of accountability and again of ownership by African heads of government is perhaps more positive than my noble friend believes. There is a degree of operational independence and certainly no one is interfering with the African peer review mechanism; that is my take on the particular problem. So we and the African nations in the AU must build on the credibility of both bodies and on the nature of the dialogue between them.

The spectre of China has been mentioned. It is said that China is undercutting some of the EU’s principles in the areas of governance, the rule of law, the environment and social standards—all this despite protestations to the contrary made by the Chinese. I should like to give chapter and verse on that. Only two weeks ago a huge jamboree was held in Peking. I say “jamboree” because apparently each president had his own anagram sewn onto his silk pyjamas. The Chinese do have their own unique system of governance, if I may put it that way. Given their huge need for raw materials, they are now putting billions-worth of investment in the form of infrastructure, manufacturing capacity and so forth, into Africa. In many cases African countries are to some degree becoming client states.

The dilemma was summed up in the front-page story in yesterday’s Financial Times. The president of the European Investment Bank said that the Chinese banks, with whom the EIB is in competition,

“don’t bother about social and human rights conditions”,

and are snatching projects from under the EIB’s nose. He goes on to say that:

“It’s clear that China is trying to build closer links with Africa and build privileged access to the resources of this continent”.

A further point on that is that this may be short-termism and not necessarily an indication of a long-term commitment to Africa. That could also form part of the dialogue we ought to have. I am rather disturbed by the conclusion of the president of the EIB:

“We have to consider the degree of conditionality which we want to impose”.

In other words, he wants to dilute the sort of principles that we have set out in Europe. I cannot think of a more succinct demonstration of the danger of creating a paradigm which is the opposite of that in our own report. Finally on this, I think that Her Majesty’s Government should be promoting some sort of trilateral dialogue with the Chinese and we should test to the limit the critique that we are destined to undermine each other.

A good deal of progress has been made in the past year and I think that we can look forward with a degree of confidence. I was privileged to be in a position to observe the second round of the very difficult elections held in Congo. In some parts of Africa things are beginning to move in the right direction. I am sure that the policy must be to go forward even though rogue states such as Zimbabwe are difficult to deal with. My final sentence on that is that while nobody is talking about dropping sanctions, we do not want the Chinese to be able to have a dialogue at heads of government level with Africa and we are not able to, so we must find a way of solving the problem. I think that the proposal from Brazzaville on a joint strategy is very encouraging.

My Lords, I join my colleague on the sub-committee, the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, in thanking our former chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, for his patience and the determination with which he handled an extremely lengthy and quite complex report.

The report we are discussing today covers a massive field. It is an attempt by the European Union, composed of 25, soon to be 27, countries and by Africa, with some 55, to forge a strategic partnership designed to cover a range of policies from development to security and from human rights to good governance. The complexity of all this, in part, derives from the nature of the institutions at either end of the proposed partnership. In neither case is the allocation of policy responsibilities straightforward or even, in some cases, very clear. In neither is it static, as both the European Union and the African Union are in a constant process of institutional evolution—sometimes by conscious substantial changes of responsibility and sometimes simply by the application of pragmatic common sense. Hence the proliferation of acronyms and the need to explain the institutional diversities at both ends of this equation, for which, as a co-author of the report, I offer some apologies to the normal reader.

No one could say that the proposed strategic partnership lacks ambition—but is it practicable? Will it be likely to add value to what is already taking place bilaterally between the countries of Europe and those of Africa? What is the capacity of both the EU and Africa to act collectively, to deliver results and to avoid confusion and duplication? What are Africa’s needs for which it would welcome an external contribution and is the EU in a position to meet them? What about the growing role of China? Several speakers have referred to that. Will it cut across and undermine the objectives being pursued by the European Union? These are the main questions that we set out to address in the report we are debating today. There are others we decided not to cover, most importantly that of trade which had already been reported on by the EU Select Committee in the context of the Doha development round of multilateral trade negotiations.

On the big question of the practicability of forging an effective strategic partnership between the EU and Africa, our answer really had to be that given by Prime Minister Chou En-Lai of China to a question about the French revolution—“too soon to say”. It really is not possible at this early stage to state categorically that the approach is going to work. What can be said is that both parts of the equation are committing substantial effort and resources to making it work and seem to be making progress both in the institutional handling of the dialogue and in the achievement of practical objectives. Much of course will depend on the development of the African Union, a much younger entity than the European Union and one whose predecessor, the Organisation for African Unity, was notorious for its ineffectiveness.

One can note with some concern that in the coming year at least two African leaders who have done most to set the African Union on its feet—President Mbeki of South Africa and President Obasanjo of Nigeria—will be quitting the political scene. Strong political leadership from the larger member states is as important in Africa as it is in Europe. It seems clear from past experience that a fragmented and divided Africa will be less well equipped to confront the problems facing it and, given Europe’s undoubted stake in an Africa which is achieving stability and overcoming poverty, it must be in our interest that its efforts to find collective responses succeed. We should thus regard the success of the African Union as a European interest which we should do our best to assist.

But can the European Union as such add value to what its member states are already doing? Answering that question is particularly difficult for a country like our own, which has had a long, if not entirely untroubled, relationship with Africa, and which has been in the vanguard of recent international efforts to mobilise external support for Africa. The same siren tunes of national interest and pride of authorship play too in Paris, perhaps even more strongly. I believe that it would be wrong to listen to them. The European Union brings together a large number of European countries, many of which have hitherto had no tradition of working with Africa and many of which have devoted few resources to that continent, and harnesses their collective resources to objectives which are entirely consistent with the policies we ourselves have been pursuing.

Viewed from the other end, Africa has much to gain from dealing with a properly concerted European effort, rather than with a multiplicity of different national efforts shot through with traditional rivalries. Our own Government will need to check a certain ambivalence that we detected between pride in our national programmes and working more closely with our European partners. The opportunity for Britain to play a leading role in shaping European Union policy towards Africa seemed to us one that should be grasped without ambiguity or afterthought.

It seems clear from all the evidence we took that Africa’s needs go far beyond the straightforward provision of more resources and better programmes to deal with poverty, malnutrition and pandemic diseases such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis—important though all those requirements are. They relate, too, to the phenomenon of state failure, which has afflicted Africa more than any other part of the world, and which throws up complex issues of security policy and post-conflict peace-building. In countries either slipping towards state failure or just emerging from it, the normal prescriptions of development aid are quite simply inapplicable.

The African Union is just beginning to develop some capacity and some of the instruments for handling state failure, but, as its experience with the African Union mission in Darfur has shown, it is still far from being able to handle these costly and complex missions on its own. Nor would the European Union acting on its own be a politically acceptable substitute. Even the UN, as we have seen in Darfur, raises strong, if, in my view, entirely misconceived, objections. There is a crying need for some joint approach that enables Europeans and Africans to work together—normally, no doubt, under UN legitimisation—in such peace operations. The Europeans have many of the resources in money, training and expertise that would complement African efforts. That is one obvious field in which a strategic partnership could bring major benefits to all concerned.

Nothing is more sensitive in relations between Europe and Africa than the issues of human rights, governance and corruption, but they cannot simply be ducked. Fortunately the Africans themselves have begun to address them. The African Union’s peer review process, which has been referred to by other speakers, is a laudable attempt to get to grips with these most difficult subjects. Relatively few African countries have so far subjected themselves to this new mechanism. It is greatly to be hoped that that number will grow. Certainly, the European Union should take full account of countries’ records in accepting the peer review mechanism and in implementing its recommendations when they, in their turn, decide on their own developmental priorities.

In all these areas the crucial objective must be for Europe to try to work with Africa’s own efforts, not to be seen as imposing policies from the outside. Achieving African ownership of the strategic partnership in all its elements will be difficult and frustrating, but it is essential. It will not always succeed at the first, or even the second, attempt. The case of Zimbabwe, about which some, including my noble friend Lady D’Souza, have spoken so movingly, is an obvious and lamentable one, where no progress has been made and none is in prospect. Europe, however, should not allow such bad cases to take hostage its relationship with a whole continent, even if it may impose some legitimate limits on the holding of high-level meetings.

One issue that is covered in our report which is receiving much media coverage, particularly since the holding of a Chinese-African summit meeting recently in Beijing, is the impact of the strengthening Chinese relationship with Africa. We need to be clear from the outset: there is nothing objectionable per se in a stronger Chinese interest in Africa, in greater Chinese trade with, or investment in, the countries of that continent. Europe, if it stands for anything, stands for an open competitive approach to such matters, not a mercantilist one. But problems could arise if China were to allow its desire to acquire scarce commodities to develop in a mercantilist—dare one say it, a neo-colonialist?—direction. The same would be true if it were to cut across or undermine Africa’s own efforts to strengthen policies against corruption, bad governance or the abuse of human rights.

I doubt whether it is in China’s own long-term interest—there I entirely share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall—to be clearly associated with regimes and practices which the majority of African states are trying to put behind them. The EU needs to discuss all these issues with China in an open and frank way and on a continuing basis. It should not be seen as some continuation of the Cold War by other means and in other regions but rather as an attempt to understand better the policies each is pursuing within the framework laid down by the UN’s millennium development goals to which we have all subscribed.

If this report and debate demonstrate anything, it is the importance of Africa for the European Union’s emerging external policies. This is, I believe, a part of the world where the European Union, as such, has an important role to play and is capable of playing it. If Europe does not play that role, let us be quite clear: no one else will. No one else will step forward to do so. It is clear that Africa is not about to shoot up the United States’ order of external priorities. Who else, other than the European Union, has the resources and the political will to offer a genuine strategic partnership? The question, surely, answers itself. So let us hope that in the years ahead, Europe and Africa will make further progress down the road they have set for themselves.

My Lords, I find myself in the position of being a very new member of the EU sub-committee. First, I must place on record my wider interests in Africa in case they have not been recorded before. I am the vice-chair of the Africa All-Party Group, the vice-chair of the West African Mano River Region All-Party Group and an executive officer of a number of all-party groups on African countries, including South Africa and Botswana.

As a very new member of the committee, I was not involved in the preparation of the report. I feel therefore that I can freely congratulate the committee on its work, particularly the chairman, without any sense of self-aggrandisement. In all sincerity, I felt that the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, who chaired the committee, was extraordinary. It was a tour de force. I look forward to participating in future stages of this work—it is clearly a work in progress, from what other noble Lords have said.

The noble Lord stressed the importance of our historic and current affinities between Europe and the African nations, through our languages, trade and development. He stressed that the United Kingdom has the opportunity to set an example of flexibility in the delivery of aid and budget support; he said that it would be a very good area in which to involve NePAD, and other noble Lords made the same point.

The African states themselves need to take the lead on human rights, good governance, transparency, peer review and the rule of law. We can be supportive in the European Union, but to make progress which will last and be sustained, action must come from within.

Most importantly, the noble Lord and other speakers have referred to what can only be described as the lack of interest in China in issues that we hold so important in our perhaps more mature and sophisticated way of looking at the world and its problems. Emphasis was placed on the perception that China’s concentration was almost entirely on economic development opportunities and creating conditions in which it was able to exploit those opportunities to meet its own needs in the first instance. However, I accept the suggestion made by the noble Lords, Lord Lea and Lord Hannay, that that is probably not in China’s long-term interests. I am sure that that must be the case.

The noble Lord, Lord Bowness, also mentioned the downside of the work in this report. There are no solutions in sight for Zimbabwe, which has caused a delay to the second African conference. That point was echoed by the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, with her very moving description of the conditions that still occur in Zimbabwe with regard to torture. The noble Lords, Lord Lea and Lord Hannay, made excellent contributions to that debate in their own different ways.

I turn to the follow-up report to The EU and Africa: Towards a Strategic Partnership. It really is important to note that the adoption of the EU strategic partnership for Africa by the European Council in December 2005 was in response to developments in Africa, not in the European Union. The adoption of that strategy has marked a new determination by Europe to engage with the African continent and for that continent to embark on a New Partnership for Africa's Development—NePAD.

The EU strategy must and does reaffirm commitment to peace, stability and development throughout Africa. Equally, it must and does define a single integrated long-term framework for its relations with the whole of Africa. The EU strategy is founded on basic principles of ownership, responsibility and mutual accountability which are generally readily transportable across borders, oceans and cultures. But it is also fundamentally a European political framework, intended by design to address Africa as a single entity. We should not underestimate the challenges that that presents to the European Union and to ourselves.

The European Union cannot as yet claim to have surmounted the many obstacles—economic, cultural and political—that there are to achieving harmony, stability and economic development throughout its 25 member European states. Clearly, achieving those aims on an African continent which contains some 50 nation states that do not benefit from 50 years of gradual progress towards our aspirations as we have seen them in the European Union will be even more arduous. It is recognised that the EU-African dialogue has been possible only due to the emergence of the African Union as the central interlocutor. The fundamental aim is the creation of a constructive dialogue with Africa promoting the implementation of the strategy. The challenge is to maintain the momentum and dynamism created by the adoption and implementation of the EU strategy for Africa. As the report says, it is crucial that the implementation becomes more and more a matter for not only Brussels but each of the EU member states. It is crucial, too, that it becomes more and more a matter for the AU and its member states.

The European Council has pledged to review implementation of the strategy at the December 2006 European Council, which we welcome, and at least every two years thereafter to keep Africa at the top of the agenda in Europe. But the question that we need to ask ourselves is how we maintain the momentum and dynamism that we seek in Europe because we also need to consider how we can keep Europe at the top of the agenda in Africa. We have heard many contributions this afternoon about how other countries, especially China, have their own interests in developing their relationships with Africa, which may or may not be mutually exclusive to our own. The challenge that we have is surely how well the member states of the EU can make progress with the implementation of the strategy for Africa through their individual progress and contributions while recognising the competing claims and attractions for the limited governmental, administrative and organisational human resources to respond to the overtures that are being made by other parts of the world to engage more readily with the African nations and the African Union.

In the follow-up report, chapter 2 talks about,

“coherence, coordination and cooperation in the field”.

Paragraphs 18 and 19 talk about donor co-ordination. I stress that the Government’s response is quoted as saying:

“The priority is to get all bilateral and multilateral donors in a country to work together behind a nationally agreed and nationally owned poverty reduction strategy or plan”.

Absolutely, but those of us who have taken any interest over the years in distribution of European development funds and aid know how appallingly disorganised that has been.

The report continues:

“EU coordination in the field remains scattered and should be improved”.

It certainly does. We have had 20, 30 or more years of trying to distribute funds into projects and seeing them go nowhere. What about improving our ability in the European Union to disburse moneys—aid, loans, or grants—into the projects? I have been incredibly frustrated over the years to hear European Union officials in offices around Africa berating how difficult it has been to realise projects because of the bureaucratic problems that they have dealing with their masters in Brussels and the problems that they have in communicating with their clients in Africa. That has to stop. If there is anything that we can achieve through our EU and Africa strategy, we can achieve some better organisation in that regard; otherwise I wonder why we bother.

I must move on. I apologise for venting my frustrations from past careers, if you like. The important thing is that we are establishing in this report the importance of the relationship between the EU’s strategic partnership and the AU’s NePAD project. Paragraphs 31 and 32, in chapter 2, talk about the infrastructure partnership with Africa. It is absolutely right that we should concentrate on how to work better with NePAD and the AU institutions to develop the infrastructure partnerships that they require to make Africa function better in terms of development programmes in and between African nations. Paragraphs 36 and 37 say that the Trust Fund is not at the moment guaranteed beyond 2007. There is no mention of investment. We talk about loans and grants, but not investment. I wonder whether that is shorthand or an oversight.

There is so much in this report that one could comment on and debate. It is probably more appropriate to move on. I emphasise some of the points made by other noble Lords in connection with the impacts of other international partnerships that have been forged with Africa. As far as I can tell, in the follow-up report there is an acknowledgement that, if we are able to, we need to work more closely with other continents, which may or may not be competitors. I particularly would like to see emphasis placed on how we could work more closely with the United States of America, India and China.

This is just the summary of the output of the Beijing jolly, or whatever you want to call it, of a couple of weeks ago. Do not underestimate the impact that the summit has had on the relationships between the African states and China. There is absolutely no doubt that it has been a serious step forward in the relationships between individual nation states and the opportunities for development that they see through forging stronger relationships with China. It is clear that the outcome from the summit has been the sort of strategy plan that we are talking about in our own EU and Africa strategy here. However, it punches with a lot more weight compared to what we have been able to achieve so far in the EU—hardly surprising when you consider the economic strength and opportunities that China can provide to Africa as a continent. Let us recognise that fact. We go into this not with equal opportunities between ourselves and China, but trying to follow what China is able to do because it has those resources and needs, to such a great extent. Whatever the involvement of China with Africa, we can be sure of one thing—it is driven not by philanthropy, but by its own needs. We must always recognise that.

My Lords, I have been asked to reply on behalf of my party to this important debate, and I welcome the opportunity to be back in your Lordships' House, especially as a temporary member of the Front-Bench team again. However, it is a very temporary position, as I now spend 50 per cent of my life working in Africa, so I cannot take part in your Lordships’ debates as I used to.

Such debates are always fascinating, but this has been a particularly fascinating hour and a half. We have a responsibility following 2005. It was Britain that made it the year of Africa and raised awareness. It is now a big responsibility for Britain within the EU to take matters forward, as many noble Lords have said. I particularly welcome the remarks of my noble friend Lord Bowness and his work in chairing Sub-Committee C. There is no doubt that when a committee as well versed as this sits down and examines the issues, we see what has been achieved—there has been achievement—but also many of the things yet to be done, as the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, explained.

The European Union has a good system, if it can be made to work, to help the African Union develop, but like so many grand bodies it will be only as effective as its constituent parts. The same is very true for the African Union, which has some strong, devoted and committed members and some that just sit on the sidelines. We have exactly the same situation in the European Union. We in the European Union are natural partners for the African Union, but the capacities are very different. If there is one plea that I put to the Government in all that they are doing, and doing well through the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office, it is that we need to build capacity to deliver the aspirations that we share on all Benches in your Lordships' House, and probably across all Governments. The capacity to deliver is lacking.

Let me say a few words about governance. Through Britain’s activity in 2005 and the Commission for Africa, we moved this interesting continent to the heart of EU and G8 policy thinking, but we cannot stop. All the bodies in the world that may be set up to follow the Commission for Africa will be only as effective as the inputs in the countries concerned. Hard work is now with us. The year of Africa is past. We have to focus on a decade of delivery. Although the report does not deal with trade—it was dealt with in a previous report—our European Union Committee has put its finger on many of the challenges facing Africa. Delivery alone may be a key word, but when we consider just how much need there is for faster sustained growth if African nations are to spring the poverty trap of more than 3 million Africans still living on less than a dollar a day, then the means to achieve that have to be willed in terms of human input, not just money. It is very easy to commit increasing sums of European money to this continent that is so much in need, but it is the implementation and what we do with the money that counts for the Africans.

I spent the first half of this week in Nigeria. Consider 150 million people. Regrettably, so many of those talented Nigerians are outside Nigeria. One of the efforts of each European Union member should be to connect with the diaspora of Africa and encourage those committed and well educated people to return to help their own countries. It is a question of persuasion. It is not always a question of supplementing salaries, but it is a question of believing that they can make their own countries a better place from within those countries rather than by standing outside and only sending remittances. That is an effective way in which we could help those countries perhaps to meet the millennium development goals that are significantly off track at present.

Assistance from the European Union must be in the three main areas of the co-ordination of development assistance, building partnerships in governance, and human rights. I am convinced that we have the people within the European Union to do it. We have the ideas and, in most countries in Africa, we have the partnerships that can deliver on the ground. There are exceptions and I will return to the subject of Zimbabwe in a few moments. But what seems to be lacking is the trust between some countries in Europe and some countries in Africa and the ability to see that success in Africa is success for the European Union.

One country in the world has seen such success clearly. China has seen that it can gain a great deal from being active in Africa. There is an enormous gap between our approach to the needs of Africa in infrastructure and the approach of China. I learnt directly this week just how important the issue is to African leaders. They tell me every time that, while we in the West, in government and in companies, talk about conditionalities, the Chinese say, “We want to sign; we want to do business with you”. There is a danger, as was cited by the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, that if we do not act to understand the way in which China is now starting to work with Africa, we in the European Union will lose out very badly indeed. And this will be not only in the economic relationship, but in the promotion of good governance and human rights—which we believe is the right way to go and which the majority of citizens of African countries believe is the right way to go. Governments could be tempted by what is on offer from China to go down a very different path.

The packages offered by China now seem very attractive to African leaders, but they may have major shortcomings in the longer term. But African countries will win from obtaining that infrastructure—road and rail transport, processing plants and help with agriculture. These will appear to be very attractive, with soft loans repayable over the long term. They are the kind of projects that western Governments regard as too risky at the moment. We must look at what is happening in that relationship, or the EU’s influence will be put aside and behind the needs of African Governments.

I mentioned the importance of improving governance. I have been impressed by some of the countries that have seriously taken up the APRM, which many noble Lords, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, have referred to. Governments want to fight corruption. The work of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Nigeria is very significant. It is not widely understood, but it is making progress in a country that has had far too much corruption. However, it is not getting much support from anywhere except the United Kingdom. I wish that Brussels could look for successes, even if they were not invented in the European Union but in those countries, and could strengthen and espouse such things as the fight against corruption, where the committees are trying to get to the bottom of the problem and change minds. A lot can be done by encouragement and involvement, but successes often pass us by because they are not on somebody’s programme sheet but have come from the country concerned. If home-grown successes in Africa are supported, they will lead to successful copying in neighbouring countries. Here, I think particularly of Rwanda, which has transformed itself in the past 10 years. While it may not have the sort of governance that we want to see in countries across Africa, it is gradually evolving its own form of good governance and of open debate, which was not possible 10 years ago.

I do not think that we in the European Union give enough attention to a sad development in human rights. I am told by representatives of Liberty, who spoke with many of my Conservative colleagues earlier today, that more women and young people are being exploited today than were ever involved in slavery centuries ago. That is a real problem in Africa. It is not one that can be solved by diktat from European Union members. We must work with African Governments to stop the trade in children and women, which is a serious matter.

Speaking of human rights, let me turn to the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza. What is happening in Zimbabwe is tragic and is a blot on the African landscape, as the noble Lord, Lord Hughes of Woodside, said. However, it is not simply Africa’s problem; it is for the whole world to stop such situations developing, which can happen only through dialogue. It is sad that, at the moment, it is a dialogue of the deaf when it comes to those who knew Zimbabwe in the days when it could feed itself. It is a dialogue of the deaf if we try to dictate. I do not fully understand how the Government can get into dialogue in Harare, but there are people in Zimbabwe who are desperate to try to help change. There is no clear Opposition, which is a grave problem, as the noble Lord, Lord Hughes of Woodside, said. The human rights of people in Zimbabwe are a shocking example to other nations that think that they may be able to get away with poor human rights records, which includes Sudan and western Sahara. Too many copycat situations could be spawned if the European Union and, in particular, the quiet diplomacy of the British Government are not deployed. There is no doubt that we have to make another effort.

When speaking of human rights and the failure to persuade change, the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, made a serious point: how do we deal with failed or failing states? Much has been written. Professor Chester Crocker at Georgetown University has concentrated on looking for solutions. The Global Leadership Foundation, of which I am proud to be a trustee, is trying to assist Governments who are in danger of breaking up or systems of government that are not working well together. But more attention on failed states must be an effort that the European Union can make. In my days in government, I well remember spending much time with the east European countries, helping them to move from failed systems of government towards systems of government that would make them eligible to become members of the European Union. We have done it before in a different context. I see no reason why the European Union and the member states cannot use their skills and experience, together with others who are also seeking to overcome failures of the past, to make it all the more effective.

It is very easy in a debate such as this, particularly when the expertise of this committee has shown us a great deal of foresight, to be congratulatory and perhaps to look back at what has been done. But I want us to look forward: I am sure that the noble Baroness the Leader of the House will be looking forward in her remarks. It is in everyone’s interests across the world to see economic uplift in Africa. It is certainly, as the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, mentioned, very much in our self-interest to be involved, especially when we look at the development of the mega-cities without jobs and with considerable social problems. Here, I believe that budgetary support in development assistance, while it can be good, needs to be backed by expertise support. I come back to the comment that I have made on many of these issues: the expertise that is lacking will not be grown overnight in African countries, but having someone in charge of the implementation of European Union development assistance in every single office—someone who will really help to spend the money wisely—is something that we in Britain should really support.

I believe that economic uplift is the wanted way by many African nations today. They want a reduction in the insecurity of doing business. I pay tribute to the comments of the EU-Africa Business Forum which met in Brussels just two weeks ago. It advocates not only greater private sector co-operation and dialogue but also much greater involvement with the public/private partnerships work of the EU-African fiscal policy. Some businesses have worked in Africa for donkey’s years—one is Unilever, in which I am proud to be a director with responsibility for the developing world. I have learnt from Unilever and many other businesses that very often the business sector, with proper governance, can help the European Union to help Africa to help itself. That I mention particularly as one of the ways in which we will build a very much more stable and growing Africa in the interests of all its people.

We know well that there are some particularly difficult circumstances in different countries, but we do ourselves no justice—and certainly Africa an injustice—if we do not look at the economic growth that is occurring. Sub-Saharan Africa has changed. While growth averages 5 per cent across the OECD, in many countries in Africa we are now seeing figures of 6, 7, 10 or 15 per cent—there is growth there. We have to look at the success vehicles and work with those policies of success by enhancing those with expertise in an attempt to help the African Union to copy the success vehicles into the countries that do not have them at the moment. When success is recognised, as the committee clearly said in its report, we see improvements many times over.

It has been an honour to speak again in your Lordships’ House. I hope that we will be able to deal with some of the detailed issues in this report, which is of great value. I hope that we can encourage our European Union colleagues to get really involved—not just to speak up but to deliver what needs to be done for Africa. Africa will respond, but encouragement and expertise are what are needed.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, for opening this debate and for setting out so comprehensively the conclusions in the committee’s report. I also thank committee members and other noble Lords who have participated in this afternoon’s debate.

The relationship between the EU and Africa at an institutional level and between the EU and individual countries remains extremely important. The year 2005 marked a real turning point for development, especially for the African continent. Aid volume targets were agreed that will double aid to $50 billion by 2010, with half going to the African continent. Agreement was also reached on the European Consensus on Development, making poverty reduction the primary objective of EU aid in the poorest countries. That is particularly important, as the EU provides over half of world aid and is Africa’s largest donor. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, that I absolutely recognise the importance of working with our EU partners on all these matters. I believe that working together brings added value.

In addition, the EU-Africa Strategy was adopted. The strategy builds on G8 commitments and responds to many of the recommendations in last year’s Commission for Africa report. It provides a new framework covering the whole continent to guide the increase in funds from member states in the commission over the next 10 years. It contains challenging and wide-ranging goals on peace and security, governance, human rights, growth and trade, investing in people and development assistance. It is an ambitious agenda, but it needs to be if it is to help the continent to meet the millennium development goals. At its heart are the core principles of ownership by, and partnership with, our African colleagues. The importance of that was mentioned by the noble Lords, Lord Bowness and Lord Chidgey. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, that it is too early to say whether this will be an effective strategic partnership, but I will say that it is a crucial one and we need to support it to make it work.

I now turn to the specific issues raised. There has already been significant progress against the EU-Africa strategy, and that should be recognised. I shall start with the subject of peace and security. The continent of Africa, more than any other, has suffered recently from violent conflict. Darfur and Somalia are in our minds today but the tragedies in the Great Lakes and west Africa still weigh heavily. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, that, without lasting peace, development will be difficult. There is progress. The conflicts in the DRC, southern Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burundi and Angola have all ended or seen major improvement in recent years.

The EU has given much support to help the African Union and African sub-regional organisations to prevent, manage and reduce conflict in areas such as Darfur, including in the past year agreement to a further €350 million for the Africa Peace Facility between now and 2010. The noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, whom I am delighted to see in her place, if only for this debate, mentioned the exploitation of women and the appalling human rights abuses. Part of that is the consequence of conflict. We have all been horrified to see the rape and abuse which has become such a part of conflict on the continent. We are also seeing considerable trafficking of women and children. We really need to address those areas as regards working on the continent, in the United Kingdom and in other parts of the European Union to ensure that such trafficking stops.

The Commission for Africa identified governance as a specific problem holding back Africa’s development and contributing to the number of countries that can be seen as failed or failing, which was a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, and by the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker of Wallasey. Last month the commission and member states agreed a common approach to working on governance with developing countries. The EU governance initiative will provide a collective incentive for reform, rewarding countries that show improvements and commitment to improve with additional funding. Around €3 billion is expected to go to ACP countries and to support the African Peer Review mechanism. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, on the importance of supporting Africa’s own efforts in this respect. I endorse his view on the importance of strong political leadership in Africa.

We must support country-led approaches by building on existing processes of dialogue between donors and Governments, linked, for example, to poverty reduction strategies or the African Peer Review mechanism reports. In that context, the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, mentioned corruption and the fact that the United Kingdom is one of very few countries working in that area. Corruption is an outcome of weak governance, so we aim to stay engaged with partner Governments in all but the most extreme circumstances. Anti-corruption work must be part of a programme to improve a Government’s capability, accountability and responsiveness.

The EU-Africa strategy paved the way for agreement to the release of €55 million to help build the capacity of the AU as an institution. My noble friend Lord Lea of Crondall and the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, both highlighted the importance of that capacity building.

My noble friends Lord Hughes of Woodside and Lord Lea of Crondall mentioned NePAD and the African Union. We welcome the agreement reached at the last EU summit to achieve greater coherence between the existing AU and NePAD structures; it is particularly important in the context of governance. We hope that a closer institutional relationship between the two bodies and their programmes will place greater focus on key areas, in regard not only to governance but also to development.

When talking of governance it is important to talk about Zimbabwe, which a number of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, my noble friend Lord Hughes of Woodside, the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, and the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, mentioned. We and our EU partners are deeply concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean Government’s policies hurt rather than help Zimbabweans. Inflation is rampant and Zimbabweans now have the lowest life expectancy in the world. The noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, mentioned the importance of the sanctions regime.

With the European Union, we will maintain pressure on the Zimbabwean regime to reform, including through the renewal of EU targeted measures on the Government of Zimbabwe in February next year. The noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, proposed an extension of those sanctions. Negotiating the current sanctions regime was pretty difficult; I say that as somebody who pressed our EU partners hard to make the current regime as tough and robust as possible. Not all member states share our view, but we will continue to press for the strongest possible sanctions regime. I agree with the noble Baroness that torture and human rights abuses should not be tolerated, wherever they occur.

On Zimbabwe, I agree with my noble friend Lord Hughes that African Governments and leaders must press harder for change in Zimbabwe, as it has a direct impact on the region and the continent more generally. We take every opportunity to raise this with African leaders, to encourage them to address the situation. My noble friend is right about the ambivalence towards the Zimbabwean situation in South Africa. I have myself experienced that ambivalence.

My noble friend Lord Lea and the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, identified the need for growth and trade on the African continent. The European Commission and European Investment Bank announced an infrastructure partnership in February that was recently approved by member states. Private sector investment in Africa is also lacking. The recent EU-Africa Business Forum, mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, and held in Brussels, brought together African and European businesses to show how successful business can be in Africa, and to discuss how to improve further the investment climate on the continent.

The noble Lords, Lord Hannay, Lord Bowness and Lord Chidgey, my noble friend Lord Lea and the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, raised the role of China in Africa. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, that economic interests underpinned by its remarkable economic growth clearly drive China’s engagement with Africa, both in terms of demand for inputs, especially oil and minerals, to support domestic growth, and of new markets for exports. Chinese companies are less risk averse than their Western counterparts, largely because of strong government backing.

China’s huge economic power can have a major positive impact on Africa, supporting the Gleneagles agenda of growth, trade and poverty reduction. If we are going to see that positive impact, however, we must work for it. There are already some signs that China’s trade with Africa is stimulating higher growth and more jobs for Africans. Like all Africa’s partners, China must ensure it acts in ways that support the building of effective African states that are more capable, accountable and responsive. Supporting Africa’s own agenda of peace, democracy, transparency and sound economic management is essential both for China’s self-interest and for the continent’s longer-term sustainable development.

I assure noble Lords that the UK and the EU are increasing our dialogue with China on Africa. We are actively encouraging Chinese participation in multilateral initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa.

On development assistance and investing in people, member states reached agreement on a 10th European Development Fund earlier this year. This will provide African, Caribbean and Pacific states with €22 billion over 2008-13. There has also been a $90 million contribution to the global fund to combat AIDS, TB and malaria. Recently, there was an EU-Africa Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development held in Tripoli, which discussed how to minimise the negative effects and maximise the benefits of migration for development.

On the UK’s own response to the strategy, the recent government White Papers, Eliminating World Poverty: Making Governance Work for the Poor and Active Diplomacy for a Changing World: The UK’s International Priorities commit us to fulfilling the pledges made in 2005, including the EU-Africa strategy, and lay out how we will continue to do this.

Noble Lords will know that our development assistance to Africa has totalled more than £1 billion in the past year and will reach £1.25 billion in 2007-08. We are on track to reach the 2013 target of spending 0.7 per cent of our budget on development. On education, we recently announced an £8.5 billion initiative over the next decade. On peace and security, we are training more than 2,000 peacekeepers from Africa a year. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has allowed more than 20 countries to implement or commit to implement its principles.

The noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, talked about the importance of connecting with the African diaspora. She will be pleased to know that my noble friend Lord Triesman is engaged in this work, as am I. There is no shortage of people who want to give something back. But, looking forward, as the noble Baroness said that I would do, there is no room for complacency. There are still too many conflicts, too many children are still dying, too much talent is not being developed and too many opportunities are being wasted. That is why it is important to agree on priority actions for 2007. It is very good news that Germany has decided to make Africa one of the themes for its EU presidency. We want to keep up the pace on implementing the strategy. We are arguing for a particular focus on access to basic services, trade and climate change.

We need to ensure that more people on the continent have access to water, education and health. It is a scandal that 1 billion people do not have safe water and that 2.5 billion are without proper sanitation. Dirty water kills 5,000 children every day. So we need to accelerate efforts to provide clean water and adequate sanitation. We must strengthen the EU water initiative to include non-EU donors.

All African children should have access to primary education of good quality by 2015. This will require long-term predictable financing to national education sector programmes. The UK has already committed to supporting Ghana and Mozambique’s 10-year plans for primary education for girls and boys.

We must provide further robust financial and technical support to African countries in their efforts to confront HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis through mechanisms such as the global fund. We must also implement the EU action plan on recruitment of health workers.

On trade, the informal negotiations on the Doha development round have restarted. We urge all countries to work for a resolution, as this could significantly increase global trade, stimulate economic growth and help to lift millions out of poverty.

We have not touched on climate change this afternoon, but it impacts on all of us. It is most felt by those least responsible for it—the world’s poorest people, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. We must accelerate action on climate change, including adaptation, by building on the review of the EU action plan on climate change and development that will take place in 2007. That agenda has to be in addition to our ongoing efforts on conflict, migration and aid effectiveness, which must and will continue.

Work has already begun, and will continue in 2007, on developing a new joint strategy with Africa. The European Commission’s recent meeting with the African Union in Addis Ababa took this work forward, and discussions with African member states have begun. The UK is supportive of this approach. Of course the EU-Africa strategy agreed last December was discussed with the African Union and with African ambassadors and NGOs in Brussels in 2005. The new joint strategy document will take this partnership forward, outlining the commitments that both the EU and Africa will make. We hope that this will be adopted at a future EU Africa summit. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, that we need to keep Europe at the top of Africa’s agenda and not just keep Africa at the top of Europe’s agenda.

The United Kingdom recognises that the EU-Africa summit is an important way to enhance the partnership between the EU and Africa and to maintain the dialogue which is, as the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, stressed, an important discussion. We want an outcomes-oriented summit addressing global issues with ambitious targets and deliverable outcomes. It is hoped that a resolution to the difficulties with Zimbabwean representation will be found to allow that to happen under the Portuguese presidency in 2007.

The EU-Africa strategy is an important political statement of commitment to support Africa's efforts to achieve peace, security and economic and social development. The UK has played a leading role; I am pleased that noble Lords have recognised that this afternoon. We welcome the tangible progress that has already been made, but there is much more to do. We will play our part in ensuring implementation, which has been stressed by several noble Lords, and ensuring that the impact of the strategy is regularly monitored.

Noble Lords will want to know that we are pushing for agreement next month that progress on the strategy should be reviewed every December. We need to continue to work in partnership. We need to review and evaluate what we do. As all noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon have said, we need to continue to press for change.

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to this afternoon's debate. I hope that all who have listened to it and participated felt that the report contributed to enabling that sensible discussion.

The noble Lord, Lord Hughes of Woodside, and the noble Baroness, Lady D'Souza, referred to Zimbabwe, which is, of course, a continuing tragedy, not only for the country as a whole but the people living there. I make it clear to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, that the committee made no suggestion that assistance to the African Union should somehow be linked to progress in Zimbabwe. I refer him to paragraph 409, which refers to the relative failure of the African Union to respond robustly—which, I think, was a legitimate criticism—and to other paragraphs, especially paragraphs 410, 412 and 414, in which we recognise the progress in Africa that the African Union represents; state that the European Union should support the African Union’s efforts to rationalise its internal functions; and state that budgetary assistance to the African Union should take account of the level of support provided by the African Union countries themselves.

I think that it is fair to say that we have managed to decouple the very important issue of Zimbabwe from support for and work with the African Union. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, rightly made the point that Zimbabwe as an issue cannot be allowed to derail the whole process. He also made the point that if the European Union does not take up the issue, no one else will. Given our interest in Africa, we should be very supportive of that strategy, because we certainly cannot do it alone.

I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, for her response to many questions raised. The noble Lords, Lord Lea and Lord Chidgey, referred to China. We look with interest to see how that will develop. To the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, I say that we in the European Union Committee produced an earlier report on European development aid in which we recognise, as we do in this report, that considerable progress has been made, although the Commission itself honestly recognised the difficulty in delivering on the ground. That is clearly an area in which there is enormous work to be done if recipients are not to have to deal with a multiplicity of donors with different rules.

I also say to the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, that we made a nod towards different methods of financing in the report. In recommendation 469, we stated that it was essential that the European Union, through its member states, encouraged international finance institutions and the OECD to take account of development and security needs in Africa. The Minister has already referred to the partnership and infrastructure paper that came out in July, and to the involvement of the EIB with loans.

I am particularly grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, for her contribution from the Conservative Front Bench. Her phrase “the decade of delivery” very much summarises what we are trying to say in the report. It was clear from the start that the strategy was a beginning, and that many of the proposals had to be fleshed out. It is clear from the Commission’s and Council’s joint paper, to which I referred, that it is being taken forward and that the whole business of coherence, co-operation and co-ordination is being taken very seriously.

I am grateful to my colleagues on the sub-committee for their kind remarks about my chairmanship. Although another report is pending—it was published during my term, so I cannot say that this is necessarily the last time I will speak on behalf of the sub-committee—it is nevertheless an opportunity for me to thank all Members who have supported me as chairman of the sub-committee over the past three Sessions, as well as the Clerks of the European Union Select Committee, their staff, and our past and present sub-committee advisers, Pamela Strigo and Oliver Fox. I also thank our Clerks, originally Audrey Nelson, and, for the past two years, Emily Baldock: I have been particularly grateful for their support and help, without which I would not have been in the position to receive thanks from anyone.

On Question, Motion agreed to.