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The European Union: Well-Meaning Partner or Selfish Superpower?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Moritz Baumstark.

Many African countries are now negotiating new economic partnership agreements with the European Union since the expiration of the Cotonou Agreement in 2000. Non-governmental organizations and many African leaders have condemned the agreements as deeply unfair, and criticized the EU for its heavy-handed negotiating tactics. But EU officials insist that they are committed to a ‘development-friendly’ agreement and that they have been generous in their concessions. Using Jagdish Bhagwati’s idea of the ‘selfish hegemon’, this lunchtime seminar discusses how to best understand EU negotiating strategy: does it have Africa’s best interest at heart, or is the EU shrewdly pursuing its own narrow agenda? Can the EU help Africa and help itself at the same time, or are the two mutually exclusive? Taking a bird’s-eye view of the negotiations so far, I highlight evidence that suggests both, and try to reconcile the two with a more nuanced appreciation of what is at stake, both for the EU and for Africa, in the economic partnership agreements.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group series.

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