Posted on February 10, 2020

Council President Michel Tells African Leaders a Changed Europe Wants New Ties

David M. Herszenhorn, Politico, February 10, 2020

Europe and Africa have changed and should forge a post-colonial relationship focused on the shared challenges of global warming and the digital revolution, European Council President Charles Michel told African leaders Sunday night.

Speaking at a state dinner organized by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for leaders attending the African Union’s annual summit, Michel said that most EU countries never even had colonies.

“This changing Europe is looking at Africa with fresh eyes — with respect, optimism and confidence,” Michel said, according to a transcript provided by his office.


Abiy, who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for ending Ethiopia’s long conflict with neighboring Eritrea, invited all the leaders to his dinner.

Michel, addressing the assembled crowd, congratulated Abiy on the peace prize, and expressed his “affection” for Africa.

“I am here today to bear witness to a metamorphosis of this continent but also that of Europe,” Michel said. “Your northern neighbor is changing. I am here tonight to speak for 27 European countries. Twenty-two of them never had any colonies. A new generation of leaders is coming to power. They are not hampered by the burden of nostalgia.”

Michel added, “We want to look towards the future, and to our neighbors. We want to tackle climate change and the digital revolution.” {snip}


The event was not open to the press, and it was not immediately apparent how African leaders reacted to Michel’s remarks. {snip}

The issue of Europe’s colonization of Africa remains a highly sensitive subject.


Michel said both continents should be ready for a fresh start.

“For a long time, Europe remained trapped in an outdated view of this continent,” he said. “Africa, too, has at times cultivated a kind of ambiguity in its relationship with Europe.”


“We are at the dawn of a new decade,” he said. “We are ready to exchange, share and cooperate. Long live the alliance between Europe and Africa.”