Centre for European Studies Holds Second Lecture Series for 2017

The Centre for European Studies (CES) held its Second Lecture Series for 2017 on Tuesday 25th April 2017, at the Kofi Drah Conference Hall of the Department of Political Science. The event, which was held in partnership with the German Embassy in Ghana, was under the theme The European Union and Africa Union: A Comparative Study and Lessons for Africa Union. It was attended by over 300 participants comprising students and faculty of the University, representatives of the European Union Member countries in Ghana, Africa Union Officials, Civil Society actors, policy makers, media practitioners and other key stakeholders/ opinion leaders.
In his welcome remarks, Professor Ransford Gyampo, Director of the Centre noted that the CES first lecture under the theme “Dealing with Basic Challenges of Elections in Ghana: Lessons from Europe.”, presented a platform for a thorough audit and discussion of Ghana’s 2016 Elections, noting, what went wrong and lessons that could be learnt from other electorally and democratically advanced nations in Europe. According to Prof. Gyampo, the second lecture was also in line with the Centre’s core mandate of providing research and teaching in the area of European Studies. He described the theme for the event as appropriate in Africa’s quest for proper integration as a tool for development. He thanked Ambassador Christoph Retzlaff, the German Ambassador to Ghana, together with his team of indefatigable and unfaltering staff for their support in making the Second CES Lecture Series see the light of day. He used the occasion to call on all EU Member country representatives in Ghana to fully open their doors and partner the Centre in prosecuting its mandate. While applauding the support of the EU delegation in Ghana for CES activities, he called for increased collaboration and partnership between the Centre and other key stakeholders in promoting teaching and research in European Studies.

Prof. Ransford Gyampo, Director of CES delivering His welcome remarks

The Chairperson for the occasion, Professor Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu, Director of the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), applauded the CES for its activism and relentless efforts to promote research and teaching in the area of European Studies, since its inception in August 2016.  She noted that the EU today serves as a powerful politico-economic union of close to thirty member states in Europe. It has developed several initiatives and interventions that have strengthened itself as a powerful bloc in world politics. These, inter alia, include an internal single market through a standardized system of laws that apply in all member states, and policies aimed at ensuring free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market. Similarly, the African Union (AU) is a continental Union of over fifty African countries formed in 2001 to replace the Organization of African Unity (OAU).  The AU, according to Prof. Mensah-Bonsu has several objectives including achieving greater unity and solidarity among African countries; promoting sustainable development at the socio-economic and cultural levels; and advancing the development of the continent through research. In her view, even though the AU seems to have been modeled along the lines of the EU, the two bodies appear asymmetrical.  She expressed the hope that the lecture would be able to answer key questions bothering on the similarities and differences between the AU and EU as well as suggest thought-provoking policy recommendations that would strengthen the AU as a powerful bloc in Africa.
The German Ambassador who was also the Special Guest of Honor commended the Director of CES for his zeal, fortitude, hard work and determination to promote European Studies and the Centre’s work among the representatives of the EU Member countries in Ghana and policy makers as a whole. He expressed his personal interest in the theme and hoped that practical lessons for strengthening the Africa Union could be gleaned from the lecture and discussions that would ensue. He urged all participants to bring their rich experience, knowledge and perspectives to bear on discussions.

A Cross-Section of Participants

The Lead Researcher and Presenter, Dr. Juliana Appiah, Research Fellow at the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy highlighted the similarities and differences between the EU and AU. She noted that even though the AU and EU share similar structures, there are practical challenges that undermine the potency and activities of the AU in serving as a powerful bloc in Africa. Among the major challenges confronting the AU include is its huge membership; lack of clear criteria for membership; the quest to integrate a plethora of issues at the same time; and lack of clearly defined sources of funding for its activities.  In proffering recommendations and lessons for the AU, Dr. Juliana Appiah noted as follows:

1. The two World Wars in Europe left no doubt in the mind of the ordinary European that coming together was key to securing the future of Europe. European leaders did not, therefore, have too difficult a task bringing the majority of their citizens along the road to integration and creating mutual dependencies. Standing together is the first lesson Africa can learn from Europe.  The AU and its leaders must urgently publicize the benefits of coming together to the citizens of Africa who can then champion the drive to integration. This will move integration in Africa from remaining elitist to ensuring that the grassroots get on board.

2. The question of ceding of some sovereignty to the AU comes up and as the experience of the EU depicts, regional integration is also a political process. Ceding sovereignty to the Union will ensure that Africa’s integration project does not become merely integrating roads, currencies, trading areas and the like without the needed political backing. Political will is, therefore, key to ensuring that Africa becomes and remains integrated. This further gives legitimacy to the AU and its institutions to act on behalf of Africa and its peoples.

3. EU integration adopted the gradualist approach of sector-by-sector integration, that is, from coal and steel to agriculture to a common market to monetary integration to foreign policy to security policy. This is the foundation on which the EU project has blossomed. Africa on the other hand, began with and still practices a concurrent project approach ranging from security to peace to trade to education to agriculture to infrastructure to energy and transport to name a few. African leaders must adopt the piecemeal approach by focusing on one or two sectors over a set period of time. When those sectors are successfully integrated, the AU can then move on to other sectors until the whole economy of Africa becomes fully integrated.

4. Like the EU, the AU must become independent financially and free itself from donors to take its rightful place on the global stage. Funding is crucial to most of the initiatives under the AU.

5. The AU should begin to initiate standards and rules that have continental reach like the EU has done. These standards can be in the fields of education, energy, transport and communication, environment, culture, tourism and the like.

6. Finally, European citizens are now questioning the rationale for integrating the citizens of Europe but the EU without European citizens will be a total failure. Africa must take a cue from this and clearly define the kind of integration it seeks – one of the people or capital or both.

From L-R: Amb. William Hanna, Head of EU Delegation to Ghana; Dr Juliana Appiah, Lead Researcher and Research Fellow at LECIAD; Prof Ransford Gyampo, CES Director; Amb Christoph Retzlaff, German Ambassador to Ghana; Prof. Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu, Chairperson and Director of LECIAD; and Amb. Giovanni Favilli, Italian Ambassador to Ghana