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Africa and Europe: strengthening transport cooperation

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Africa and Europe: strengthening transport cooperation

This communication supports the idea of connecting the trans-European transport networks with the African transport networks. The Commission encourages the strengthening of cooperation and the exchange of experiences between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) to establish a safer and more effective transport system.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council of 24 June 2009 – “Partnership between the European Union and Africa – Connecting Africa and Europe: working towards strengthening transport cooperation” [COM(2009) 301 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The communication promotes reflection upon how cooperation and the exchange of experiences can be improved to encourage the African Union (AU) to establish a safer and more effective transport system, including the extension of trans-European transport networks (TEN-T) towards Africa. The communication is therefore linked to the Euro-African partnership for infrastructure adopted in 2007. Within this partnership regional and national transport, water, energy, and telecommunications networks are interconnected throughout Africa.

The proposed measures are to be applied through existing instruments and cooperation between the European Union (EU) and Africa, in particular the Cotonou agreement, the European Development Fund, and the European Neighbourhood Policy.

The need for an EU-African transport cooperation

As the principle means of providing physical access to employment, health care and education, transport is essential to development and to the well-being of both rural and urban communities. The costs of transport in Africa are some of the highest globally and are particularly high in landlocked African countries; due in part to weak infrastructures, excessive administrative procedures, lack of appropriate governance and ineffective safety regulations.

An effective transport network is particularly important for landlocked countries. African transport networks must be developed when necessary for trade flow passing from ports towards these landlocked countries. By facilitating and improving transport flows between the EU and Africa, transport costs can be lowered whilst the sustainability and reliability of the transports services is improved. To achieve a genuine Euro-African transport network, there needs to be a coordinated approach with regards to the planning and implementation of infrastructure as well as an enhanced cooperation in the two principle modes of transport: air and maritime transport.

Aviation sector

The measures proposed by the Commission are designed to increase efficiency and long-term growth within the field of African air transport.

The AU encourages structured dialogue both between African organisations and between regional economic communities. This dialogue would develop the following areas:

  • air safety;
  • security;
  • modernisation of economic regulations;
  • environmental limits.

Maritime sector

Cooperation between the EU and the AU is needed to improve efficiency of African ports. The Commission proposes three ways for this to happen:

  • simplify regulatory aspects of customs and documentary procedures;
  • develop port infrastructure;
  • apply international standards (the international ship and port facilities security code – ISPS) to ensure port security.

In regard to environmental aspects, the Commission also suggest establishing efficient port installations to easier process waste from vessels in compliance with international conventions.

Development of a safer and more effective transport system

Issues of security and safety affect all modes of transport in both Europe and Africa.

Within maritime transport, it is important that countries in north and north-west Africa commit to combat the use by criminal organisations of overloaded small boats to transport illegal immigrants. This practice puts at risk the lives of thousands of people. Another issue is that of piracy, which currently represents an obstacle to the development of trade due to the lack of security in ports and along coastlines. The Commission therefore proposes that the EU:

  • assists in the administrative implementation of maritime regulations;
  • strengthens cooperation within its integrated maritime policy with Africa to encourage a heightened maritime surveillance;
  • promotes a more effective exchange of information with the relevant national authorities.

The Commission suggests that the opening up to air traffic from Africa should be accompanied by the reorganisation of air space and the network of air routes to ensure greater economic and environmental efficiency and safety.

Road is the principle mode of transport in Africa, in particular with regard to access to rural areas. The Commission therefore proposes guidelines in the field of road safety to be developed within national and regional administration:

  • create appropriate mechanism to promote the exchange of best practice;
  • encourage the allocation of European funds meant for the road network to specific measures designed to improve road safety;
  • promote the inclusion of road safety aspects in social impact studies for road investment.

The EU supports European cities in establishing integrated strategies for urban transport by means of the CIVITAS programme, within which cities are able to exchange ideas and good practice. The Commission proposes that this programme be extended to include African cities so that they can also benefit from these ideas and experiences.

See also

Last updated: 27.04.2010