The European Union’s Interaction With Other International Actors in Africa at the Present Stage (Case Studies of China and India)


Olga Kulkova


The article is one of the first in the African Studies in Russia, which aim is to analyze the possibilities of cooperation between the European Union and China and India in their African policies at the present stage. The article also explores the prospects and problems for the triangular cooperation between the EU, China/India and various African states.

The research shows that for some regions of Africa the EU is not already the first major trade partner – now China occupies this place. India is also a significant partner for the continent.

As a range of African countries showed high levels of economic performance during the last decade, their dependence from the EU development assistance diminished. This tendency forces the EU to reconsider its mechanisms of interaction with these African countries on the new basis.

European researchers used to view China (and less – India) as competitors for the EU on the African continent, but in recent years, a new trend appeared – to learn from the Chinese and Indian experience in Africa and to search for the areas where there might be a prospect for collaboration, dialogue, joint projects. The author gives real examples of this growing trend.

The EU now sees China as a partner and a responsible actor in order to promote the development of African countries and strengthen their security. The development of trilateral relations between the EU, China/India and Africa is a bright example of the new European strategy aimed at the interaction with the emerging economies.

The article uses comparative method of research – it compares African policies of the EU, China and India by the major indicators (level of trade and investments with Africa, areas of cooperation, big projects etc.). The author also applies qualitative methods of analysis.

Author shows that European policy towards Africa becomes more pragmatic and business-oriented. In this direction, there are many spheres in which European, Chinese and Indian private sector could cooperate in Africa. There are already first examples of such cooperation. However, the EU also pursues – with ambivalent results – the high-level political dialogue with China and India on the issues related to Africa.

Author concludes that EU as a traditional actor of international politics responds to changes in the global balance of power by building new strategic relations on the African continent with the emerging powers – both China and India and “African lions”.


European Union, Africa, China, India, emerging economies, trilateral partnership




1. A Global Security Triangle: European, African and Asian Interaction.Ed. by V. Bello, B. Gebrewold. London: Routledge, 2009. 288 p. ISBN 978-0415496575.
2. Belligoli S. EU, China and the Environmental Challenge in Africa. A case study from timber industry in Gabon. Institute for European Studies (Belgium). 2010. (accessed 10.03.2019)
3. Boillot J-J. The potential for triangular cooperation between Europe, India and Africa. Chapter in: The EU – India Partnership: Time to Go Strategic? Edited by Luis Peral & Vijay Sakhuja. European Union Institute for Security Studies, Indian Council of World Affairs. Paris, 2012. 196 p. ISBN 978-92-9198-208-0. doi:10.2815/29869.
4. EU welcome to work with China to help Africa. China Daily. 12.05.2017. http://www.chinadaily. (accessed 10.03.2019)
5. Grimm S. Hackenesch C. China in Africa: What Challenges for a Reforming European Union Development Policy? Illustrations from Country Cases. Development Policy Review. 2017. Vol. 35, Issue 4, pp. 549-566, 2017. (accessed 10.03.2019)