The EU’s African history

EurafricaThe majority of Europeans take for granted that the EU was set up to create peace and stability in Europe. After all, the EU won the Nobel Prize for “advancing the causes of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights”.

Yet this fabrication of the truth would make Alfred Nobel do a triple turn in his grave. The formation of the EU was, and to a significant extent remains, hardly motivated by an agenda of peace, but rather – as an upcoming book titled “Eurafrica” proves – by an agenda of greed and power.

Written by Stefan Jonsson and Peo Hansen, “Eurafrica: An Untold History of European Integration and Colonialism” as its full title goes, reveals that a key motive in forming what is today known as the EU was to jointly and deliberately exploit Africa to ensure Europe’s status. This political project was a geopolitical unit called Eurafrica.

Very simply put, Eurafrica was driven by two factors. First, that Africa would offer Europe opportunities for growth. That is to say, iron, coal, oil, bauxite, manganese, cocoa, copper, (pausing to breathe), gold, diamonds, arable land, manpower, you get the drift.

But apart from ravenous greed, Eurafrica was also rooted in revenge. The year before it was set up, in 1956, Egypt’s president Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal which France and Britain at the time controlled. Aghast and provoked, France, Britain and Israel launched a military attack against Egypt. But the US soon terminated the attack in order to prevent Soviet troops from joining the Egyptian forces (as they threatened to do) and the situation escalating into a third world war.



The display of power by the Americans and Russians made it clear to European nations that they were no longer as powerful as they once had been. For Europe to continue to play a key role globally, its nations would need to unite forces. Only problem was that Europe did not have enough resources to make the entity powerful. Eurafrica, however, did.

If Europe was to survive it needed to merge with Africa. Thus, German chancellor Konrad Adenauer (listed on the EU’s official website as one of the organisation’s founding fathers), and French Prime Minister Guy Mollet, among others, drew a plan for a united Europe bound to Africa; one that could compete with the US and the Soviet Union.

Unfortunately for them, a spirit of revolution and independence was brewing in Africa. African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah and Sékou Touré argued that the Eurafrican agenda was an attempt to stifle looming independence struggles (sparked in part by Nasser’s move), as well as to prevent the formation of an African political organisation. Despite their legitimate objections, Mollet visited the US on a PR campaign to make it clear that “Eurafrica will be the reality of tomorrow” and on 6 February 1957 a New York Times editorial wrote, “It [Eurafrica] is the sort of dream that can become reality and that, perhaps, must become reality if the world is to avoid another and greater holocaust.” Business Week called it (on its front cover) “A new deal for the dark continent”.

By looking at the EU’s not-so-Nobel-Peace-Prize-worthy history, “Eurafrica” establishes that “the EU would not have come into existence at this point in time had it not been conceived as a Eurafrican enterprise in which colonialism was Europeanised”.

It is a meticulously researched and important book that lucidly reaches its argument. Most significantly, the book pulls the EU’s ugly past out of its deliberately obfuscated closet and in to the discourse of anyone who seriously wants to understand the organisation.

Considering that there’s a new scramble for Africa taking place; that much of the violence in African countries today is directly rooted to Europe’s posturing; that black Africans are particularly vulnerable to racial stratification within the EU; that migration policies cause thousands of African deaths at Europe’s borders each year; and that despite all this, political parties whose core constituencies are attracted by xenophobia, islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric are now powerful thanks to the 2014 parliamentary elections, let me just end by saying: this book. is timelier. than. ever.

Find out more about “Eurafrica” including when and where to buy it on Bloomsbury

And share thoughts!

3 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • James Chikonamombe

    Thanks for this post, Minna. You opened my eyes. I never saw the EU in this light. No wonder we’re so poor! It’s by design!

    • MsAfropolitan

      It’s frightening James. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Akua

    Hello Mina,
    Thank you for this article. I will be checking out this book. Would it be possible for you to write an article on Africom? I think this is quite a dangerous military organization which has been set up by the US and currently has bases in some African countries.

    • MsAfropolitan

      Hi Akua. Thanks for the comment. I agree re Africom and it certainly ought to be covered here, keep a lookout. These things are all (frighteningly) linked.

  • Bhargav Bhatt

    Hiii, After long, visiting your blog and revisiting my own self, yup, the author is very true, even the current political scenario and the way EU has started behaving with African nations proves it, but there are two sides of coin though, even some of the African nations are not understanding the way DRAGON is catching them and they have blindly started parting ways from EU..

    thanks.. keep smiling


    • MsAfropolitan

      Hi Bhargav, thanks for being a longtime reader. I agree that many African nations are playing the ‘dragon’ game but what do you mean by ‘blindly started parting ways from EU’? Can you give any examples?

  • Cyn

    Of course it was. They need to keep us mired in instability to maintain their standards of living up North. What’s frightening to me is the number of people who refuse to see it, i.e., my old classmates studying peace studies who refused to see how their nationality and their race has helped them immensely on the backs of people like me.

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks, Cyn. Resonates. Also, academia, especially EU studies, play a key role in obscuring the EU’s history. I know this as a former student of European politics and integration. Although my focus during my BA was on Africa-EU relations, Eurafrica was tellingly not on the syllabus. One wonders how such a key moment in EU history was omitted just like that.

  • Odass Odass

    Thank you Msafropolitan! I already knew about that but it will be interesting to read an entire book about this problem! Keep on posting very good articles like that :) !

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks for the encouraging comment! I cannot recommend the book enough.

  • dodito

    The book sounds fascinating, no doubt about that and I will read it.

    But as a Dutch I am a bit puzzled by the criticism on Europe. First of all the nobel price was awarded for the prevention of war in the past 5 or so decades. We couldn’t agree more that it was absurd to give a region or a country a Nobel Peace Prize and that there are tons of individuals with great courage risking their lives who deserved it more. I don’t think there were many Europeans who really took that Nobel prize very seriously. But be it as it may, war has been prevented over the last 50-60 years. Obviously it is not a driver to speak of nowadays.

    Second I think Europe gets a lot of blame for Africa’s ails. Africa’s dictators, and many country’s institutions are messed up, I am not sure you can continue to blame Europe for that when there have been opportunities for some countries to improve.

    Third the regions most active in Africa are China and the USA (especially under Bush), much more than the collective European powers. We can’t even get our act together WITHIN Europe, let alone outside of it. We don’t have an intervention army to speak of, find it hard to even send 100 soldiers to Mali or some other country. At the same time China has been bribing its way through Africa with billions in free football stadiums and other infrastructure projects just to get equity in mines for example.

    I think if you look at the different regional powers that Europe is 1) the weakest and 2) the most benign of all of them compared to others. Considering its stance on human rights and social values; the International Criminal Court, Climate change etc etc I find the focus on Europe odd at best. Try South Korea or China or Brazil or the USA or South Africa etc etc and compare notes.

    If anything, Europe’s power-play should be much more decisive if it really wanted to defend its interests — but that is just not going to happen in the next decades: it simply is too divided to make a fist.

    • MsAfropolitan

      The post was to inform how the EU’s history is rooted in securing the exploitation of Africa’s resources. It was not about the Dutch, and the bigotry and division that so seems to torment the country and I don’t have much to say on that.

      But good try on attempting to camouflage your personal opinions as measured quantifications. It’s a skill our European cultures teach expertly.

      • dodito

        I could have offered English or Austrian or whatever other examples. Those were just the easiest to come by as an illustration. Nothing more. Too bad you don’t have more to say on the topic other than an ad-hominem attack.

      • Stout Yeoman

        Interesting, and revealing, that you are so dismissive of Dodito’s points. Would you rather he or she did not use “measured quantifcations” ? Would you prefer sloganised ranting? The EU is “rooted” in many things including the Enlightenment and reactions to the excesses of nationalism (in which it is somewhat ahead of Africa). But acknowledging this dilutes the zero-sum agenda behind your post doesn’t it? If significant parts of Africa are mired in tribal wars, armed insurgencies and with corrupt governments then rather than treat Africa and Africans as adults who are responsible and accountable for how they behave better to blame someone else. It is simplistic thinking that if someone is down someone else must be up at their expense.

        • MsAfropolitan

          The post was about the EU, a book about the EU and *not* Africa so your comment is plucked out of the moon, I’m afraid.

          • Stout Yeoman

            My opening sentence was “interesting, and revealing, that you are so dismissive of Dodito’s points”. Your article is an uncritical endorsement of a book about the EU and Africa and your reply to dodito mentions Africa in its first sentence. Were just hoping that anything you say would be admired uncritically?

          • MsAfropolitan

            What is your point of contention? That I am in agreement with the thesis of book? That it was an enlightening read? If so, that is pretty obviously my stance. Or is your point that African nations as they today are structured, for better or for worse, have a tremendous responsibility to citizens? Well, again, obviously. At no point was the opposite argued. The matter of discussion here is to elucidate a part of the EU’s history which has conveniently been swept under the carpet. I am uninterested in discussing Dodio being ‘puzzled’ that a criticism of Europe has occurred, as it is a facile, commonplace, and irrelevant to the blogpost, comment. If you are keen to counter what the article *actually* argues then I welcome the debate in the spirit of pushing the conversation forward.

          • Stout Yeoman

            The book you are so convinced by was originally given as paper at a conference in Boston on 3-5 march 2011. It is available on the internet. The reason it was subsequently ignored by professional historians is because of its flawed methodology and juvenile arguments. Opinion, conjecture, speculation and out of context remarks. which is what the selected quotes (from a few people only amount to), is not evidence. The paper, and the book I imagine, is no ore than here is my opinion and here is someone who agrees with me. That is not historical scholarship. Even if the opinions are allowed they are insufficent to support the conclusions. Contrary views are not mentioned or weighed, documentary references, so far as mentioned at all, are merely the source of the opinions, and the vast documentary sources about what was going on prior to the Treaty of Rome is simply ignored. It is cod history, not worth the money except to people who want their prejudices confirmed. However, my comments were in response to dodito with “But good try on attempting to camouflage your personal opinions as measured quantifications”. Bu getting back to what the book actually argues you say that “a key motive in forming what is today known as the EU was to jointly and deliberately exploit Africa”. I doubt if Africa was a “key motive” at all. The EU’s origins were a 1946 conference in Zurich at which Winston Churchill said “We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living… the first step must be a partnership between France and Germany.” And Robert Schumann and Jean Monnet put forward the founding plan “There will be no peace in Europe if states are reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignty.” with the coal and steel community as the first step on the basis, as Schumann said that “The pooling of coal and steel production… will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.” The Schumann plan was motivated by a desire to curtail nationalism in European countries and replace it with supranational and inter-governmental institutions. To discount all this as the key motives behind the EU is intellectually dishonest and plain wrong.

          • Leopard

            The authors do ignore eg nationalisms of left and right that opposed Eurafrica, and their book doesn’t mention all others who have studied this topic, but it is also true that Eurafrica has been ignored by some Europeanists and academics (not me.) It provides much evidence, but is not always well written.

          • Steve Biko

            What do the European nations have in common?
            They rely on the looting of Africa to maintain their way of life. Africa LIBERATED Europe. What we see now is a concentrated onslaught, where all the nations are united, compared to the 19th century “scramble for Africa”, where it was “every nation for itself”. Europe stays rich by keeping Africa poor, that is just a FACT.

    • Karis Muller

      war was not prevented- heard of serbia, bosnia, croatia?

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  • mmmdot

    This is JUST a continuation of the sick and wholly ONE-SIDED “race war” these white savages started 500 years ago when Gomes Eannes de Zurara articulated that the Portuguese first used “war on the blacks” in 1444 to raid West Africa and kidnap and enslave innocent people. There has NEVER been any acceptable excuse for their behavior by any NORMAL human standards – EVER. Furthermore, if they needed labor, it did not HAVE to be slave labor. Labor is not by definition, UNFREE. Most importantly, it didn’t have to be AFRICAN labor. If these aggressive white SAVAGES felt they just “had” to enslave other human beings as their chattel forever, they SHOULD have stuck to enslaving each other. Whites have ALWAYS been parasitic, morally bankrupt, soulless animals.