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The article assesses the reputational risks associated with health focused EU public diplomacy (PD) in Africa in the closing years of the Cotonou Agreement. Focussing on the COVID-19 pandemic, it assesses Europe’s PD strategy in Africa in the wake of the virus. It explains health focused European PD stories–as well as aid delivery–in Africa in terms of the EU’s self-image as a normative power, its concern for reputation management, and its power plays vis-à-vis rival donors, notably China. However, the article argues that the EU’s PD focus on health narratives bears severe reputational risks for Europe in terms of opening-up wider interrogations of the health impacts of Africa-EU ties. Notably, the health risks for African citizenries of Europe’s neo-colonial commercial policies far outweigh any benefits associated with the ‘Team Europe’ pandemic response. The article concludes by considering African agency to contest EU PD discourse on its health terrain, and to leverage the EU’s reputational risks to challenge Europe’s unhealthy relationship with African countries.
Langan, M. (2023). An unhealthy relationship? The reputational risks of Europe’s health focused public diplomacy in Africa. Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 31(1), 76–89. https://doi.org/10.1080/14782804.2022.2084050
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