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Tony Heron and Peg Murray-Evans

In the twenty-first century, relations between the EU and Africa have been defined by intense diplomatic activity. In this chapter, we survey the focal point of this activity – the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) – and highlight an unresolved tension between the economic dimension (reciprocity in matters of trade and investment) and the political dimension (institution building and the promotion of regional integration) of this process. We provide a background to contemporary EU-Africa trade relations before looking at the interregional dimension more specifically. We note the diverse array of different functional logics that have historically defined African regionalism, both prior to and in parallel with the EPAs. Accordingly, the influence of the EPA negotiations on these (partially if not wholly independent) processes of integration has been highly uneven and contradictory. We conclude by considering these effects with respect to each African ‘region’ and the longer-term implications for African governance and development.