The European Business Council for Africa

ECDPM's weekly update on EU - Africa relations and international cooperation 

Last weekend, nearly 200 countries adopted a set of guidelines to implement the Paris Agreement on climate action. Views vary on whether these guidelines could have been more ambitious, with some just being happy that anything was agreed at all, and others seeing it as a much-longed-for victory for multilateralism.

A big and recurrent stumbling block in these kinds of negotiations is balancing conflicting needs: small versus big, national versus regional, rich versus poor, different laws addressing different needs. This is also the main thread of our last Weekly Compass of the year.

In their new paper on regional organisations in Africa, Bruce Byiers, Karim Karaki and Sean Woolfrey look at the competing dynamics behind regional and national industrialisation strategies in Africa. Romy Chevallier, a senior researcher at the South African Institute for International Affairs, went to the COP24 meeting in Poland and reports back for us on the need to make sure that economic activities in Africa preserve diverse and healthy ecosystems. And yet another set of conflicting objectives was the focus of a conference attended by our Jeske van Seters: should agreements between companies to increase their social and environmental sustainability be allowed even if they might distort competition?  

And finally, Pauline Veron and Andrew Sherriff write about a meeting they organised in Brussels on the UN and the EU working together on peacebuilding.

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The Week of 7 – 14 December 2018

ON OUR RADAR
Three conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  

➤ Yemen: Yemen’s Huthi rebels and internationally-recognised government agreed to a ceasefire across the governorate of Hodeida on Thursday. The UN hopes it will lead to the demilitarisation of the Red Sea trade corridor. Crisis Group expert Peter Salisbury says that while the deal is a step in the right direction, it will take months to translate the agreement into meaningful results.

➤ Turkey-Syria: President Erdoğan said Wednesday that Turkey would soon launch a military operation east of Syria's Euphrates river, in territory currently held by U.S.-led international forces and U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces that Turkey considers terrorists. Crisis Group expert Sam Heller says his remarks will further stress U.S.-Turkish ties and send U.S. officials scrambling to head off a Turkish attack.

➤ Venezuela: Russia deployed two strategic bombers to Venezuela on Monday. Crisis Group expert Phil Gunson says Moscow has previously staged similar shows of support for Caracas, usually at times of strategic tension with Washington, while President Maduro, who faces increasing international pressure to restore democracy, wants to show he has powerful friends.

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The Week of 30 November – 7 December 2018

ON OUR RADAR
Three conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  

➤ Iran: A suicide attack in the southern port city of Chabahar killed two police officers and wounded 40 others on Thursday. Crisis Group expert Ali Vaez says that the incident – purportedly carried out by the Baloch jihadist group Ansar al-Furqan – is the latest in a string of attacks targeting civilians and security forces, which Iran believes are fomented by its regional rivals to destabilise the country.

➤ Nigeria: Insurgents from Boko Haram's Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction continue to step up attacks on military bases in Nigeria’s Northeast. Crisis Group expert Nnamdi Obasi noted that the attacks have created a public outcry ahead of elections in February. Authorities again reorganised military command of counter-insurgency operations and are exploring other solutions to ISWAP's offensive, including massive air attacks and reboosted regional cooperation. 

➤ U.S.-China: Washington and Beijing agreed a temporary truce in their trade dispute. Resolving the details will be difficult in the allotted 90-day negotiating window, says Crisis Group expert Michael Kovrig, and the arrest in Vancouver of an executive of Chinese telecom giant Huawei – linked to alleged violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran – will further spike tensions.

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ECDPM's weekly update on EU - Africa relations and international cooperation 

Getting political leaders to agree on workable solutions to major challenges seems to get harder every week. Short-term calculations and political manoeuvring often eclipse the need to protect future generations. This week, we have two clear cases in point: the climate change talks taking place in Poland (COP24), and the discussions on the UN migration compact in Morocco. The outlook does not look promising and, in each case, one can lament the lack of leadership. But perhaps we should look into the deeper factors at play and analyse in detail what is being proposed, who is resisting change, why, and what alternatives exist. This is in large measure the role of think tanks like ECDPM.

One key example of this difficulty of collectively addressing long-term change is the next EU budget. How should it be structured? How can it be better geared towards future needs? And what will this mean for the EU’s work on development and its partnership with Africa? We started last week with a paper on programming, looking at the proposed new ‘single instrument’, and we continue this week with two more papers. Firstly, Alexei Jones, Emmanuel De Groof and Joanna Kahiluoto looked at the positions of the different European institutions in the fight to shape and manage the new financial instrument – the NDICI. Secondly, with our colleagues from the European Think Tanks Group (ETTG), we take a more national perspective. The ETTG members hail from capitals across the Union and thus offer a clear sense of what each of these countries wants to get out of this new instrument and why.

Balancing national and regional perspectives is of course not just an issue for Europe. Africa continues to have a rich debate on precisely this dynamic – and for the past two years, our work on regional organisations in Africa has zoomed in on that. It is increasingly clear that water could be the next battleground. Therefore, attempts to coordinate and find common ground on how to best share this common resource are critical. The paper by Alfonso Medinilla has captured the challenges and options in the first of a new series of papers on the political economy dynamics of regional organisations in Africa.

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The Week of 23 – 30 November 2018

ON OUR RADAR
Five conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  

➤ Ukraine-Russia: Russia engaged in its first acknowledged use of force against Ukraine since the 2014 Crimea annexation. Crisis Group experts Katharine Quinn-Judge and Anna Arutunyan say the incident was Moscow’s show of strength in what it claims are sovereign waters and Kyiv's response to this aggression was partly informed by Ukrainian President Poroshenko's desire to bolster support ahead of March elections. 

➤ Afghanistan: One day after a Taliban attack killed three U.S. personnel – the deadliest day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan this year – President Ghani announced a new plan for peace that would require at least five years. Crisis Group expert Borhan Osman says the rising death toll and mounting costs of the war are pushing Western allies to seek a faster route to peace.

➤ U.S.-Mexico: Pressure mounted at the Mexico-U.S. border on 25 November after U.S. guards fired tear gas at around 500 Central American migrants. Crisis Group expert Sofía Martínez says that even if the main push factor to migrate from their home countries is the economy, many asylum-seekers are also escaping political instability and gang violence

➤ Cameroon: A suicide bomber wounded at least 29 people on Wednesday in Amchide in Cameroon’s restive Far North. Crisis Group expert Hans De Marie Heungoup says that while some degree of normality has returned to Amchide since Boko Haram’s large-scale attacks in 2014-2015, the bombing is a reminder that the jihadist group remains a potent threat.

➤ U.S.-China: The U.S. Navy on Wednesday sailed warships through the Taiwan Strait for the third time this year. Crisis Group expert Michael Kovrig says tensions over Taiwan will continue as the Trump administration steps up shows of support for Taipei in the face of Chinese pressure.

 

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ECDPM's weekly update on EU - Africa relations and international cooperation 

A rather sombre European Council on Sunday approved the UK Withdrawal Agreement in Brussels, which was fittingly covered by fog. The British Prime Minister now has two weeks to convince the Parliament back home that this is the best, if not the only possible, deal.

In the meantime, here in Brussels, the 27 member states are giving signs that they are keen to move on. What is sure is that they will have to pick up the pace of the negotiations on the next EU budget. Just as well, since we have been continuing our in-depth analysis of the proposal on the table. €  89.2 billion is the sum allocated to the new foreign policy and development instrument – the NDICI, for the acronym buffs. It’s early stages still, but we wanted to be the first to look at how this money could be spent – the programming, for the EU jargon buffs.

Some form of ‘programming’ is hopefully also going to take place in Poland from next week, when ministers, officials and a big chunk of the climate community will meet to discuss the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate. There seems to be a renewed sense of urgency and a need to show progress. But, as Mariella Di Ciommo and Sanne Thijssen write in their blogthe European Union should show its international partners how far it is willing to go to address climate change.

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The Week of 16 – 23 November 2018

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ECDPM's weekly update on EU - Africa relations and international cooperation 

On this side of the Mediterranean, all we are talking about is Brexit. What will Prime Minister Theresa May do? Is the UK parliament going to vote for her proposed withdrawal agreement? What do the remaining 27 EU member states think about it? Is there going to be a second referendum? Will the UK get out without a deal? You will have read about all this and the possible consequences of each of these scenarios. What you might not have read yet is, if we step back a little, what each of these possible outcomes means for the EU and the UK when it comes to aid, trade and the relationship with Africa. Look no further: Andrew Sherriff and Emmanuel De Groof wrote a seven-point piece on just that.

In the meanwhile, there was a very different atmosphere on the other side of the Mediterranean, where the leaders of the 55 African Union member states met to discuss how to reform the big African institution. At least the rhetoric was one of unity, decisiveness and optimism. We have collected for you the key information on the Summit in Addis Ababa.

To further contrast the moods in the two continents, the UN poverty envoy published a hard-hitting report on the impact of austerity in the UK, while this week Africa celebrates industrialisation week, focusing on how to convert high economic growth rates – an average of 5.5% annually versus a European average of 1.7% –  into more meaningful economic and social results through industrialisation.

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ECDPM's weekly update on EU - Africa relations and international cooperation 

In December 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire to protest against the regime of Ben Ali. His tragic gesture marks the beginning of what is known as the ‘Arab Spring’. Since then, we have witnessed major changes in the broader region, and we are constantly reminded of the fragile economic and political situation. But how has the situation really changed for citizens living in North African countries, eight years on? Our last Great Insights of the year, entirely devoted to North Africa, gives you a set of pictures and analyses with more granular detail than the sweeping headlines we have become used to reading. And to know what we have been doing on North Africa, do have a look at our updated dossier.

As you probably have noticed, we have spent a lot of energy analysing peacebuilding and the reasons why some European countries (and the European Union institutions) decide to support and invest in it – or not. We have published and presented a summary of all key findings and two of the four case studies – Sweden and Germany. The next two case studies will come out soon and, once available, they too will be added to a new tool we have developed to give you a complete overview, in an easy-to-navigate way, of all our work on the matter. We welcome your feedback.

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