The European Business Council for Africa

The European Union will contribute €25 million to enhance the economic, social and environmental sustainability of cocoa production in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon who are, respectively, the first, second and fifth biggest cocoa producers, generating almost 70% of the world production. This funding strengthens the partnership between Team Europe (composed of the EU, its Member States, and European financial institutions) and the three cocoa producing countries and aims at ensuring a decent living income for farmers, halting deforestation and eliminating child labour.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, said: “The EU trade agenda is underpinned by EU values. By investing in programmes to promote fair trade and sustainability in the cocoa sectors of Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon, we are strengthening our trade and investment relationships for our mutual benefit. Building the social and environmental aspects of the cocoa supply chain will deliver further economic benefits for local farmers and cooperatives.”

The Cotonou partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states was due to expire in February 2020. The then ACP Group of States – which later became the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) – and the EU started negotiations for a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. This time around, the main challenge for the EU is to maintain its cooperation with the three OACPS sub-regions and to continue to promote the values enshrined in the EU Treaties. At the same time, the new partnership should take into account the United Nations' sustainable development goals, the redefinition of the EU's strategies for the regions concerned, the ACP states' new ambitions and the changing balance of power at the global level. Both the EU and the OACPS have agreed on the principle of a common foundation complemented by three regional protocols. These multi-level negotiations, the coronavirus crisis and difficulties in reaching agreement on sensitive issues, such as migration management and sexual and reproductive health and rights, prevented the new agreement from being finalised by the initial expiry date set in the Cotonou Agreement. Thus, to avoid a legal vacuum in relations, the provisions of this agreement were extended until the end of 2021. After two years of negotiations, a political deal was reached in December 2020, including on the most complex issues. The European Parliament insisted on maintaining the ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly and was successful in this endeavour; in addition, three regional parliamentary assemblies will be created in the future institutional set-up of the partnership.

The journey of the new ‘Geopolitical Commission’ started in December 2019. We want Europe to be stronger in the world. President von der Leyen entrusted me with the role of Commissioner for International Partnerships in my mission letter, and asked me to ensure that the European model of development evolves in line with new global realities.

DG DEVCO, the service supporting my work as Commissioner, has now officially become DG International Partnerships (‘DG INTPA’). This is a timely and important moment. The new title, structure and mission statement gives DG INTPA a solid footing for contributing to the geopolitical ambitions of this Commission and supporting my work. It reflects the true change in paradigm towards equal partnerships.

In this ever changing, complex and competitive world, our generation is being tested by global calamities such as inequality, climate change and biodiversity loss, brought into sharper focus by COVID-19. Addressing these challenges alone is not an option.

Merci pour cette initiative qui est essentielle, parce que mettre la biodiversité au cœur du projet, c'est effectivement veiller à ce que l'on travaille tous ensemble, dans la coopération internationale, pour protéger notre environnement et pour protéger collectivement notre santé. Voici quelques points simplement en ce qui me concerne.

Premier point: nous savons toutes et tous, et la COVID-19 l'a remis en lumière de manière brutale, quel est le lien entre la perte de biodiversité et le développement des zoonoses, et nous savons à quel point le trafic d'animaux ou le commerce d'animaux sauvages peut engendrer de grandes difficultés. Nous savons qu'il y a d'ailleurs, dans la nature, 1,6 million de virus non encore détectés, qui sont probablement liés à cette transmission entre l'espèce humaine et les animaux.

Le premier point que je vais faire touche donc à la forêt et à l'importance de ne pas perdre de vue que 30 % de la surface terrestre est couverte par des forêts, qui représentent 80 % de notre biodiversité. C'est pour cela qu'il y a un enjeu majeur. Je salue les initiatives françaises sur le sujet, mais aussi l'ensemble des pays qui sont également mobilisés pour travailler à des alliances afin de mobiliser une protection de la forêt et une gestion durable de la forêt.

Today, the chief negotiators from the EU and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), formerly known as the ACP Group of States, reached a political deal on the text for a new Partnership Agreement that will succeed the Cotonou Agreement. The Agreement, which will have to be approved, signed and ratified by the parties, will cover a large number of areas, ranging from sustainable development and growth, to human rights and peace and security and will be geared to empower each region. Once in effect, the Agreement will serve as the new legal framework and guide political, economic and cooperation relations between the EU and 79 members of the OACPS for the next twenty years.

The EU and the members of the OACPS constitute an international force. Together, they represent over 1.5 billion people and more than half of the seats at the United Nations. With the new Agreement, EU and OACPS member countries will be better equipped to address the emerging needs and global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, ocean governance, migration, peace and security issues.

Ahead of a meeting to conclude negotiations on the new EU partnership agreement (Post-Cotonou) with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP), the Chair of the Committee on Development, Tomas Tobé (EPP, SE) and Carlos Zorrinho (S&D, PT), Chair of Parliament’s ACP Delegation, told the Commission that the current negotiation draft is not acceptable. The two Chairs warned that Parliament would not give its consent to the new Post-Cotonou agreement if greater parliamentary scrutiny and democratic control were not included.

Quotes:

“We are sending a clear message to the Commission: a parliamentary dimension with a real consultative role for the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) as well as at a regional level is a non-negotiable condition for the European Parliament in order to give its consent to a new Agreement”, said (Tomas Tobé (EPP, Sweden), Chair of the Committee on Development.

On this page you will soon find all the information related to this meeting:

  • agenda highlights (a week before the meeting date)
  • main results (after the meeting)
  • press material
  • photos, videos and live streaming
  • related documentation

Updated content will be added in the run-up to as well as during and after the meeting.

During Monday’s Foreign Affairs Council with Development Ministers, we focused on the growing levels of debt that emerging and developing countries are facing due to the economic impact of the pandemic. We must tackle this problem in the coming months to avoid a serious rise in global poverty and inequality.

The growing indebtedness of many poor and middle-income countries is worrying. Developed countries have been hit very hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the developing and emerging world have much less fiscal space to deal with its consequences and a much more difficult access to funding. Some of them have already defaulted on their external debt. If we are not able to deal rapidly with this debt issue, poverty and global instability are likely to increase. It could even fuel a new global financial crisis.

The EU is committed to furthering international debt relief efforts for African countries.

The Council today approved a set of conclusions in response to a call from the European Council of 15-16 October 2020 to prepare a common approach in this respect.

The conclusions highlight the increasing debt vulnerability in low income countries, particularly in Africa, and underscore the EU's support for a coordinated international approach on debt relief efforts for African countries.

The Council welcomes the G20 – Paris Club Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which offers a temporary debt moratorium to the poorest countries to help them manage the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its extension until 30 June 2021 with the possibility of a further extension by 6 months. It commits to a full and transparent implementation of this initiative.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and President of the European Council, Charles Michel, represented the EU at the 15th G20 Leaders' summit hosted by Saudi Arabia on 21-22 November 2020.

G20 leaders met in virtual format to address the way forward how to tackle together the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, finance the development and deployment of a vaccine as well as continue the support to citizens and businesses struggling to cope with the aftermath of the pandemic.

President von der Leyen said: “I am glad that G20 leaders agreed to make Covid-19 vaccines available and affordable for all. But more funding is needed. This is why I called G20 Leaders to commit to fund 4.5 billion US dollars for the ACT-Accelerator by the end of the year. G20 leaders also agreed to maintain economic measures until the recovery is firmly on the way. As a lesson from the crisis we need to step up global preparedness. We will discuss this again in May 2021 at the joint G20 Global Health Summit in Italy. To build back a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient world we also need to step up actions to fight climate change. The EU leads the way to climate neutrality by 2050 and many G20 partners now have taken the same commitments.”