The European Business Council for Africa

Europe and Africa must move away from a donor-recipient relationship, Parliament says, as MEPs vision for a deeper relationship between the two continents.

On Thursday, MEPs adopted a wide-ranging strategy for a new EU-Africa partnership by 460 votes in favour, with 64 votes against and 163 abstentions.

The strategy emphasises that human development must be at the centre of future EU-Africa relations, prioritising education, including teacher training, reducing early school leaving, and concentrate on the inclusion of girls. A future EU-Africa strategy should also aim to improve health care and national health systems.

Additionally, MEPs call for cooperation on issues such as the green transition, energy, digital transformation, sustainable jobs, good governance and migration, as already identified by the Commission and the European External Action Service.

On Thursday, MEPs on the Foreign Affairs and Development committees approved the provisionally agreed Global Europe instrument, which will finance the EU's coming external action priorities.

The text was approved by 76 votes in favour, 13 against and 4 abstentions.

The new Global Europe instrument (the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument - NDICI) will total 79.5 billion EUR in current prices (70.8 billion EUR in 2018 prices) for 2021-2027 and used to support sustainable development in EU neighbourhood countries, Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Pacific and the Caribbean.

One of the 15 EU Flagship Programmes supported by the European Parliament in the previous negotiations on the new long-term EU budget, Parliament’s negotiators reached a political agreement with the Council representatives on the new instrument on 15 December last year. Here is the text of the provisional agreement.

The Council today adopted conclusions stressing on the one hand Ethiopia’s important role as a strategic partner and a key multilateral actor, and on the other hand reiterating the EU’s great concerns regarding the situation in the Tigray region and the wider region.

Ethiopia is currently in a complex domestic situation with major implications for the greater region. The armed conflict in the Tigray region exacerbates tensions in the Horn of Africa. Further military escalation and long-term instability must be avoided.

In the conclusions the EU urges all parties to immediately end violence in the Tigray region, and ensure full, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need in all areas.

While acknowledging the Ethiopian government’s work to address some of the needs of the population in the region, the EU stresses the need to increase these efforts, and guarantee full cooperation with the UN and all humanitarian organisations on the ground.

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) calls on the EU to make COVID-19 vaccines a global public good that is accessible to all.

The ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly (JPA) adopted on Friday a resolution calling on the EU and its member state to provide greater support to ACP countries, especially those with the most vulnerable populations and whose economies and health systems are most precarious.

Following the vote, Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Carlos Zorrinho (S&D, PT) said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that requires a global response. We therefore expect EU member states and ACP countries to cooperate constructively with each other to combat the pandemic within the framework of multilateral institutions. These are needed more than ever and should be strengthened even further, rather than being weakened. None of us are safe until all of us are safe.

#TeamEurope in action - Sierra Leone in the evening of Monday 8 March received the first AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines allocated through the COVAX Facility. The first delivery of 96.000 doses is part of a wave of arrivals of an initial 528,000 doses that will continue till end of May 2021

Vaccination in Sierra Leone should begin mid-March and will prioritise critical groups such as frontline health professionals, senior citizens, persons with underlying health conditions and political leaders, while the second phase will include other essential workers such as military, police personnel, and teachers/university lecturers. 

The lifesaving vaccines which are now available for COVID-19, combined with the other important measures which we have adopted since the outbreak started, will afford us a good prospect to return to normalcy.”, Minister Demby said during the handover ceremony.

16/03/2021 – HR/VP Blog – In debates on EU foreign policy, key concepts that people often refer to are multilateralism and multipolarity. When I met recently with the Inter-Parliamentary Conference this was again the case. It struck me that it might be good to specify how I see these concepts and how they relate to each other

We all know that multilateralism is essential to our world vision but also facing strong headwinds. However, with the new US administration in office there is a real opportunity to work for its revival even if this is not going to be an easy task.  First because there are differences all over the world about how to rebuild it. Second because in a multipolar and fractured world, the geopolitical basis for multilateralism is changing. Third because Europe, like other global players in the world, will have to work in a more assertive way to advance its interests in a more transactional world.

I mean that if you want to advance some key principles on the world stage you need to throw your political weight behind them and not simply rely on their moral value. For example, since Europeans want to defend the principle that borders cannot be changed by the use of force, they adopted sanctions against Russia over its attempt to do just that in Ukraine. Those violating key principles must pay a price for their behaviour. That is why following my last visit to Moscow  I proposed to approach EU-Russian relations based on three elements: push back when Russia infringes international law, contain when Russia wants to weaken our democratic system and engage when we have an interest to work  with the Russian regime.

The world today is becoming more multipolar and less multilateral. The challenge for Europe is to reconcile both dimensions, adapting to the new distribution of power, while working to mitigate the political fracturing of the world into competing poles.

On Thursday, Parliament adopted three resolutions taking stock of the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bahrain and Cambodia.

The situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the assassination of the Italian ambassador Luca Attanasio and two of his staff

The European Parliament condemns in the strongest terms the killing of Italian Ambassador to the DRC Luca Attanasio, his driver Mustapha Milambo, and Vittorio Iacovacci, an Italian military police officer, during an attack on their convoy in the eastern part of the country on 22 February.

Gunmen ambushed the ambassador and his staff whilst they were travelling in a UN vehicle from Goma to visit a UN World Food Programme (WFP) school project in Rutshuru.

MEPs call for a thorough, independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the murders. They welcome the DRC President Félix Tshisekedi’s commitment to launch an inquiry and call for full cooperation with the Italian authorities and the United Nations.

Persistent and serious human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations against civilians in the eastern DRC are of serious concern, MEPs say. These include summary executions, sexual and gender-based violence, and the large-scale recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as well as the killing of civilians by members of the DRC security forces.

10/03/2021 – HR/VP Blog – Recently, Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis presented a new trade strategy at the College of the European Commission. EU trade policy can be an important foreign policy instrument: we should leverage our trading power to promote EU interests and values and build a fairer and more sustainable form of globalisation.

On 17 February, the European Commission approved a new EU trade strategy, prepared by my colleague Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis in charge of trade, in cooperation with the European External Action Service. It is based on the concept of “Open Strategic Autonomy”, which holds that we must make best use of the EU’s traditional openness and international engagement but also stand ready to enforce EU rights and protect our workers, businesses and citizens when others do not play by the rules.

EU trade policy is one of our most important tools to support European strategic interests and values around the world. Why? Because size matters. The Union is still one of the largest trade and investments players in the world. It is the world’s largest trader of agricultural and manufactured goods and services and ranks first in both inbound and outbound Foreign Direct Investment. The EU has the largest network of trade agreements in the world. On trade issues, the EU speaks with one voice because trade policy is an exclusive competence of the European Commission. Decisions require a qualified majority of member states instead of unanimity, as is the case in foreign and security policy. So in the field of trade, the EU can take quick decisions and it has a lot of clout. The question is: what do want to use it for?

I'm very pleased with the opportunity to visit this centre: it's a great project. And it's very important for the European Union to cooperate with Africa in general, and with Rwanda in particular, to develop this difficult ambition.

We think in Europe that climate change and digital ambition are the two top priorities. We would also like to develop our alliance between Africa and the European Union.

This is a very concrete project, a very interesting and useful space to make networks possible. We have decided to invest to develop the same kinds of projects in other cities, not only in Kigali, but in other cities in Rwanda.

We will cooperate closely with the Rwandan authorities to ensure that we can develop and strengthen this very strong digital ambition.

One year after the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity, the EU takes positive note of recent announcements on transitional justice and the nomination of some of the local governments. Yet, too little progress has taken place and instability persists. The EU expects the South Sudanese Government to pursue and accelerate the implementation of the Peace Agreement.

The humanitarian situation remains critical and an immediate system-wide scale-up of the humanitarian response led by the UN is needed. Parts of the country are facing famine likely conditions, and a dire food crisis is predicted over the coming months, affecting more than 60% of the population. This situation is triggered and exacerbated by high levels of violence in large parts of the country, which is often politically motivated. All efforts must be made to assist the population and protect civilians from violence and human rights violations and abuses. 

It is essential for all actors to guarantee full, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, in compliance with International Humanitarian Law; to protect humanitarian workers and resources from attacks, threats and lootings; and to remove formal and informal bureaucratic obstructions, including numerous fees and taxes. These impediments are delaying life-saving emergency assistance and are reducing the impact of the funds available for helping those in need.