Author Archives: Europe correspondent

Brussels: EU-African Union Summit

Brussels 17.02.2022 The leaders of the EU and the African Union (AU) as well as of their respective member states will meet for the sixth European Union – African Union summit in Brussels on 17 and 18 February 2022.
Ahead of the summit, EU heads of state or government will take part in a one-hour informal meeting of the members of the European Council at 12:30 (BXL time >UTC/GMT +1 hour) on the state of play of latest developments related to Russia and Ukraine.

Informal meeting of the members of the European Council:
The summit will present a unique opportunity to lay the foundations for a renewed and deeper AU-EU partnership with the highest political involvement and based on trust and a clear understanding of mutual interests. Leaders are expected to discuss how both continents can build greater prosperity. The aim is to launch an ambitious Africa-Europe Investment Package, taking into account global challenges such as climate change and the current health crisis. They should also be talking about tools and solutions to promote stability and security through a renewed peace and security architecture.

A series of thematic roundtables will also be organised. The following topics will be debated:

– growth financing
– health systems and vaccine production
– agriculture and sustainable development
– education, culture and vocational training, migration and mobility
– private sector support and economic integration
– peace, security and governance
– climate change and energy transition, digital and transport [connectivity and infrastructure]

EU and AU heads of state or government will be participating in the roundtables, together with a selected group of external guests who are experts in their respective fields.

A joint declaration on a joint vision for 2030 is expected to be adopted by the participants.

Ursula von der Leyen visits Morocco

“Allow me first of all, as a friend of Morocco, to offer my condolences to the parents of little Rayan and, through you, as Head of Government, to all the people of Morocco. The entire world held its breath at the unfolding of this tragedy, in awe at the extraordinary efforts of the rescuers, in tears at its sad conclusion. We are at your side at this difficult time. And this is all the more true as Morocco is a country with which we have built a strong, close and strategic partnership” said the EU president Ursula von der Leyen at the joint press conference with Moroccan Head of Government Akhannouch.

“There are historic links between us. Morocco is the European Union’s leading partner on the African continent in economic and trade matters. But beyond economic links, there are, in particular, personal links. Europeans living in Morocco. Moroccans living in Europe. Our cultures have been influencing one another, enriching one another for centuries. It is with this in mind, that I would like reaffirm our commitment to further deepening those relations – as neighbours, partners and friends.

“And it was clear from our conversation, Mr Akhannouch, that that commitment is shared. So it is by working together that we can build a common and ambitious vision of our partnership. We were able to discuss the many global challenges facing Morocco and Europe. To rise to those challenges, we need to find solutions together, by working together as partners.

“Let me mention our main topics of common interest. We are working to develop a green partnership between Morocco and the European Union – the first one that we are developing with a partner country. This will also enable us to jointly develop greener energy. Likewise, we are working together to strengthen the connectivity of our societies, including through a broad digital partnership. Much can be done to further integrate and adapt our economies. This will benefit our businesses, their employees and all workers.

“In this context, I would like to emphasise how closely we are considering the role of young people and the crucial contribution they make to advancing our societies and how mindful we are of the efforts we need to make to offer them the best possible future. That is why we place so much importance on education and culture in our bilateral cooperation”.

Burundi: EU resumes financial assistance

Brussels 09.02.2022 The Council decided today to repeal its decision taken in 2016, which imposed the suspension of direct financial assistance to the Burundian administration or institutions. With the repeal, the EU will therefore be able to resume this kind of cooperation with the Burundian administration.
(Image above: archive, Ministerial meeting on the crisis in Burundi 8 December 2015).

On February 8 decision to lift restrictions is a result of the peaceful political process that started with the general elections of May 2020 and which has opened a new window of hope for the population of Burundi.

Since the 2020 elections, the EU has acknowledged the progress made by the Burundian government with respect to human rights, good governance and the rule of law, as well as commitments taken in its roadmap (‘feuille de route’) towards further improvements in those areas. Additionally, large numbers of refugees have voluntarily returned to Burundi, and cooperation with the international community and with neighbouring countries has been revitalised.

Persisting challenges remain in the areas of human rights, good governance, reconciliation and the rule of law. Further progress would be beneficial for all Burundians, including through the implementation of the roadmap, in the framework of the ongoing EU-Burundi political dialogue.

The EU, together with other international partners, is ready to support the ongoing efforts of the Burundian authorities to stabilise and consolidate democratic institutions, promote human rights, good governance and the rule of law, and to implement commitments taken in the roadmap towards further improvements in those areas.

Following the deterioration of the situation in Burundi in the run-up to the legislative and presidential elections in June and July 2015, the EU considered that the Republic of Burundi was not in compliance with essential elements set out in Article 9 of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement in relation to human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Therefore on 13 November 2015, the Council initiated the procedure that led to the adoption in 2016 of Decision 2016/394 and appropriate measures under Article 96(2)(c) of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement.

Mali: EU five individual sanctions

Brussels 04.02.2022 Mali: EU adopts targeted sanctions against five individuals: Malick Diaw, Ismaël Wagué, Choguel Maïga, Ibrahim Ikassa Maïga, Adama Ben Diarra, known as Camarade Ben Le Cerveau.

The Council decided today to impose restrictive measures on five individuals in view of the situation in Mali, following its decision of 13 December 2021 and recent developments in the country.

These individuals, which include prominent members of the Malian Transition Government, are responsible for actions that “obstruct and undermine” the successful completion of Mali’s political transition, the document underlines. The names are published in the EU Official Journal: Malick Diaw, a key member of Colonel Assimi Goïta’s inner circle; Colonel-Major Ismaël Wagué, a member of inner circle; Prime Minister since June 2021, Choguel Maïga, who led the Transition Government; Ibrahim Ikassa Maïga member of the strategic committee of M5-RFP; and Adama Ben Diarra, known as Camarade Ben Le Cerveau, is one of the young leaders of the M5-RFP.

The five designated people are subject to a travel ban, which prevents them from entering or transiting through EU territories, and an asset freeze. Moreover, EU citizens and companies are forbidden from making funds available to them, either directly or indirectly.

The EU continues to stand with the people of the Sahel and reaffirms its full commitment to strict compliance with the rule of law, human rights and international humanitarian law in Mali.

On 24 and 25 May 2021, the European Council adopted conclusions in which it strongly condemned the coup d’état which took place in Mali on 24 May 2021, and stated that the EU was ready to consider targeted restrictive measures. On 29 June the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 2584 (2021), in which it also condemned the coup and called on all Malian stakeholders to facilitate a full political transition and handover of power to elected civilian authorities within the 18-month transition period. It also called on Mali’s transitional government to hold free and fair presidential and legislative elections.

On 7 November, ECOWAS deplored the lack of progress made in the preparations for the elections, decided to impose sanctions with immediate effect, and called on international partners to endorse and support the implementation of the sanctions.

On 13 December, the Council set up an autonomous framework for sanctions against those responsible for threatening the peace, security or stability of Mali, or for obstructing the implementation of its political transition.

On 8 January 2022, Mali’s Transition Authorities submitted to the ECOWAS a new calendar scheduling the conduct of the presidential elections for the end of December 2025, thus setting the duration of the transition for a total of five and a half years, contrary to the agreement reached with ECOWAS on 15 September 2020 and the commitment in the Transition Charter. In light of that, on 9 January 2022, ECOWAS decided to impose additional economic sanctions.

Mozambique: Borrell cancels visit

Brussels 31.01.2022 The visit to the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell to Mozambique was cancelled due to positive COVID19 test of one of the delegation members. Following medical advice as the head of delegation Borrell decided to return to Brussels.

However Borrell had telephone conversations with the President of the Republic of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi to express his regrets, and also with the Ministers, including the Minister of National Defence Cristóvão Artur Chume, and Foreign Affairs Minister Verónica Macamo Dlhovo the European External Actions Service spokesperson (pictured) confirmed.

However on Sunday, January 30, Charles Fries, Deputy Secretary General in charge of the Common Security and Defence Policy & Crisis Response who has been this weekend in Mozambique met the Minister of Defence General Chume and visited the EU training camp in the Katembe.

On 30-31 January, High Representative Borrell planned to travel to Mozambique to meet with President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi and Foreign Minister Verónica Macamo Dlhovo. The EU top diplomat programme included the talks on the EU-Mozambique cooperation, the implementation of the Maputo Peace and Reconciliation Accord, the work of the EU military training mission in Mozambique (EUTM Mozambique) and the EU integrated approach to address security challenges in Cabo Delgado and surrounding provinces.

High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, visited Kenya on 28-29 January and planned to visit Mozambique on 30-31 January.

This visit to Africa comes ahead of the sixth EU – AU Summit in Brussels on 17-18 February, attended by the leaders of the European Union and African Union Member States.

Borrell travels Kenya and Mozambique

Brussels 28.01.2021 High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, will visit Kenya from 28-29 January and Mozambique from 30-31 January.

In Kenya, the High Representative will have several bilateral meetings and kick off the EU-Kenya Strategic Dialogue with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Raychelle Omamo, and other Kenyan ministers. The Strategic Dialogue will strengthen the EU’s and Kenya’s regional and multilateral cooperation and focuses on the areas of peace, security and stability; democracy, governance and human rights, including gender equality; trade and investment; social development; climate change and the green transition; and the digital agenda.

The EU-Kenya Strategic Dialogue was agreed by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and President Uhuru Kenyatta, in June 2021, to take the bilateral relationship to a new level.

High Representative Borrell will also launch the Kenya-European Union Cooperation Programme for the period 2021-2027, with an amount of €324 million for the first four years, and targeting above all environmental sustainability and resilience; human development and digital inclusion; and peace and stability, with a special focus on women and youth. In addition, he will also visit some EU supported projects and initiatives in Kenya that work on justice reform for the most vulnerable, green job creation and economic growth, and on wildlife and preservation of natural resources.

On 30-31 January, High Representative Borrell will travel to Mozambique, where he will meet with President Filipe Nyusi and Foreign Minister Verónica Macamo Dlhovo. Topics discussed will be EU-Mozambique cooperation, the implementation of the Maputo Peace and Reconciliation Accord, the work of the EU military training mission in Mozambique (EUTM Mozambique) and the EU integrated approach to address security challenges in Cabo Delgado and surrounding provinces.

The High Representative will also visit the headquarters and a training camp of EUTM Mozambique, and an EU-funded project on education and COVID-19 response.

This visit to Africa comes ahead of the sixth EU – AU Summit in Brussels on 17-18 February, attended by the leaders of the European Union and African Union Member States.

Omicron: EU lifts SA travel restrictions

Brussels 10.01.2022 European Union member states have agreed to lift the travel ban on flights to southern African countries, which will allow more voyages to resume.

The decision lifts the so-called emergency brake introduced in November, France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, informed in Tweet micro blog. Travellers from the region will still be subject to health measures applicable to travellers from third countries.

European nations had suspended most air travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe as the WHO and scientists were in process to assess the severity of the omicron variant. The bloc maintained the limits even after cases continued to surge around the world, despite an outcry from the region.

Ethiopia: Borrell welcomes opposition leaders release

Brussels 10.01.2022 “The release of some political opposition leaders and the establishment of the National Dialogue Commission are positive steps towards ending the ongoing conflict in Northern Ethiopia. The European Union has always stressed that the only option for a peaceful and long lasting solution is an independent, comprehensive and inclusive National Dialogue that leaves no one behind” reads the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell (pictured) on the latest developments.

“However, despite these positive steps, the conflict continues, including an airstrike today hitting a camp for internally displaced people killing and wounding many civilians. Immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access must be allowed to save lives, as no trucks carrying humanitarian assistance has entered Tigray since mid-December”.

“All parties must seize the moment to swiftly end the conflict and enter into dialogue. The EU stands ready to work with the African Union, the United Nations, and other international partners to support this process”.

Sudan: Abdalla Hamdok resigns

Brussels 02.01.2022 Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said on Sunday, January 2, he was resigning, less than two months after being reinstated as part of a political agreement with the military.
In a televised speech, he said a roundtable discussion was needed to come to a new agreement for Sudan’s political transition to democracy.

EU additional €15M aid to Sahel

Brussels 23.12.2021 The EU has allocated €15 million in additional humanitarian funding to Africa’s Sahel region, in response to the unprecedented food crisis affecting more than 8.7 million people in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Mauritania.

Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said “Earlier this year, the EU reaffirmed its commitment to the Sahel region, and reiterated the importance of our partnership with the region. The additional humanitarian aid allocated today is an indication of our readiness to help meet the growing needs – and funding shortfalls – in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, and provide assistance to the most vulnerable members of the population in the Sahel.”

The number of people suffering from the food crisis in Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Mauritania is at a record high compared to previous years and initial estimates point to a major food crisis during the 2022 lean season, the period between harvests that usually lasts from May to August. The World Food Programme (WFP) reports critical funding gaps affecting its ability to assist people during the lean season in the Sahel.

The funding announced today comes on top of €54 million already allocated this year to these four Sahel countries for food/nutrition. The additional funds allocated by the EU will contribute to scaling up life-saving assistance for the most vulnerable people in need, mainly people affected by conflict and insecurity and those forced to flee their homes. This funding will address most acute needs in food and nutrition and will contribute to an early response to reduce the impact of a major humanitarian crisis in 2022.

Humanitarian needs in the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria) are rising due to increasingly violent conflicts, deep poverty, climate change, and unprecedented food insecurity and malnutrition. In addition to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, weak health systems are increasingly strained, and humanitarian needs are growing.

In 2021, the EU allocated a total of €237.4 million to the Sahel. Part of this funding has been used to help tackle the food crisis in the region, now in its fourth consecutive year, mainly affecting people in conflict-hit areas. EU humanitarian assistance supports people affected by conflict and insecurity, providing them with shelter, emergency food and nutritional aid, access to health care and clean water, to treatment for malnourished children, and protection for the vulnerable. In addition, EU funding ensures safe access to education for the children affected by armed conflicts.

In 2021, prior to the allocation of this additional funding, the funding allocated to these four countries for food/nutrition was:

– Burkina Faso:€19.7 million

– Mali:€15 million

– Mauritania:€6.9 million

– Niger:€12.3 million

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