Category Archives: ACP

Zuma in prison in KwaZulu-Natal

South Africa former President Jacob Zuma has handed himself in to police to begin serving a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court.

The high profile convict was admitted to Estcourt Correctional Centre in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday, July 7.

Police had warned that they were prepared to arrest him if he did not hand himself in by midnight.

Zuma, 79, was handed the jail term last week after he failed to attend a corruption inquiry.

The sentencing sparked an unprecedented legal whirlwind in South Africa, which has never experienced a former president jailed before.

Zuma had initially refused to hand himself in, but in a short statement on Wednesday, the Jacob Zuma Foundation said he had “decided to comply”.

His daughter, Dudu Zuma-Sambudla, later wrote on Twitter that her father was “en route [to the jail] and he is still in high spirits”.

EU contributes €183M to debt relief

The EU will contribute €183 million to the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust for debt relief in 29 low-income countries, allowing them to increase their social, health and economic spending in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This contribution, announced just after the G20 Summit endorsed a Common Framework on Debt Treatments beyond Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), is fully in line with Commission President von der Leyen’s proposal for a Global Recovery Initiative that links investments and debt relief to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Tajikistan, Togo and Yemen will benefit from the contribution.

”The EU is combining injections of funds for the rapid easing of budget constraints to help the immediate response – through contributions like this one – with a sustained longer-term plan to assist partners in weathering a severe social-economic storm, which is far from over. The EU has been leading global efforts to do more on debt relief and debt restructuring efforts. It is our hope that our contribution will pave the way for others to join those global efforts” Josep Borrell, High Representative and Vice President for Foreign and Security Policy, said.

“Today, Europe makes an important contribution to multilateralism and debt relief. The EU as a member of the G20 strongly supports the Debt Service Suspension Initiative and the new Common Framework on Debt Treatment. This contribution to the IMF debt relief trust is a further demonstration of our firm commitment to helping low-income countries deal with their debt burden” Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy, added.

“The Commission is determined to continue supporting its partner countries in maintaining their path toward the SDGs despite dire financial situations. Debt levels were already high before the crisis and in many countries they are now simply becoming unsustainable. This is why we have decided to contribute €183 million for debt relief through this IMF mechanism” Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, stressed.

“I am very thankful to the EU for the generous contribution of €183 million to the CCRT—a critical step to help the world’s most vulnerable countries provide health care and economic support for their people during the ongoing pandemic. The EU and the IMF have a strong partnership on development financing. I urge others to join the EU and our other contributors in giving to the CCRT. Contributions from our member countries are instrumental in helping the Fund support the most vulnerable countries” Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director, participated in the virtual European Foreign Affairs Council of Development ministers to maximise common awareness of the worsening debt situation in many countries, said.

The EU funds channelled through the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) will provide debt service relief to 29 of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries.

The CCRT pays debts owed to the IMF for eligible low-income member countries that are hit by the most catastrophic natural disasters or battling public health disasters—such as epidemics or global pandemics. This allows them to free up resources to meet exceptional balance of payments needs created by the disaster rather than having to assign those resources to debt service.

Experience from the first two six-month tranches of CCRT relief showed that benefitting countries were able to boost their projected 2020 priority spending by some 1.2 percentage points of GDP; with expenditure on health and social protection increasing, on average, by about a 0.5 percentage point.

Another positive benefit from this short-term liquidity support is that it will also contribute to the countries’ macro-economic stability.

With this €183 million contribution, the EU becomes the largest donor to the CCRT, which so far has received over $500 million in grants from donor countries.

Low-income countries are facing large short-term liquidity needs, hampering their ability to find the necessary funds to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, and fuelling concerns about a fully-fledged external debt crisis.

The EU, as a global player, can help integrate debt relief into a broader policy dialogue, financing strategies and actions, in order to ‘build back better’.

CCRT-eligible countries are those eligible for concessional borrowing through the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) and whose annual per capita gross national income level is below $1,175. Vulnerable countries most seriously affected by the COVID-19 crisis benefit from the CCRT.

‘Post Cotonou’ talks resumed

The European Union and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), formerly named the ACP Group of States, resumed today talks by teleconferencing at the highest political level, a first since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with the objective to advance talks towards the finishing line on the new ‘Post Cotonou’ agreement. The meeting has provided an important opportunity for the chief negotiators, Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, and for the OACPS Professor Robert Dussey to build on the work, which has continued at technical level over the past. (Image above from archive 2019).

Welcoming this step forward in the negotiation talks, Commissioner for International Partnerships and chief EU negotiator, Jutta Urpilainen, said today: “The ongoing negotiations with OACPS countries remain a priority. Despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the negotiations are progressing in the same cordial spirit that has guided our talks until now. I am pleased to see that we are getting closer and closer to the finishing line.”

Professor Robert Dussey, Togo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration and Togolese Abroad, the OACPS’ Chief Negotiator and Chair of the Ministerial Central Negotiating Group, said: “The negotiations for renewed and revamped relations with our European partners have moved forward satisfactorily, despite COVID-19, thanks to modern technology. I am happy to say that the Members of the OACPS remain committed and are on course to conclude a partnership agreement that will also take into account the unprecedented challenges that now confront us at national, regional and global levels due to COVID-19.”

In the coming weeks the EU and OACPS negotiating teams will step up their efforts with the aim of reaching an agreement as soon as possible. Negotiations will continue virtually.

EU observers assess Madagascar elections

Polling stations have been opened at 6 AM local time (03:00 GMT) and closed at 5PM (14:00 GMT).  Despite long queues, no anomalies were detected in the polls, according to the head of the European Union’s observer mission, Cristian Dan Preda.

According to the country’s electoral commission, the CENI, turnout was around 40 percent.

Incumbent President Hery Rajaonarimampianina has many competitors, including  four former presidents seeking for a mandate,  however his two main challengers are both former heads of state: Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina.

All three major competitors have crisscrossed the island in a chase for votes and each has pledged to accelerate recovery for an economy the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts will grow at more than five percent this year, its highest rate in a decade.

Civil society groups accuse three wealthy front runners of profiting from politics,  all candidates vehemently deny.

EU delegation led by Member of European Parliament Cristian Dan Preda (Romania, EPP) will address press on Friday, 9 November to conclude the work of the EU monitoring  mission.

The European Union is one of the largest donors of the official development assistance in Madagascar, with the European Development Fund (EDF) being the main financial instrument. For the period 2014-2020, an indicative amount of € 518 million has been set. Its main objective is to fight against poverty, through the strengthening of good governance and the promotion of a sustainable economy.

Hungary expects post-Cotonou reflects reality on illegal migration

Hungary is “absolutely interested” in negotiation of a new post-Cotonou agreement insured Péter Szijjártó, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, however it has also some expectations concerning the Migration Chapter of the agreement, namely reflecting reality on illegal mass migration. The mandate to the European Commission negotiators led by Neven Mimica can be given by the Hungarian government as soon as the three following issues are included: in general the migration chapter should meet the realities; the acknowledgment of  illegal migration as security threat to Europe; the stopping of illegal migration must be a goal.

We see that there is a chance to agree on this three points” –  Szijjártó continued, underlining that the negotiations with the Commission has lasted for some weeks, and there is no objections from the behalf of Mimica. The minister also underlined that both Balkans and Mediterranean routes for trafficking illegal migrants are active, representing security problems to be urgently addressed.

At the margins of the European foreign affairs Council Péter Szijjártó met with Brussels press-corps, sharing the position of the Hungarian government on the range of issues of international agenda, not the least  the mandate to negotiate the post-Cotonou agreement to European Commission Neven Mimica.

Today in Brussels the Foreign Affairs Council is expected to discuss the negotiating mandate for the future agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) 79 countries. The current ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, also known as the Cotonou Agreement, will expire in February 2020.

The Cotonou Agreement is the overarching framework for EU relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. It was adopted in 2000 to replace the 1975 Lomé Convention.

It is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU, covering the EU’s relations with 79 countries, including 48 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Foreign ministers had an initial discussion during January’s Foreign Affairs Council. Development ministers had a discussion on 22 May 2018.

ACP meeting in Brussels

Members of Parliaments from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific gathered in Brussels this week for the 47th session of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly, and a joint intersessional meetings with Members of the European Parliament.
With a limited time before the start of the negotiations for a new partnership framework between the 79 members of the ACP Group of States and the European Union.
One of the key issues of concern for the ACP is the state of preparations, including the shared principles and rationales that would guide the process.
“Negotiations for [a new ACP-EU partnership] are so important that all voices of the ACP Group need to be heard, including parliamentarians, civil society, etc. The ACP we want, must be people-driven… because the issues touch on the ordinary lives of all ACP citizens,” emphasised the President of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly, Hon. Ibrahim Rassin Bundu, MP of Sierra Leone.
During an exchange of views with Brussels-based Ambassadors, the Secretary-General H.E. Dr. Patrick I. Gomes noted the call from representatives for a “radical departure” from the traditional relationship, marked by an “imbalance” between the two blocs of countries in terms of economic might and levels of technology and capacity.
Members urged consolidated efforts to achieve a level of sustainable development whereby ACP developing countries are able to progress from being dependent exporters of raw materials, to being able to add value to their own products.
“The underpinnings of the entire process for a post-Cotonou Agreement rests on the fundamental aim of achieving the structural transformation of ACP economies,” said Dr. Gomes, referring to the current ACP-EU partnership framework known as the “Cotonou Agreement” – a comprehensive and legally binding treaty that governs trade, development cooperation and political dialogue between EU and ACP countries. The agreement was signed in 2000 in Cotonou, Benin, for a period of 20 years.