Tag Archives: EU

COVID19: The Gambia receives €25M

Brussels 20.10.2020 The European Union disbursed €25 million of budget support for The Gambia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the Team Europe global package, these funds contribute to the recovery from the pandemic and also support the transition towards democracy and medium-term development objectives. The announcement of the European Commission has been made on Monday, October 19. The Gambia receives €25M

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “With this budget support, the EU is contributing to mitigate the most urgent budgetary needs of The Gambian Government in the context of the pandemic. As The Gambia’s key partner, the European Union encourages the Government to strengthen democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and to take the lead in building the necessary national consensus around the future direction of the democratic transition, with a new Constitution at its core.”

The pandemic constitutes an unprecedented global health and economic crisis with detrimental and long-lasting socio-economic impacts. This budget support serves to support The Gambia in tackling its economic and fiscal impact, including loss of government revenue, unforeseen additional expenses and the consequences of global disruptions to supply chains. This will contribute to The Gambia’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the democratic transition initiated in 2017.

Channelled to the National Treasury of The Gambia, the EU funds will be used in accordance with The Gambia’s own Public Financial Management systems and policy priorities. By providing fiscal space to address the pandemic and to continue financing basic public services such as healthcare and education, these funds will support The Gambia’s resilience to the crisis.

This funding also directly supports the long-term efforts to achieve debt sustainability. In addition, the EU will provide technical assistance and capacity building in areas such as public financial management and statistical development.

Since the democratic transition, the EU has provided to The Gambia €365 million in development funds during the period 2016-2020 and €38.95 million from the EU Emergency Trust Fund from 2015 to 2019.

The EU is committed to assist in strengthening the democratic and economic governance in The Gambia as well as its resilience capacity. The EU supports the priorities of The Gambian Government in view of encouraging inclusive and sustainable growth, achieving the necessary reforms related to human rights, to democracy, and on the rule of law.

The EU Delegation implements a broad project portfolio focusing on governance, energy and economic growth, providing budget support under a series of sequential state and resilience building contracts and accompanying the democratic reform and transitional justice trajectories.

EU awaits ECOWAS decision on Mali

Brussels 04.10.2020 The EU once again reiterated its full support to ECOWAS on the issue of lifting Mali sanctions, imposed by West Africa the regional powers.  Meanwhile the transitional government is hopeful that sanctions placed on Mali by ECOWAS are likely to be lifted soon. Mali’s newly appointed transitional President, Bah Ndaw held a meeting with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Permanent Representative to Mali, Boly Hamidou to discuss the blockade problem, which has grave consequences for population of the country, and neighbourhood regions, involved in cross-border trade.

“After the swearing-in of the President of the Transition, Mr. Bah N’daw on September 25, the appointment of a civilian prime minister, Mr. Moctar Ouane, on Sunday, September 27, we are following the developments in view of the Transition on a track in accordance with ECOWAS requirements” said the EU spokesperson to Africa Diplomatic, while commenting on the issue. “In this context, the EU awaits the decision of ECOWAS regarding the sanctions imposed on Mali.” 

“The confirms her readiness to work in close collaboration with the UN / AU / ECOWAS Follow-up Committee in support of a successful transition. The EU gives full support to ECOWAS, whose heads of state are calling for a transfer of power to a transition led by a civilian President and Prime Minister, who can ensure the transition to a return to constitutional order” the spokesperson has underlined.

ECOWAS requires that the position of vice president, instituted by the board, be deprived of the prerogative to replace the president if the latter is unable to exercise the position. The post of vice president was handed over to the head of the military who led the coup d’état – Colonel Assimi Goita.

ECOWAS is concerned that the army may regain control in a transition in which it already plays a prominent role. The position of vice-president and his duties must be included in a “letter,” a kind of fundamental document, to which the board refers to organize the transition.

However, no final official version of this text, according to which the president and vice president took office on September 25, has not been published. ECOWAS is requesting the publication of this document. A source close to the Mali officers said it could be revealed soon but would remain anonymous.

Meanwhile Nigeria President Buhari is reluctant to lift up sanctions, after the meeting with the Special Envoy to present a formal report to the new ECOWAS Chairman, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, “who will then write us officially, and we then determine the next steps.”

The Nigerian President said with about two-thirds of Mali currently under occupation by terrorists, “the priority of the military should be to secure their country,” rather than hold on to power, former army General Buhari said. Buhari is a retired general of the Nigerian Army and served as military head of state from 1983 to 1985, after taking power in a military coup d’état.

Libya: speaker Aguila Saleh rise

Brussels 03.10.2020 Libya’s oil output has risen to 270,000 bpd as the OPEC member ramps up export activity following the easing of a blockade by eastern part of the country.
On October 1 Libya’s oil terminals at Hariga, Brega, and Zueitina were open for business and welcoming tankers to ship oil, although the biggest port and the terminal typically exporting crude from the largest oilfield in the country was still under strain.

The North African nation’s National Oil Corp said it expects production to rise to around 260,000 barrels per day, or bpd, by next week, up from some 100,000 bpd before the blockade of its oil ports and oilfields lifted by Haftar’s forces at the end of last week.

Total Libyan production could reach 550,000 bpd by the end of the year and nearly a million bpd by mid-2021. All that for a country that did not export a single barrel from January due to the civil war forced by Haftar. At its peak in 2008, Libya produced nearly 1.8 million bpd.

The shifting market dynamics could force OPEC back to the drawing board, to figure out what to do with all that unexpected new supply.

Emboldened by the steady price action of the past four months, OPEC decided to roll back its cuts by two million bpd from this month, taking a gamble that the market won’t crash, as economies continue to recover from the worst of the COVID-19 disruption. AbS’ warning to oil giants that they’ll be “ouching like hell” if they try to short the market was part of a calculated campaign to defend prices.

In the complex international economic context, and Libya ongoing political crisis, the Tobruk House of Representative (HoR) Speaker, Aguila Saleh, is expected to play a major role in state-building during the coming period, amid hopes of a political settlement to the long-time crisis in the country. Moreover might play a key role in concluding new trade agreements for oil exports, preventing overproduction, and subsequent turmoil for the oil markets.

Saleh has cemented his reputation as a political heavy-weight demonstrating openness to resolve the ongoing crisis in Libya. For the international community his rise will embody the transfer of political powers in Cyrenaica from military – Marshall Khalifa Haftar leading the Libyan National Army – to civilians. The increasing influence of the role of Saleh has reflected in the decision of the European Union Council to lift the individual sanction, allowing him to travel freely.

“The Council today decided to remove Aguila Saleh, speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, and Nuri Abu Sahmain, former president of the internationally unrecognised General National Congress of Libya, from the list of individuals and entities subject to restrictive measures in relation to the Libyan conflict.

“The two leading political figures had been subject to EU restrictive measures – a travel ban and an asset freeze – since 2016. The delisting of Speaker Saleh was agreed in light of his recent constructive engagement in support of a negotiated political solution to the Libyan crisis. The Council will continue to follow his behaviour closely, notably in relation to his support for the Berlin Process and for the efforts of the UN mission to Libya (UNSMIL). The delisting of Abu Sahmain was agreed based on the overall absence of any recent role in the Libyan political process.

“The EU welcomed the announcements made on 21 August by the president of the Presidency Council, Fayez al-Sarraj, and the speaker of the House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, which accelerated promising developments in Libya and created a window of opportunity to move the Libyan transition forward towards completion through a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process.

“Today’s decision underlines the strategic use of the EU’s sanctions regime, following developments on the ground. Restrictive measures are intended to bring about a change in policy or activity by entities and individuals responsible for malign behaviour, and are of a proportionate, targeted and non-punitive nature. De-listing is appropriate wherever the criteria for listing are no longer met, as was the case here.

“The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons and entities concerned, have been published in the Official Journal”.

Urpilainen: Team Europe initiatives

Brussels: Statement by Commissioner Urpilainen during the Informal Meeting of Development Ministers 29/09/2020:

“Despite the postponement of the Summit, we must keep the momentum in our engagement with African partners. We still have a lot of work to engage and agree on key issues.

How we can use the time ahead to deliver at the Summit? I would like to put forward three ideas.

First, a coordinated outreach: we have already set important platforms to stimulate discussions. And at the Foreign Affairs Council last Monday, Ministers expressed their readiness to intensify the political outreach to African partners and I am sure you will be part of it too. I welcome this decision and we could design a coordinated process.

Secondly, we should use the time to properly reflect, together with our African partners, on how we can turn the priorities into concrete deliverables.

For example, an important deliverable could be a comprehensive investment package, linked to the SDGs.

Furthermore, we can take forward the issue of debt, and I would suggest we have this discussion jointly with our colleagues the Ministers of Finance, as it is only if we act together that we could have real influence.

My third and final point is that our best shot at delivering on our ambitions is of course as Team Europe. Of the global Team Europe response to COVID-19, almost EUR 7 billion, excluding guarantees, will go to Africa. And let us not forget the impressive work Team Europe has done on vaccines initiatives or the G20-Paris Club Debt Service Suspension Initiative.

Our services, including on the ground in Africa, have started to work very closely to identify possible Team Europe Initiatives that should allow us to have real transformative impact and become a partner of reference.

Those Team Europe Initiatives are guided by the priorities outlined in the Joint Communication on a Strategy with Africa, which remain valid.

To further give political impetus I would like to propose that we write together co-signed letters to our Embassies and Delegations in partner countries to consolidate and strengthen Team Europe in the next programming phase”.

EU supports cocoa producers

Brussels, 23.09.2020 “The construction of the new industrial complex will allow the local processing of one million tons of cocoa against 650,000 tons today, the creation of jobs, the increase in State revenues and the strengthening of the economic growth of our country” Cote d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara said, at inauguration of the event. Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana account for almost two thirds of world cocoa output.

The cocoa producers also attracted attention of the EU, the biggest importer of the African cocoa beans, on average consuming almost a half of the produced amount. This week the European Commission has launched an initiative to improve sustainability in the cocoa sector. A new multi-stakeholder dialogue brings together representatives of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – the two main cocoa producing countries accounting for 70% of global cocoa production – as well as representatives of the European Parliament, EU Member States, cocoa growers and civil society. The dialogue aims to deliver concrete recommendations to advance sustainability across the cocoa supply chain through collective action and partnerships. The new dialogue will be supported by technical assistance for cocoa producing countries.

“The cocoa sector is important for the EU and our trading partners. Today’s launch of the multi-stakeholder dialogue for sustainable cocoa will help to guide the sector’s recovery from Covid-19, while also finding solutions to existing sustainability challenges. We plan to develop concrete recommendations on sustainable cocoa as trade is not only about growth and profits, but also the social and environmental impact of our policies,” executive Vice-President and acting Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said.

“When we talk about cocoa, sustainability is key” said Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships. “Lifting up the three pillars of sustainable development in one go – social, economic and environmental – is possible. We stand ready to act as an honest broker to create the foundation of a new international framework for sustainable cocoa.”

A series of thematic groups set under the multi-stakeholder dialogue will meet between October 2020 and July 2021 to: discuss ways to encourage responsible practices of EU businesses involved in cocoa supply chains;
feed into other relevant ongoing Commission initiatives, including on due diligence and deforestation;
feed into the policy discussions between the EU and the involved cocoa producing countries: Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana; guide the European Commission in the design and deployment of support projects on sustainable cocoa production.
A plenary session in autumn 2021 will take stock of progress and a public report will review progress on the recommendations and lay out further steps to be taken.

The dialogue corresponds to the EU’s political priorities under the Green Deal and the Commission’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach to child labour. It also builds on Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana’s joint initiative of June 2019 on a minimum price for cocoa on the world market and the Living Income Differential that they put in place with representatives of the cocoa and chocolate industry to ensure decent revenue for local farmers.

The new initiative for sustainable cocoa is part of a broader set of the European Commission’s measures to address sustainability issues horizontally and within the sector. They include a policy dialogue with Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to make sure that increase of prices is linked to actions halting deforestation and eliminating child labour in cocoa supply chains.

Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are the world’s largest exporters of raw cocoa, generating some 60% of global exports (ITC 2020). Cocoa is a major contributor to export earnings, as well as the main source of livelihoods for up to six million farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Indirectly, cocoa contributes to the livelihoods of further 50 million people (UNCTAD 2016). At the same time, cocoa production entails particular risks relating to child labour, low revenues for local farmers, deforestation and forest degradation.

The European Union is the world’s largest importer of cocoa, accounting for 60% of world imports (ITC 2020). Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are major suppliers of cocoa into the EU market, to which they have duty-free and quota-free access under their respective Economic Partnership Agreements.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and his Ghanaian counterpart Nana Akufo-Addo signed the Abidjan Declaration back in 2018, thereby creating “an OPEC for cocoa”. Through this partnership, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – which together produce 65% of the world’s cocoa – will harmonise their sales policies to have greater impact and increase their earnings.

Back in July 2019, Côte d’Ivoire’s Coffee and Cocoa Board (CCC) and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) successfully imposed a pricing mechanism to help producers earn a living wage. Their suspension of forward sales of cocoa beans had such a negative impact on global prices that, in less than a month, chocolate traders and makers agreed to the idea of a $400 a tonne premium on all cocoa sales contracts.

EU: Mali Ba N’Daou – man of “integrity”

Brussels 22.09.2020 The European Union reacted positively on appointment of the former Defence Minister Ba N’Daou,70, as an interim President of Mali. The member of government, and close ally of late President Traoré, he is seen as man of needed qualities to lead the transition period, phrased for his “independence” and “integrity”.

“The nomination of Mr.Ba N’Daou as an interim President is a big step forward. There will be 18 months transition period, this allows the organisation of the elections to return to Constitutional order. Appointed by the inclusive committee of 17 persons, this person is a retired colonel, well-known for his integrity and independence, meeting the requirements formulated by the ECOWAS for the transition period led by civilians. In the current fragile context the choice of the Prime Minister who should also be a civilian will be very important for the legitimacy of the transition period”, the EU diplomacy spokesperson said, while commenting on developments in Mali.

Former Defence Minister of late President Traoré, and a carreer military, Ba N’Daou is held in high esteem by his compatriots, known for his integrity, and high professionalism.
The National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), led by Coloenl Assimi Goita, announced on September 21 that Ba N’Daou was appointed as President of the new transitional government for the period of 18 months.
Mali’s new head of state was born on August 23, 1950 in San in the Ségou region of Mali, ten years before Mali’s independence. After obtaining the baccalaureate, he was conscripted into the army on June 1, 1973 at the age of 23. As an excellent solider he was appointed by the Malian military authorities to take a helicopter pilot course in the USSR the following year.

The new leader of the transition is not a new public figure to Malians, known since he was l’aide-de-camp to the former president of Mali, the late General Moussa Traoré who died on September 15, 2020, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Deputy Chief of Staff of the national guard, director of military engineering, chief of defence cabinet at the prime minister’s office, director general of equipment for the armed forces, official in charge of the MDAC. A remarkable career crowned with designation and appointment.

Thus, in 2008, he was promoted to director of the national office for retired military veterans and victims of war (ONAC). An officer of the national order, he was decorated with the medal of military merit and that of national merit.

The young soldier nicknamed “The Great” he joined the all new air force. holds a higher military study certificate in France. He was also patented from the School of War (CID) in 1994. He was in the 7th promotion (1973 in the Combined Arms School (EMIA) of Koulikoro.

EU suspends Mali training mission

European Union has suspended its training missions in Mali after the coup d’état this month that removed unpopular President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita from power, EU officials said on August 26.

The two missions training Mali’s army and police as part of international efforts to stabilise Mali and extend the state’s authority are frozen because they were designed to support “the legitimate national authorities,” one EU official said.

Officials added the suspension was temporary.

West African (ECOWAS) neighbours holding talks with the officers in command are discussing the possibility of a transitional civil government, which could allow the EU to eventually resume training in partnership with the United Nations. Initially, ECOWAS was insisting on re-instated the ousted President Keita, in spite of the months of protests of Malians demanding his resignation. According to experts the endemic corruption has been the most typical feature of his mandate, considered by Malians as «wasted time», when 40% of state funds vanished.

EU defence ministers meeting in Berlin on August 26 will discuss the situation in Mali, the officials said.

Established in late 2012 to assist Mali’s army regain control of the country after France drove out Islamists in the north, the EU military mission (EUTM Mali) has more than 600 soldiers from 28 European countries including EU and non-member states.

Its headquarters in Mali’s capital Bamako was targeted by insurgents in 2016, although no personnel were hurt.

Gymnich: attention to Mali

On August 26-27 the EU Foreign ministers might discuss the situation in Mali at their informal meeting in Berlin in the Gymnich format said the spokesperson for the bloc foreign affaris. The Foreign Ministers of the EU member states will have an opportunity to engage in an informal dialogue in a spirit of trust on current issues in the area of European foreign policy.

«The EU has condemned the coup [d’état] as the other African parities, and our priority now is to come up with the solution that is in line with the wishes of the people of Mali, so dialogue is only way to come out of this crisis in Mali, and the EU is remindig that the Consitutuional order must be established quickly by bringing back power to the civilian representatives as it has been said in the context of the CNSP [National Committe for the Salvation of the People] in order to meet the aspirations of the people of Mali.
«We would like to support the work which has been done by the ECOWAS, and thay are continuing to do so
” the spokesperson of the European External Action Service said (pictured).

On Monday, August 24 Mali’s military commanders and ECOWAS regional mediators discussed the roadmap and goals of a transitional leadership rather than the possibility of reinstating the ousted president, the initial proposal that was definitely refused. The meeting reportedly ended without an agreement of the timetalbe of the transiation, and new elections.
Initially, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, had sought to put pressure on the officeers to reinstate the uppopular President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita — also known as IBK for short, and widely criticised for the endemic corruption in the country, reaching 40% of state funds diverted to private pockets.

However, from the beginning of the talks the diplomats understood that IBK reinstatement is highly unlikely giventhe popularity of the coup d’état leaders among the population, and the support they gave to the officers in their actions against the President and the government. At present the #CNSP is insisiting that the swit organisation of election is not their aim, because it will not introduce the profound democratic change the people of Mali demand. The CNSP are not prepared to commit themselves to a scheduled elections timetalbe and follow it at any cost, although they understand it is the prference of the negihgours and the internaitonal community to have a democratically elected government without delay.

EU welcomes Libya ceasefire

“The European Union warmly welcomes the announcements issued on August 21, 2020 by the President of the Presidency Council Fayez Al-Serraj and Speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh. This is a constructive first step forward, which demonstrates the determination of the Libyan leaders to overcome the current stalemate and creates a new hope for a common ground towards a peaceful political solution to the longstanding Libyan crisis and the termination of all foreign interference throughout the country” reads the text of the declaration of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on behalf of the EU27.

A positive step in Libya. The European Union warmly welcomes the announcements issued yesterday by the President of the Presidency Council Fayez Al-Serraj and Speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh” Borrell tweets.

“We fully support the agreement around the principles to immediately cease all military activities across Libya, requiring the departure of all foreign fighters and mercenaries present in Libya, and resume the negotiating process in the framework of the UN-led Berlin process.

“We now urge all the Libyan parties, and all those supporting them in any form, to translate these principles into concrete actions on the ground leading to a permanent ceasefire, as part of the discussions within the 5+5 joint military committee and to relaunch the political process.

“We took note of the announcements regarding the lifting of the blockade on oil infrastructure. We now call for these announcements to be followed by concrete developments in terms of a full resumption at full capacity throughout the country in the interest of all the Libyan people, along with the implementation of economic reforms with a view to agreeing on a fair and transparent distribution mechanism for oil revenues and to enhancing the governance of Libyan economic and financial institutions.

“The European Union reiterates its full support to the UN and the Libyans in implementing these principles. We reaffirm our commitment to the Libyan people in their efforts to establish a sovereign, united, stable and prosperous country”.

The Tripoli-based and UN and EU recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) published a statement that also calls for elections in March next year.

The truce was agreed by an ally of Marshall Khalifa Haftar, who controls the east and south of Libya.
Libya has been riven by violence since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the leader, was deposed by Nato-backed forces in 2011.

Libya’s warring rival administrations announced they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections separately.

Borrell enhances efforts to protect refugees

«A new report by @Refugees shows that thousands of refugees and migrants continue to be victims of widespread and extreme abuses. The EU will enhance further its efforts to address these dramatic situations and protect these persons from the criminal bands that prey on them» the European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell tweeted via his micro blog.

The spokesperson of the European Commission has clarified that the Tweet refered to the «dramatic sitution» caused by activities of the criminal bands, meaning the reiteration of the engagement, and underlining the will to increase the efforts «until the problem is solved».

«Fighting the human traffickers, and smugglers is not the only way, because there are several layers to support people, and prevent them from making this dangerous journeys, and we have been discussing this too, that we need to tackle the root causes of the migration, we need to cooperate with the countries of origin, and transit, and this is ongoing, and we are willing to enhance the cooperation even more to achieve results in terms of reducing the numbers of people, who are embarking on this journeys, reducing the number of people, who are forced to leave their homes, and make sure that those who leave are not exposed to this disgraceful and outrageous treatment, and exploitation by the smugllers and traffickers» the spokesperson has underlined.

The EU has already made the steps before, the spokesperson has reminded, mentioning the operation IRINI, to cut the flow of weapons to Libya, to enhance the UN arms embargo, but this opeation is also has a secondary task to deal with migration and fight against the smugglers. The EU has been undertaking measures, and taking steps, and is determined to continue fighting this “dramatic” situation of the refugees and migrants, the spokesperson concluded.

Image: Josep BORRELL

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