Tag Archives: Jutta Urpilainen

EU confirms Sahel strategy

Brussels 19.04.2021 The EU Council approved conclusions reaffirming the importance of a solid and long-term partnership between the EU and the Sahel, and on the EU’s integrated strategy in the region. (Image above: Barkhane, Les Black Hawk suédois rejoignent la Task Force Takuba).

The Council approved conclusions reaffirming the importance of a solid and long-term partnership between the EU and the Sahel, and of stepping up that partnership through an ambitious EU strategy setting the framework for its policies and actions in the region.

Since 2012 the Sahel has faced a profound security crisis that has hampered its development and, together with other long-term trends such as climate change, demographic pressure, the access to natural resources and epidemic risks, risks wiping out the progress made in recent decades.

During the period of the previous EU Sahel strategy (2011-2020), the EU has mobilised all instruments at its disposal, from humanitarian aid to security forces, to support the Sahel populations, and now intends to intensify its political efforts through a new, ambitious, inclusive and flexible strategy based on the principle of mutual accountability with Sahel partner authorities.

In line with international coordination efforts within the Sahel Coalition, the EU emphasises the importance of a ‘civilian and political leap forward’ focusing both on short-term stabilisation and long-term prospects for sustainable social, environmental and economic development, above and beyond military involvement.

The promotion protection and fulfilment of all human rights will continue to remain at the heart of EU support for the Sahel, as well as efforts in the areas of governance and the rule of law, anti-corruption, and the provision of basic public services to all people.

Recognizing past as well as emerging trends, the EU will continue to support Sahel partners in fighting terrorist armed groups, and support their efforts in the field of security sector reform.

The EU will continue strengthening the multilateral system, with the United Nations at its core, alongside regional organisations.

EU aims at post-Cotonou

Brussels 15.04.2021 Today’s initialling of the new Partnership Agreement between the European Union (EU) and members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS, formerly known as the ACP Group of States) by the chief negotiators, International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen, and Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey, marks the formal conclusion of the negotiations of the Post Cotonou Agreement, setting the political, economic and sectorial cooperation framework for the next twenty years.

“This new and comprehensive partnership with the largest group of partner countries is a major political achievement and marks a turning point. In tune with the new international realities and challenges, the Agreement is expected to be game-changing in strengthening the EU’s bilateral relations with each individual OACP State and their respective regions, positioning the OACPS-EU partnership as an international force to advance common ambitions on the global stage” Commissioner for International Partnerships and EU chief negotiator, Jutta Urpilainen, said.

Professor Robert Dussey, Togolese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and Togolese Abroad, Chairman of the Central Negotiating Group and Chief Negotiator of the OACPS, said at the end of the formal conclusion of the negotiations: “The new agreement embodies the ambitions of both Parties to renew the terms of their cooperation and to reposition their partnership around new objectives in a world that has changed profoundly and is constant transformation. The negotiation process was by no means a process without challenges, but I welcome the final outcome and congratulate all the actors whose work has led to an agreement that includes a common core and three regional protocols. By taking into account the concerns and expectations of the OACPS states, the new agreement constitutes a solid basis for further reinforcing the already strong relationship with the EU. Together we will work to address global challenges and we will do this in close cooperation with other partners on the world stage.”

Enhanced political cooperation at international level

The Agreement, that will succeed the Cotonou Agreement once both sides complete their internal procedures for signature and conclusion, sets the scene for alliance-building and more coordinated actions on the world stage where the group’s impact can be significant to tackle some of the most acute global challenges. Together, the EU and the members of the OACPS represent over 1.5 billion people and more than half of the seats at the United Nations.

The new Agreement substantially modernises the cooperation and extends the scope and scale of the EU and OACPS’ ambitions to better address current and future challenges. Partners have raised their commitments in priority areas such as: human rights, democracy and governance, peace and security, human development which encompasses health, education and gender equality, as well as environmental sustainability, climate change, sustainable development and growth, and migration and mobility. The Agreement also includes a strong new regional focus and governance structure, tailored to each region’s needs, a first in over forty years of collaboration.

The signature, provisional application, and conclusion of the Agreement will require the approval by the Council of the European Union, based on proposals from the European Commission. These proposals, together with the negotiated text translated into all EU languages, will be transmitted to the Council in the coming weeks.

The Council will decide on the conclusion only after having received the European Parliament’s consent, as indicated in Article 218 (6) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

The signature of the Agreement is expected in the second half of 2021. For its entry into force, the parties will have to complete their respective internal procedures.

Green deal at heart of EU-Africa

Brussels 16.03.2021 “Africa is geopolitical priority for the EU. The EU-Africa Strategy is green and digital in the core of renewed partnership and sustainable recovery from COVID19. Priority on global solidarity and vaccines. With the Gulf States, we can promote a joined up approach and partnership” the EU Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen wrote.

In her Tweet the Commissioner referred tot he document issued in May 2020,stating that the EU is aimed to “unlock the potential of the Green Deal” and “harness the digital transformation to benefit our twin continents. We want to boost sustainable investments and jobs as well as private sector development. Together with our partners, we intend to continue working for peace and good governance, by defending our values and the multilateral order”.

The EU’s €1 trillion Green Deal project is placed at the heart of Ursula von der Leyen’s European Commission Presidency, and the bloc wishes to export its climate change policy, and make it central to its relationship with Africa.

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.

EU-DRC: €20m for police reform

Brussels, 16.11.2020 The European Union (EU) is maintaining its commitment to the security of the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by earmarking €20 million from the 11th European Development Fund for the Police Reform Support Programme over five years. This brings EU support for police reform up to a total of €60 million.

“There can be no development and sustainable growth without a more peaceful environment. That is why the European Union is stepping up its support for security, peace and stability in the DRC. We are therefore backing the DRC’s government in its determination to continue the security, defence and justice reforms now under way, with full respect for human rights” European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said.

The resumption of police reform is of paramount importance to increasing public confidence in the security forces and supporting the rule of law throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This new European aid programme is aimed at improving governance, protection for human rights and efforts to combat impunity and corruption. It has four specific objectives: improving the implementation of reforms and the accountability of the police; increasing the professionalism of the police and the criminal justice chain; improving human resource management; and, lastly, getting community policing up and running in order to restore public confidence.

Given the importance of recognising the equality of men and women and combating gender-based violence, including sexual violence, particular attention will be paid to gender issues.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the European Union has been a long-standing partner, having provided a total of €670 million from the 11th European Development Fund for the period 2014-2020.

The priority sectors for European aid in the DRC are health, sustainable agriculture and the environment, infrastructure and governance, including defence, policing, justice and public finances.

The support programmes for the security sector, and more specifically the police, have contributed decisively to the implementation of police reform in the DRC, as highlighted by the creation of the Police Reform Monitoring Committee; the drafting of a framework act on the Congolese National Police (PNC) and strategic plans for the implementation of the reform; the creation of a database of police officers; the modernisation of the administration and the creation and construction of a police academy (ACAPOL).

This support has helped professionalise the police, paving the way for a civilian police force that is impartial and at the service of the community.

The EU support for security in the country follows on from the EUPOL DRC mission carried out from 2007 to 2014 as part of the common security and defence policy (CSDP), the first and second phases of the police reform support programmes financed by the EDF (€35 million) and the Congolese National Police reform support programme implemented from 2006 to 2020 with funding from the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (€5 million).

EU increases support to Sahel

Brussels 20.10.2020 Today, the European Union, Denmark and Germany and the United Nations co-host a virtual Ministerial Roundtable on Africa’s Central Sahel region, with the participation of donors and international organisations, as well as the countries concerned: Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The event will discuss longer-term perspectives for countries in the region to overcome the spiral of violence and humanitarian crises they are currently facing. It also aims at mobilising support for the region, especially as coronavirus pandemic increases humanitarian needs.

Representing the EU at the event, Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, will pledge a total of €43.6 million on behalf of the EU to the three countries in the Central Sahel region for the rest of 2020.

“Throughout recent years, the EU has been particularly committed to the Sahel and international support provided has been significant. Yet, the security, social and humanitarian situation in Central Sahel is only deteriorating. In face of this dramatically worsening situation, together – the international community and the governments concerned – we must do better, more and act fast. Only by addressing the deep-rooted causes can we succeed in providing a better life to the people caught in the crises afflicting the region” Lenarčič said.

“Today’s conference is a very clear sign of our solidarity towards the Sahel region and its people. Our €20 million support to the World Food Programme will help the most vulnerable in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, and especially pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children. We hope to assist 65,000 people next year with this project. If we all join forces along the peace-development-humanitarian nexus and our partner countries take responsibility for improving governance and reforms, I am convinced that we can make a difference for the people in the Sahel. Team Europe will keep on supporting the people of Sahel” Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships said.

The EU’s pledge consists of: €23.6 million in funding for humanitarian actions in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
€20 million in development funding to address the food crisis afflicting the Central Sahel region, in cooperation with the World Food Programme.
Overall, EU and the EU Member States have mobilised around €8 billion since 2014 to help stabilise the Sahel region.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are at the core of one of the world’s fastest growing humanitarian crises created by a combination of conflict, climatic changes and poverty. It is estimated that a staggering 13.4 million people across the Central Sahel are in need of humanitarian assistance.

In 2020, the EU has mobilised a total €84.6 million in humanitarian assistance for Central Sahel countries, including the amount that will be pledged today. In June 2020, the EU also organised two EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to Burkina Faso, carrying 26 tonnes of humanitarian supplies and equipment needed for the coronavirus response in the country.

Since 2014, the EU has invested more than €3.4 billion in development cooperation for the three Central Sahel countries Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, with the objective to strengthen the capacities of the state in the long term, while providing a short and medium-term response to the needs of the most vulnerable population. The investments covered a broad range of areas: from security; good governance; transparency; public finance; the respect of human rights to basic social services (education, food security and health).

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.

‘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.

COVID19: Urpilainen announces €55M Kenya aid

“Team Europe stands by Kenya during Covid-19 with €55m package of support. €25m to ensure #SafeTrade at borders and to support #SMEs with affordable loans to stay afloat, €30M in budget support to #GoK to create space for priority public expenditure in response to pandemic” EU Commisisoner Jutta Urpilainen announced.

Kenyan relevant authorities announced 134 new positive cases on June 5, and 2,474 total confirmed cases, 51 new recoveries, 643 Total discharged and recovered, total 79 fatalities.

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