Vienna, Austria. At Africa-Europe Forum, hosted jointly by the Austrian Presidency of the EU, notably by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and the Chairman of the African Union for 2018, President Jean-Claude Juncker reiterated Europe’s ambition for a true and fair partnership among equals between Africa and Europe. President Juncker presented the first results of the Africa–Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, just three months after its launch. The Alliance aims to deepen the economic and trade relations between the two continents, in order to create sustainable jobs and growth.
“Europe and Africa share a long history and a bright future. This is why I proposed a new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, to help attract both European and African investment and create 10 million jobs in Africa over the next five years. Translating words into action, we have already taken a series of measures to bring our ambitions to life” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.
The president is accompanied to the high-level Forum by vice-president Andrus Ansip, Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan and Commissioner for Digital Economy Mariya Gabriel.
The Africa-Europe Alliance, announced by president Juncker in his 2018 State of the Union Address, focuses on four key areas. Three months on, work is already well underway in each.
The EU External Investment Plan aims to raise significant sustainable investments in Africa and European neighbourhood countries by 2020. From the €44 billion announced, programmes already in the pipeline will mobilise €37.1 billion of investments.
New projects were announced today:
- An EU guarantee (NASIRA Risk-Sharing Facility), the first of its kind under the EU External Investment Plan, will use worth €75 million of EU funds to leverage up to €750 million of investments for entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa and the EU’s southern neighbourhood. Alone this is expected to create 800,000 jobs and benefit those who usually struggle to access affordable loans, such as small and medium sized enterprises, internally displaced people, refugees, returnees, women and young people.
- A new Agri-Business Capital fund worth €45 million will support smallholder agriculture by increasing access to finance for individual smallholder farmers. It is expected to attract more than €200 million in investments and benefit as many as 700,000 households in rural areas.
- To support the EU’s southern neighbourhood, a programme worth €61.1 million will supportsolar power plants in Morocco and €46.8 million will be invested in depolluting the Kitchener Drain in the Nile Delta region in Egypt.
Today in Brussels at the European Council the EU leaders will discuss the issue of migration There will be a report on progress, as agreed in the June European Council conclusions.
While considering all elements and taking a comprehensive approach to migration, the leaders are expected to focus particularly on three aspects in their discussions:
- cooperation with countries of origin and transit
- the fight against people smuggling networks
- the recent Commission proposals on returns, the Asylum Agency and the European Border and Coast Guard
The conclusions will also take into account the discussion already held at the informal leaders’ meeting in Salzburg on 20 September. The Austrian Chancellor is also expected to report on the reform of the Common European Asylum System and the prospects for progress on its various elements, also following the discussion held in the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 11-12 October.
“In the debate on migration, this has been a dead end in the conflict over quotas for many years. We now want to go the path of solidarity instead of obligatory quotas, where everyone contributes where they can. This is a very capable access” Austrian Cancellor Kurz said in his doorstep remarks.
There is still considerable pressure from the behalf of the Mediterranean flooded with migrants states to relocate them along all EU members, and reform the Dublin regulation, imposing all responsibility onto the first receiving state.
However the consequent refusal of a number of the EU states to accept migrants should be compensated by the governments by allocation of funds to share the burden to some extend.
While addressing migration issues the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini (pictured) called for “new equal political partnership” with Africa.
On 19 September the heads of state or government met for an informal working dinner on migration in Salzburg, Austria. Leaders discussed the latest developments in this area. They took note that the number of irregular arrivals has been reduced and is now even lower than in the years before the crisis.
The heads of state or government also agreed to strengthen cooperation with third countries, including Egypt.
“Together with chancellor Kurz we have started a dialogue with the Egyptian President and now we can say that there is a backing from the European Council for this and similar dialogues” said president of the EU Council Donald Tusk, who will meet President Al Sisi in September to take the cooperation forward. In this context, the leaders also agreed to organise a summit with the League of Arab States in February 2019.
European Parliament president Antonio Tajani insists on work with African partners to address the root causes of migration flows. Tajani also continues to promote a “true Marshall Plan” to be part of the next EU budget in order to attract investment, infrastructure and to develop an industrial base while creating hope and prospects for the next generations of Africans. However he admits that only ensuring secure external EU borders one can keep Schengen legislation alive. Tajani also looks forward working with Austrian presidency of EU on challenges of migration from Africa. (Image: EP president Antonio Tajani – right, and Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz – left).
According to French President Emmanuel Macron, the EU lacks solidarity and efficiency concerning migration. He underlined that the European borders must have better protection, whereas the mechanism of granting asylum must be unified. French president further pointed out that Europe’s response to migration crisis was outdated and reform was needed.
The meeting between the new Italian Prime minister Giuseppe Conte and the French president was jeopardized by a war of words following Rome’s decision to repel vessel #Aquarius carrying some 600 illegal migrants rescued in the Mediterranean.
During the press conference after the meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, French President Emmanuel Macron noted that talks of “axis” countries on migration are a reminder of “Europe’s unfortunate past history,” referring to the earlier remarks of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz that German, Austrian and Italian interior ministers form “axis” against illegal immigration.
As a possibility Macron and Conte offered to establish asylum processing centres in Africa, to prevent people risking their lives when crossing Mediterranean.