Tag Archives: Strasbourg

Urpilainen committed to Africa

“…On our first trip outside Europe, President Von der Leyen and I went to hear Africa. We experienced a continent of youth, brimming with confidence, full of potential, attractive for the global players. We met a partner that deserves a more positive engagement from us.

“We have already paved the way for change with the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, supported by the External Investment Plan for sustainable investments, and have achieved – in such a short amount of time – tangible progress. Now, we can capitalise on those achievements and go further. It is time for a new chapter that brings a step change in our relationship. For that to happen, we need a new comprehensive strategy.

“A strategy that supports Africa’s political, economic, governance efforts, and its moves to bolster peace and resilience. A strategy with Africa that ensures partners’ ownership and commitment. A strategy that positions better the EU in the new global context, reflecting the aims of this geopolitical Commission and the ambitions of the European Green Deal.

“The Abidjan priorities we set back in 2017 remain valid today; our approach is not to change direction, but to step up a gear for better results.

“The strategy’s comprehensive character will be ensured by its inbuilt links with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate change, the EU Global Strategy, and the European Consensus on Development.

“We will continue to work on economic continental integration, human development, mobility and migration. Thematically, apart from addressing the climate and environmental challenges, we will focus on digitalisation and gender equality, which are major enablers for development. There could not be development without solid governance, respect of human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Therefore, we will pursue our efforts in these areas along with the fight for peace, security and against extremism. Finally yet importantly, we would like to work closer with our African partners on the multilateral rules-based system that is more and more being called into question.

“A key priority through my mandate, I will ensure that the implementation of this Strategy unleashes the power that youth represents. Young people must also own this Strategy.

“Work on the new ambitious framework is already ongoing, both at political and technical level. In the meantime, we continue listening and trying to ensure broad ownership of the Strategy both by yourselves and our Member States, as well as by our African Partners, and civil society, including young people.

“We will hold an EU-AU College-to-College meeting on the 27th of February in Ethiopia and a ministerial meeting in May. Both events will provide key opportunities for dialogue with our African partners.

“The proposal for the new strategy will be on our College agenda for adoption on early March that will mark the beginning of a more concrete work with our key stakeholders…” Strasbourg, 11 Feb 2020 – Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen

 

Security situation in Burkina Faso

Over the past months, we have seen a continued and dramatic deterioration of the security situation in Burkina Faso. I would like to start by expressing our solidarity with the people of Burkina. More than 200 people were killed so far in 2019, including 60 victims in the last month” said Tytti TUPPURAINEN (pictured), Finnish Presidency, in the speech on behalf of High Representative Federica Mogherini at the European Parliament September Strasbourg plenary debate on the security situation in Burkina Faso. (16/09/2019).

“This insecurity climate puts more pressure on already overstretched social servicesThe number of internally displaced persons is now reaching 300,000 people, posing a serious challenge to the delivery of food, health or sanitation services, but also in terms of social cohesion.

The jihadist groups are now targeting both security forces and civilians, with a clear strategy to foster local antagonisms and create a circle of vengeance between different communities. They are trying to incite a war of religion, in a country that has a long history of peaceful coexistence between faiths and communities.

“The European Union is today closer than ever to the people of Burkina Faso. The country is currently at the heart of our action in the Sahel. In the last seven years we have mobilised more than one billion euros for development programs in Burkina.

“High Representative [of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica] Mogherini was in Ouagadougou over the summer, on the occasion of the fifth annual Ministerial meeting between the EU and the G5 Sahel. During the meeting, she announced an extra €138 million in support the Joint military force of the G5 Sahel, which has an important role in fighting terrorism and organised crime across the region.

“Our military and civilian missions in the Sahel are also working more and more across the region, alongside with French operation Barkhane.

“Coordination between security and development policies is one of the essential challenges, and this was one of the main messages that the High Representative [Federica Mogherini] delivered during her visit.

“We are glad that the G5 countries have committed to adopting an Integrated Strategic Framework, precisely to synchronise their efforts on security and on development and to identify priority regions for their action.

“The government of Burkina has also extended the emergency plan for the Sahel to its eastern regions, which is a positive development.

During her visit Ms Mogherini called for urgent progress on security sector reform. The fight against terrorism can only bear fruit if security forces respect the rule of law and human rights. This is the only way to build trust between State authorities and all sectors of the population.

“The recent national dialogue is an important building block for national cohesion. It is crucial that all ethnic communities in Burkina feel that they are part of a common national family. As the terrorist foster hatred and inter-ethnic tensions, the State should push in the opposite direction and invest in a shared sense of belonging for all its citizens.

“Security is vital, but it is not the only answer to the challenges that the country is facing. Linking political, security and development issues will be more and more essential. Let me just mention that, during her trip to Burkina, the High Representative also visited an EU-funded school – because education is the foundation of any country’s strength.

“International coordination is also crucial, and the EU is willing to engage even more with the whole region. This is the reason why we took the opportunity of the ECOWAS extraordinary summit on terrorism in Ouagadougou last Saturday to discuss with countries of the wider region how they can contribute more to contrast terrorism and how we can coordinate our respective actions.

“Since 2015, a peaceful country like Burkina Faso has had to face unprecedented violence. We Europeans have stepped up our support to stop this escalation, to stabilise a crucial region for our own security, and to help the people of the Sahel take their future into their hands. We will continue to be a strong partner for Burkina and for its people”

(Link to the concluding remarks https://europa.eu/!Tp64DB)

 

China trade in donkey hides devastates communities

Describing the scale of the animal abuse in Chinese trade in donkey hides and its devastating impact for local communities in developing countries, especially in Africa, the Members of the European Parliament called for an urgency of action to protect the equidae as an indefensible contributor to harmonious rural lifestyle.

During the European Parliament Strasbourg Plenary MEPs of the EU Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals considered the welfare of equines – horses, donkeys and hybrids, largely neglected within the existing laws and suffering abuses in Europe, however it is the Chinese traditional medicine, which causes the most abhorrent practices, with systemic torturing and killing of donkeys in pursue of their precious hides. Some farms in Europe also act as suppliers of donkey hides for China, however their activities are far too small to cover the huge demand of Chinese traditional medicine, looking for the animals all over the world, including the poorest villages in Africa, where people depend on donkeys for transport of water and goods.

Chaired by Jacqueline Foster MEP (ECR, UK),  the hearing featured speakers from World Horse Welfare, The Donkey Sanctuary and BrookeAction for Working Horses and Donkeys shared the numerous problems of equines welfare in the EU and worldwide, especially abhorrent abuses of donkeys in Chinese trade.

The Intergroup focused on the trade of donkey hides and the social, economic, and welfare problems that it raises. Ian Arthur Cawsey, UN Ambassador at The Donkey Sanctuary, explained the threat this trade represents, causing a global crisis for donkeys welfare, and even more so for people who depend on them.

During the last decades, China has seen the demand for donkey skins explode to produce ‘ejiao’, a substance used in traditional medicine, health and beauty products. Currently, the Chinese demand is assessed around 4 million donkey skins a year. As the result the global trade in animals increases, and donkeys are being traded and stolen all around the world.

However, these animals support the livelihood of 500 million people across the world and some of the world’s poorest communities. When donkeys are sold or stolen, the additional burden of taking on their work often falls on the most vulnerable members of the society: children and women. “If you have no donkey, you are a donkey yourself“, explains the Ethiopian proverb, hinting on animal key function in fulfilling daily hard work.

Since the skin is valued so much more than the meat, the premature death of the donkeys from deprivation of food and water is actually considered  by Chinese traders as ‘helpful’. The cruel practices also raise serious concerns for public health and the environment, while the growing Chinese demand for donkey skins clearly will never lead to regulated, humane or sustainable production practices.

Petra Ingram, Chief Executive Officer of the Brooke – Action for Working Horses and Donkeys, and Dr. Jennifer Wathan, Senior Manager, gave a presentation on the local impact of the trade in donkey hides on livelihoods in Africa, advocating to think global and act local. A donkey is a valuable asset that provides multiple essential functions to a household. The growing Chinese trade of donkey skins therefore deeply impacts poorest communities in Africa.

Donkeys provide a huge contribution in developing countries all over the world. For example, every day a donkey earns users and owners in Kenya between $5-12, doing tasks such as collecting water, carrying goods to market or in farming. Loss of a donkey not only results in that income being jeopardised, but also increases the burden on families to carry out manual work themselves. Our research shows that vulnerable people are particularly affected, especially women and the elderly who use their donkeys for daily chores and transportation. This can even keep children out of school” Petra Ingram said.

“We hope that highlighting this issue to the MEPs who attended or observed online today will prompt more research, and ultimately bring us closer to tackling the devastating effects of an unregulated trade in donkey hides. Brooke has made some progress, but this is a global crisis, too large for us and other charities to tackle in isolation, so we must work together to raise awareness and gather more evidence to support positive change for the donkeys and the people who depend on them,” Ingram concluded.

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Ramaphosa addresses Europarliament

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has addressed MEPs in a formal sitting in Strasbourg on Wednesday, 14 November during Plenary week.

In view of upcoming VII EU-South Africa Summit in Brussels on 15 November the EU-South Africa strategic relations and cooperation, peace and security in Africa  are among the issues addressed in Mr Ramaphosa’s  speech.

 

The development and trade are the priorities and focus of the bilateral relations between the EU and South Africa.

Through his address President Ramaphosa confirmed his loyalty to the heritage of Nelson Mandela, and determination to continue the development of South Africa in his footsteps.

This millennium Mr.Ramaphosa is the second South African President to deliver a speech in the House since his predecessor Thabo Mbeki took floor in November 2004.

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EU towards “new partnership” with Africa

‘To speak of the future, one must speak of Africa – Europe’s twin continent.
Africa is the future: By 2050, Africa’s population will number 2.5 billion. One in four people on earth will be African” – said Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission in his 2018 State of Union speech.

“We need to invest more in our relationship with the nations of this great and noble continent. And we have to stop seeing this relationship through the sole prism of development aid. Such an approach is beyond inadequate, humiliatingly so.
Africa does not need charity, it needs true and fair partnerships. And Europe needs this partnership just as much.
“In preparing my speech today, I spoke to my African friends, notably Paul Kagame, the Chairperson of the African Union. We agreed that donor-recipient relations are a thing of the past. We agreed that reciprocal commitments are the way forward. We want to build a new partnership with Africa.

“Today, we are proposing a new Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs between Europe and Africa. This Alliance – as we envision it – would help create up to 10 million jobs in Africa in the next 5 years alone. We want to create a framework that brings more private investment to Africa. We are not starting from scratch: our External Investment Plan, launched two years ago, will mobilise over €44 billion in both the public and private investment. Alone the projects already in the pipeline will unlock €24 billion.
We want to focus our investment where it matters the most. By 2020, the EU will have supported 35,000 African students and researchers with our Erasmus programme. By 2027, this figure should reach 105,000.

“Trade between Africa and Europe is not insignificant. 36% of Africa’s trade is with the European Union. This compares to 16% for China and 6% for the United States. But this is not enough. I believe we should develop the numerous European-African trade agreements into a continent-to continent free trade agreement, as an economic partnership between equals”.

MEPs denounce violations of human rights in Burundi

During European Parliament Strasbourg plenary week, the MEPs denounced the intimidation, repression and the harassment of journalists and human rights defenders, and urged Burundian authorities to guarantee the respect of the rule of law and human rights, such as the right of freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

They demand an end to any further payments to the Burundian troops engaged in UN and AU peacekeeping missions, which have been used by the government to conceal domestic problems in the country.

The European Parliament appeals to governments in the region to ensure that the return of refugees is voluntary, based on informed decisions and carried out in safety and dignity. 413 000 people have fled the country since the President announced that he will run for a third term.

The resolution was adopted by raising hands.

President Lourenço calls for closer EU-Angola cooperation

EU-Angola relations and cooperation, development, migration and promoting stability, growth and jobs in the African continent were among the issues addressed during Mr João Lourenço’s first official visit to the European Parliament.

The President of Angola stressed the need to address common challenges together, such as migration, calling for a closer cooperation to help African countries to develop, create jobs and business opportunities.

Angola is determined in enhancing democracy, to opening up to the world and investments, Mr Lourenço said. Africa and Europe will only have to gain if African people can stay, live and work in their continent, he told MEPs.

The EU must strengthen its action in Angola and, more in general, in Africa,’’ said European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, following the meeting with the President of Angola. Mr Tajani reiterated the need for a comprehensive Marshall Plan for Africa to help mobilise investments.

‘…At the end of his European Parliament speech, while President Joao Lourenço, of Angola, was leaving EP plenary, I managed to greet him and to ask him this question about Rafael Marques de Morais, and the corrupt ex-Prosecutor. He smiled and shrugged…” – wrote in her Twitter microblog Portugese Socialist MEP Ana Gomes.

 

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