The European Business Council for Africa

The European Commission will invest €10 million in a new action that mainly targets agriculture value chains, where child labour is prevalent and exports to the EU significant. European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen announced it at the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour, which takes place in Durban, South Africa, on 15-20 May. The conference is organised by the government of South Africa, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Alliance 8.7.

“Child labour is a complex problem with many root causes. To address this, the EU has provided over €200 million to support 150 projects targeting child labour in 65 countries since 2008, and remains committed to exploring innovative approaches to intensify the fight against child labour. Today, I am proud to announce that, as we boost efforts to scale up food security in partner countries, the EU is investing €10 million in a new action to target child labour in agriculture value chains. By working strategically – whether it’s on value chains, education, or supporting livelihoods, we can get closer to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal of ending all forms of child labour by 2025. The EU is proud to be joining Alliance 8.7, and we look forward to working with all to enhance knowledge and scale up best practices that work,” said the Commissioner Urpilainen at the high-level panel.

HR/VP Blog – Last weekend I attended in Germany the G7 meeting of ministers of foreign affairs. One of our main topics was the massive negative impact on the world economy of the war on Ukraine with significant risks of destabilization in many regions and countries. It could also weaken international support to condemn Russian aggression as our video conference with the Indonesian foreign affairs minister confirmed. Europeans need to be fully aware of those risks and act to limit them globally.

Many voices are warning of the recession that the war against Ukraine could cause. “War sets back economic recovery” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated recently. "Is the global economy flying into a perfect storm, with Europe, China, and the United States all entering downturns at the same time later this year? ", the American economist Kenneth Rogoff asked. Such a negative dynamic could trigger a new global financial crisis.

Today, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed an ambitious Guarantee Agreement through which the European Commission will support up to €26.7 billion of EIB financial operations to enable crucial public investments in sectors like clean energy, digital and transport infrastructure, health and education over the next seven years, rolling out Global Gateway worldwide.

Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, said: “Today's landmark guarantee agreement with the European Investment Bank will enable to finance the implementation of our Economic and Investment Plans for the Western Balkans, the Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood. We launched these three substantial investment plans to support their post-COVID socio-economic recovery and to speed up the closing of their development gap with the EU. We worked together with the region to identify the key bottlenecks of their development. Although each investment plan is individually designed for the region it aims to build faster and more sustainable road, rail and digital connections, decarbonise the economies, ensure safe energy supplies, create sustainable business opportunities and put conditions in place that make the young generation stay in the region. In the next years together with the EIB we will be able to deliver in the Western Balkans, the Southern Neighbourhood, and the Eastern Partnership countries these much needed and awaited investments, bringing growth and jobs directly and on a larger scale than ever before.”

The brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine has provoked massive hikes in food prices and created the risk of food shortages. We must act now to protect the people affected. Last month, the Commission launched a plan to fight food insecurity and has already started its implementation. We took stock of the situation at the last College of Commissioners.

Food is essential for all of us, but this is particularly the case in developing countries where it represents a dominant part of household expenditure. Many of these countries depend heavily on imported food. North Africa and the Middle East in particular import over 50% of their cereal from Ukraine and Russia. Record food prices preceded the ‘Arab spring’ a decade ago and social tensions might mount again in the region. Others, like for instance Niger, Madagascar or Somalia, already face severe food crises, and Lebanon or Turkey are subject to major economic crises. The South Caucasus countries, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, are also in great danger due to their extreme reliance on imports from Russia and Ukraine.

In the context of the aggravation of the food security and nutrition due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the European Union is today reinforcing its political and financial commitment to partner countries in Africa. A total of €554 million in 2022 will be targeted at increasing food security in Sahel and Lake Chad, where millions of people already suffer an acute situation and whose situation could worsen.

The EU support, announced at the high-level event on food security in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions co-organised by the EU, the Sahel and West Africa Club and the Global Network against food crises, includes both a humanitarian response and support to work on the root causes of food insecurity in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Nigeria.

The 2022 edition of the European Development Days (EDD) will take place on 21 and 22 June under the theme ‘Global Gateway: building sustainable partnerships for a connected world’. The event will bring together high-level participants from around the world to take stock of progress on the implementation of the Global Gateway strategy.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “In a world marked by rising instability and shared global challenges, our partner countries need reliable friends. With Global Gateway, the European Union redoubles its efforts and offers partnership based on mutual values and common objectives for green, smart and inclusive investments. I’m looking forward to welcoming political leaders, representatives of civil society and the private sector from around the world to the European Development Days, where we will discuss concrete implementation of Global Gateway.”

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, added: “Global Gateway aims to mobilise up to €300 billion of investment by 2027, in a Team Europe approach between the EU, Member States, Development Financial Institutions, and the private sector. The Global Gateway Initiative has been largely welcomed, and several Member States have already presented their concrete contributions. The European Development Days will be the key event in 2022 to discuss how we, as Team Europe, can work with partner countries, including the private sector and European businesses, to deliver flagship initiatives.”

The European Commission adopted a roadmap to ensure a more impactful, efficient, coordinated and inclusive European financial architecture for development.

Amidst ongoing global geopolitical challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a new approach to EU’s cooperation with partner countries is needed, promoting EU political, economic and security interests around the world.

While the EU and its Members States are the world’s biggest development donor, public resources are not sufficient to address the magnitude of financing gaps for our partner countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), estimated at €3.7 trillion.

In light of the dire food security situation and high food prices, after two years of COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Commission is today stepping up its support to the transformation of food systems by actively engaging in eight global Coalitions for Action. These will assist partner countries in their efforts to transform food systems and help to advance the Farm to Fork Strategy agenda internationally. The decision to actively engage in these eight voluntary alliances for collective action is a follow-up to the Food Systems Summit held on 23-24 September 2021 in New York. The alliances gather national representatives, civil society organisations, researchers and international organisations to achieve transformation action in the field of food security. The Commission will be a major partner in eight coalitions:

The Commission and the World Health Organization (WHO) are strengthening their partnership to improve equitable access to safe, effective, and quality-assured vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa, Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced today in Geneva.

Commissioner Urpilainen said: “The European Union and WHO share a common ambition to boost local production capacity and access to quality, safe, effective and –importantly – affordable medicines and vaccines. Under the Team Europe initiative for local manufacturing in Africa, today with Dr. Tedros we agreed on stepping up support to our African partners in tackling some of the main barriers to access and availability, with concrete projects financed with at least €24.5 million from the EU budget. Together, we are strengthening the foundations of resilient health systems, universal health coverage and health security for now and in the future.”

The European Commission has launched a call for applications for up to 20 high-level members for the expert group on scaling up sustainable finance in low and middle income countries. The group will provide recommendations to prepare a dedicated Commission strategy that is scheduled for adoption in 2023. The strategy is part of the EU efforts to address inequalities and foster a green, just and resilient global recovery by mobilising private capital for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The call for applications is open until 27/04/2022.

European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “The pandemic has reversed years of progress on sustainable development, and now the war in Ukraine is affecting negatively the global economy, increasing the funding gap needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The EU has long supported partner countries in a strong, inclusive, green and digital recovery. As Team Europe, we are stepping up our efforts to accelerate the flow of private capital towards sustainable investments where it is the most needed so that no one is left behind. The forthcoming EU sustainable finance strategy for low and middle income countries will be in line with the EU Global Gateway strategy which will boost smart, clean and secure links in digital, energy and transport, and strengthen health, education and research systems. I invite high-level experts around the world to apply and help us build the forthcoming strategy on sustainable finance.”