The European Business Council for Africa

Visiting Brussels on 4 June 2021, His Excellency Mr Kais Saied, the President of the Republic of Tunisia, held talks with His Excellency Mr Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, Her Excellency Ms Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission and His Excellency Mr David Maria Sassoli, the President of the European Parliament. These meetings provided an opportunity to underline the depth of historical ties between the European Union and Tunisia dating back almost half a century in a spirit of constantly evolving strategic partnership. 

This new phase of bilateral relations is based on shared values and a mutual commitment to strengthening political, economic and cultural ties between the two shores of the Mediterranean.

The talks, which took place in a very cordial atmosphere, focused on young people, education, culture and economic relations, which have been some of the key areas of cooperation between Tunisia and Europe in the last few years. Delivering on the priorities announced in the European Communication on the renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood and confirmed by the Council conclusions of April 2021 was also at the heart of these discussions. The two sides invoked the socio-economic impact of the crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic and social reforms needed to revive economic activity and growth. 

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.

Commissioner for International Partnerships and EU chief negotiator, Jutta Urpilainen, said: "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."

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) today received the European Union (EU)'s contribution of SDR 141 million (equivalent to €170 million or US$199 million) to the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT), which provides grants for debt service relief to countries hit by catastrophic events, including public health disasters such as COVID-19.

Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, said: “Through this contribution to the CCRT, Team Europe continues to stand in solidarity with its most vulnerable partners. In this difficult period, the resources freed up can provide social services for the most vulnerable people, such as access to essential healthcare and education for young people, including girls. Team Europe's Global Recovery Initiative is working to provide debt relief and sustainable investment for the SDGs.

The EU's generous contribution of €183 million is critical to help the world's most vulnerable countries cope with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and continue providing health care, economic and social support for their people. I am grateful to the EU and its member states for their support and strong partnership. I urge other countries to contribute to the CCRT so we can in turn support our most vulnerable member countries,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva noted.

03/04/2021 – HR/VP Blog - The humanitarian situation in the Ethiopian Tigray region remains very serious. This conflict threatens also to destabilise the whole Horn of Africa. I have asked Pekka Haavisto, Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, to travel to Ethiopia to repeat our requests to the government and assess the situation. For the EU, helping to stop the human right abuses in the Tigray region and restore peace in Ethiopia is a high priority.

Five months into the conflict, the situation in the Ethiopian Tigray region remains alarming. Active hostilities are ongoing in some parts of the federated state and humanitarian aid remains very limited because of fighting, highly fluid security situation and the low capacity of humanitarian actors to address the security risk effectively.

The European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa (EUTF for Africa) has launched today a virtual exhibition to celebrate its five years. The virtual exhibition “Stories from Africa” displays the achievements of the EUTF for Africa in the fields of migration, governance and conflict prevention, resilience, and the creation of employment and economic opportunities.

The EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, introduced the virtual exhibition by highlighting the impact of the EUTF on the cooperation with African partners: “After five years, the EUTF for Africa continues to demonstrate its added value, from a policy and partnership building perspective, but also by making a difference where it counts the most: on the ground in the real lives of people. Its valuable experience will feed into future programmes focusing on root causes of migration and forced displacement.”

Europe and Africa must move away from a donor-recipient relationship, Parliament says, as MEPs vision for a deeper relationship between the two continents.

On Thursday, MEPs adopted a wide-ranging strategy for a new EU-Africa partnership by 460 votes in favour, with 64 votes against and 163 abstentions.

The strategy emphasises that human development must be at the centre of future EU-Africa relations, prioritising education, including teacher training, reducing early school leaving, and concentrate on the inclusion of girls. A future EU-Africa strategy should also aim to improve health care and national health systems.

Additionally, MEPs call for cooperation on issues such as the green transition, energy, digital transformation, sustainable jobs, good governance and migration, as already identified by the Commission and the European External Action Service.

On Thursday, MEPs on the Foreign Affairs and Development committees approved the provisionally agreed Global Europe instrument, which will finance the EU's coming external action priorities.

The text was approved by 76 votes in favour, 13 against and 4 abstentions.

The new Global Europe instrument (the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument - NDICI) will total 79.5 billion EUR in current prices (70.8 billion EUR in 2018 prices) for 2021-2027 and used to support sustainable development in EU neighbourhood countries, Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Pacific and the Caribbean.

One of the 15 EU Flagship Programmes supported by the European Parliament in the previous negotiations on the new long-term EU budget, Parliament’s negotiators reached a political agreement with the Council representatives on the new instrument on 15 December last year. Here is the text of the provisional agreement.

The Council today adopted conclusions stressing on the one hand Ethiopia’s important role as a strategic partner and a key multilateral actor, and on the other hand reiterating the EU’s great concerns regarding the situation in the Tigray region and the wider region.

Ethiopia is currently in a complex domestic situation with major implications for the greater region. The armed conflict in the Tigray region exacerbates tensions in the Horn of Africa. Further military escalation and long-term instability must be avoided.

In the conclusions the EU urges all parties to immediately end violence in the Tigray region, and ensure full, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need in all areas.

While acknowledging the Ethiopian government’s work to address some of the needs of the population in the region, the EU stresses the need to increase these efforts, and guarantee full cooperation with the UN and all humanitarian organisations on the ground.

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) calls on the EU to make COVID-19 vaccines a global public good that is accessible to all.

The ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly (JPA) adopted on Friday a resolution calling on the EU and its member state to provide greater support to ACP countries, especially those with the most vulnerable populations and whose economies and health systems are most precarious.

Following the vote, Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Carlos Zorrinho (S&D, PT) said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that requires a global response. We therefore expect EU member states and ACP countries to cooperate constructively with each other to combat the pandemic within the framework of multilateral institutions. These are needed more than ever and should be strengthened even further, rather than being weakened. None of us are safe until all of us are safe.

#TeamEurope in action - Sierra Leone in the evening of Monday 8 March received the first AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines allocated through the COVAX Facility. The first delivery of 96.000 doses is part of a wave of arrivals of an initial 528,000 doses that will continue till end of May 2021

Vaccination in Sierra Leone should begin mid-March and will prioritise critical groups such as frontline health professionals, senior citizens, persons with underlying health conditions and political leaders, while the second phase will include other essential workers such as military, police personnel, and teachers/university lecturers. 

The lifesaving vaccines which are now available for COVID-19, combined with the other important measures which we have adopted since the outbreak started, will afford us a good prospect to return to normalcy.”, Minister Demby said during the handover ceremony.