Wednesday

20th Jun 2018

Ashton to host global conference on north Africa

  • Egypt: upheaval in the region requires a co-ordinated global approach, says Brussels (Photo: hhesterr)

European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is to hold a high-level international conference in Brussels next week aiming to craft a global response to the upheaval in north Africa and the Middle East.

She is inviting senior officials from the United States, Japan, international financial institutions including the World Bank to the European capital, as well as from the region itself, to develop a co-ordinated global response to the historic changes in the region.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

"It is essential that the whole of the international community comes together on a strategy. We're hoping for something very substantial," an EU official told EUobserver.

Officials stress that the meeting is more ambitious than a donors' conference. "It's international, not EU, on the initiative of the high representative. The meeting is to exchange information and co-ordinate a response," said an EU diplomat.

"It's clear that we can't just have the EU acting. In order to maximise support, instead of us each doing our own thing separately, we need to pull together," added the source close to discussions, who preferred not to be named.

The conference is unlikely to be at the ministerial level, but rather a meeting of senior civil servants, probably including, from Egypt, the director-general of the foreign ministry.

While the attendees are to discuss the response to what has happened across the region, the focus, according to the contact "will obviously be on Tunisia and Egypt because that's where there has been concrete developments and needs. There are new administrations to deal with, but of course we will see what happens between now and then."

"Obviously this can be broadened. We've seen protests in Algeria, Jordan, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen."

EU assistance is focussed on five institutional areas Brussels feels is necessary for "deep democracy building": electoral reform, support for civil society, construction of an independent judiciary and a free press and media, and the fight against corruption.

Preparations of support for Tunisia are at the most advanced stage, with EU assistance to target impoverished areas in the centre and south of the country.

The idea is to develop a series of pilot projects for these regions modelled on the EU's own cohesion policies.

In discussion with Tunisian authorities, Europe is also looking to tighten economic governance over the longer term and support the recently established investigation committee on corruption and fraud.

The bloc is looking to strengthen the discourse on public financial management similar to efforts already underway as a part of ongoing trade liberalisation talks with Tunis.

The European Investment Bank has also opened a dialogue to increase the support ceiling for the region by an additional billion euros.

Tunisia could be a candidate for loans, but there are two conditions: The country must have to have a financing arrangement with the IMF, and begin to address its balance of payments financing gap.

Brussels is aware that opposition groups now entering government represent a mix of economic and ideological positions and that for many, the Western supported privatisation programmes of both regimes was seen as a source of corruption, and so the EU must carefully navigate these waters.

"But we cannot just give them these things. We have to have commitments from them in return," warned the source.

Greek bailout exit takes shape

At a meeting next week, eurozone finance ministers and the IMF are expected to agree on new cash, debt relief measures, and a monitoring mechanism to ensure that Greece can live without international aid for the first time since 2010.

Analysis

Beyond US dispute, EU still aiming at China

On the day it outlined its reaction to US tariffs on steel and aluminium, the EU commission also launched a case against China on property rights - an issue on which EU and US are working hand-in-hand.

Opinion

Eurozone needs institutional reform

Both the examples of Greece and Italy test the limits of a system with inherent weaknesses that feeds internal gaps, strengthens deficits and debts in the European South, and surpluses in the European North respectively.

Opinion

Europe could lose out in North Korean bonanza

South Korean businesses including Hyundai and Samsung are already scoping investment opportunities. Will North Korea become a 'new Vietnam' opportunity - or more like Myanmar, where slow Brussels policy-making meant EU exporters lost out.

News in Brief

  1. EU copyright vote 'could damage open internet'
  2. Merkel and Macron agree on eurozone budget
  3. Report: EU to look at outsourcing asylum
  4. EU court orders Le Pen to repay EU parliament
  5. Commission needs time to assess German Dieselgate fine
  6. Merkel and Macron meet over migration and eurozone
  7. Salvini plans census of Roma communities
  8. Slovenia to take Croatia to court in border row

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Latest News

  1. Hungary to push ahead with 'Stop Soros' law on NGOs
  2. Swedish party puts EU referendums back in fashion
  3. EU summit set to outsource asylum
  4. Dutch request to clarify Brexit Britons' rights annulled
  5. EU states set to back some asylum reform laws
  6. The Baltic 'Big Sea' strategy
  7. Orban to EPP: turn 'Christian democratic' or face challenge
  8. Is EU retail sector equipped for 21st century?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us