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30th Oct 2020

EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit

  • EU Council president Donald Tusk (r) will speak on Jean-Claude Juncker's behalf at the G7 (Photo: Consilium)

EU Council president Donald Tusk is set to make a flurry of pledges at the upcoming G7 summit, committing the EU to shore up a number of funds and create binding transparency measures on pay.

"Tusk is also going to speak on behalf of the [European] Commission, that is something new for us, normally we are not allowed to make financial pledges," a senior EU official told reporters in Brussels on Thursday (22 August).

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EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will not be attending the summit in Biarritz due to poor health, putting Tusk at the helm of the institution for the event.

The official added Tusk "will represent the whole of the EU and also will make commitments on behalf of the commission".

Those commitments include repeating earlier promises by commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen for binding pay transparency measures in the EU within the first 100 days of her office.

Tusk is also expected to offer EU money to support an international fund for survivors of conflict related sexual violence, also known as the Mukwege fund.

Further EU money will go to boost a global fund to fight Aids, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The EU will also back an initiative by the African Development Bank to ease loans through African banks and micro-finance institutions for over 100,000 women-led businesses in Africa.

It is not immediately clear how much money will go to these funds. Tusk is set to disclose figures at the summit.

Sahel in Africa

Aside from the money, the EU will also seek to provide further support to African states hosting some 5,000 EU co-financed troops in an area known as the Sahel.

The troops are said to be there to fight terrorism, although conflict and strife throughout the region has surged since the start of the year.

The UN earlier this year said the number of people displaced by violence throughout the Sahel had increased five-fold in the past year alone, to more 330,000 people, in addition to some 100,000 refugees.

EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini had already over the summer pledged an additional €138m to the troops or so-called G5 Sahel forces spread out across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.

The EU had initially mobilised some €50m to help fund the five-nation army, which it says is used to provide "non-lethal equipment, services, and infrastructure."

Despite autocratic governments in Chad and elsewhere, the EU is working with them anyway given its security priority for the region.

The EU now believes it can further quell the unrest by increasing defence and internal security coordination among the five African states in a move also set to be announced by Tusk this weekend.

Russia and Iran

Aside from the pledges, the EU says it intends to defend and promote the logic of the rules based international order.

It will also refuse to reinstate Russia into the larger G8 format following Moscow's annexation of Crimea, despite increasing US pressure to do so from president Donald Trump.

"The EU will be against any idea of re inviting Russia to the G7," said the senior EU official, noting that similar statements had been made by Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel.

Tusk is also set to meet with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky before the Biarritz summit, which kicks off on Saturday evening and ends on Monday.

The leaders, on Sunday, will discuss easing trade tensions given the spat between Trump and others including China on tariffs.

On the foreign affairs front, the focus of talks will be on Iran and Russia although some points will also be made on North Korea and Venezuela.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has said there would be no final summit communique, as in the past, amid fears that Trump might have threatened not to sign up to climate pledges.

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