Saturday

25th May 2019

Turkey overshadows EU-Africa summit

The long red-carpeted corridors in the former Sacra Imfermeria of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in Malta’s capital city Valletta are crowded with EU leaders and other senior officials.

Lithuania’s president Dalia Grybauskaite is leaning up against a wooden rail, surrounded by aides, as she reads through a document.

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.

... or join as a group

Further down, Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief of staff Martin Selmayr is speaking with two men in grey suits. Nearby is Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

Behind the closed doors along the hall, bilateral meetings are taking place with African delegates following a two-day summit on slowing the number of migrants leaving for Europe.

Last year’s EU-Africa summit counted some 140 bilateral meetings in the margins. An EU official said a similar number is likely taking place at Valletta.

The end of the corridor leads to an enclosed courtyard. At the far end, on a bench, Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel sits alone.

The chancellor is facing an internal political struggle over Germany’s role on the larger migration crisis taking place in much of the EU.

Broader issues

Earlier this week, in a move which surprised many, her government lifted an asylum transfer ban under EU Dublin rules to send Syrian refugees arriving in Germany to other EU member states.

The Valletta summit on Africa seems almost like distraction from the broader issues on the home turf, with Sweden now imposing border controls and Slovenia erecting fences.

“The recent events in Germany, in Sweden, in Slovenia, all show with upmost clarity the huge pressure member states are facing,” EU Council chief Donald Tusk told reporters on Thursday (12 November).

“Saving Schengen is a race against time and we are determined to win that race.”

In Malta, Merkel along with 24 other EU leaders, had earlier in the day signed off an €1.88 billion EU Africa Trust Fund.

But Europe’s most powerful leader appeared preoccupied with other more pressing issues.

The Valletta summit is being followed by an informal meeting of EU leaders to discuss, in part, a broader deal that will see Turkey prevent people from entering Europe in exchange for some €3 billion.

Turkey wants an EU summit in Brussels dedicated to it to help raise its profile. An EU source says it could take place at the end of the month.

Merkel told press the summit would take place late November-early December.

Africa projects

Meanwhile, the Valletta Africa summit’s political declaration and action plan promise to launch over a dozen projects before the end of next year to help with issues like development and migration management.

It includes plans to “promote cheaper, safer, legally-compliant and faster transfers of remittances.”

Global annual remittances to Africa average around $586 billion. The World Bank says money transfer companies charge around 8 percent to send a couple of hundred dollars to Africa.

The Valletta plan wants to reduce it to less than 3 percent by 2030 and “eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 percent.”

But more savings could also be made elsewhere to help parts of Africa pull itself out of the development cycle.

Senegal president Macky Sall, who also chairs the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), said tax evasion and other fraudulent financial flows zaps the continent of some $50 billion ever year.

“We have sufficient resources in Africa, we could do without aid,” he said.

Sall said part of the problem is that Africa is not getting a fair pay for its natural resources.

“This is a combat that we have been taking everywhere, taking it to G7 to G20 to the United Nations and we’ve also raised this here,” he said.

But issues of corporate tax avoidance and fraud in Africa by EU-based companies is not mentioned anywhere in the Action Plan.

Instead, it uses broad terms about boosting public and private investment in favour of agriculture and rural economy development.

Schengen at risk of collapse, as EU looks to Turkey

The future of the free circulation "is at stake”, the EU Council chief said, while EU leaders try to gather money to face the migrant crisis and placate the Turkish government before another summit.

Exclusive

EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal

An Austrian criminal intelligence service persuaded Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini to set up a unit in Sicily against migrant smuggling, while in Senegal EU development money is financing an European-police led reform of Dakar's defence and interior ministries.

EU warns Hungary over Afghan refugees

Budapest tried and failed last week to deport three families to Afghanistan, and is accused of denying food to others stuck in its transit zone. The European Commission says it is taking the allegations "quite seriously."

Analysis

Bell tolls for EU asylum reforms

The cornerstone the EU's asylum reforms referred to by the shorthand as 'Dublin' could end up in the scrapheap following the European elections in May.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  2. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  3. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  4. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  5. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  6. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  7. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll
  8. No usage data kept for EU parliament's 'Citizens' App'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us