Monday

9th Dec 2019

North Africa revolutions spotlight EU policy further south

  • EU Council head Van Rompuy (r) and African Union commission head Jean Ping at the previous Africa summit in Libya in 2010 (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The recent wave of pro-democracy revolutions in north Africa and the implications for EU relations with the wider continent are among the thorny topics set to dominate an EU-Africa meeting next week.

Sub-Saharan Africa still counts a number of repressive leaders amongst its ranks, while discussions on conflict resolution in Libya could also prove divisive. The African Union favours a ceasefire in its member state, while European airplanes are among those actively bombing military targets near Tripoli and elsewhere in the country.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The two-day meeting in Brussels (31 May - 1 June) will take place between members of the European Commission and the African Union (AU) Commission, with AU chairman Jean Ping among the eight senior African officials scheduled to visit the European capital.

Despite recent alterations to the EU's neighbourhood policy, under which funding for recipient north African and east European states will become increasingly tied to reforms, an equivalent tightening is less evident for sub-Saharan Africa.

"We are shaping a new policy ... but the question of repressive regimes is not as simple as saying 'now you don't get any more money'," Klaus Rudischhauser, director for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries with the commission told journalists at a briefing on Friday (27 May). "Things are a little bit more complex but they are on the agenda."

European development commissioner Andris Piebalgs is scheduled to publish a communication this autumn, outlining "new orientations" for the bloc's development policy, including aid criteria for countries with governance problems.

"The aim of our development policy is poverty reduction. That means finding a way to do something for people on the ground, without doing too much to support the government of which we may not approve," Rudischhauser said.

He also noted that the EU has been largely responsible for tackling the humanitarian crisis caused by the Libyan conflict, and pointed to divisions within the African Union itself: "As strongly as it acts when there is a coup d'etat, excluding governments which have an unconstitutional change of government ... Libya remains a member of the African Union."

Other key African developments are expected to appear on the agenda, including the recent installment of Alassane Ouattara as president of the Ivory Coast and Sudan's imminent division into two states.

A series of thematic sessions will precede a plenary session between the two colleges, with a meeting on security set to address issues of drugs trafficking and maritime piracy. Economic growth, regional integration, the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, agriculture and food security are also set to be discussed in the thematic meetings.

The subject of mineral exploitation has been added to the list of debates, with a recent EU raw materials communication underlying Europe's determination to secure sufficient access of supply.

At the same time, NGOs and some MEPs are pressing the EU to introduce new rules to stamp out 'conflict minerals' from entering Europe, with the control of lucrative mining businesses in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo widely reported to be fueling the region's ongoing bloody conflict, born out the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

The United States is in the process of introducing a system of 'due diligence' reporting for companies listed on American stock exchanges, under which firms must ensure minerals such as tin, tungsten and tantalum are sourced from de-militarized mines.

"The EU is considering this issue but has nothing planned for the moment," a source indicated to this website on the due diligence issue.

They also confirmed that an assessment over the need for EU special envoys could see the region's representative in the African Great Lake's region being scrapped. "There is a process of review underway at the moment. EU delegations under the external action service can do a lot of the work formerly carried out by special envoys," said the official.

Investigation

Congo fatigue: EU funding in the heart of Africa

The Democratic Republic of Congo was last year the largest recipient of EU support among ACP states. But critics say this approach has failed, drawing a question mark over the EU's next step.

Zahradil conflict of interest probe may flounder

The European Parliament's internal body, designed to sanction MEPs for conflicts of interests, has failed to deliver any meaningful verdicts. Some are hoping a future proposal for a new independent ethics body will help hold MEPs accountable.

Investigation

Data watchdog raps EU asylum body for snooping

The European Asylum Support Office combed through social media to monitor refugee routes to Europe for three years. The agency sent weekly reports on its findings to member states, the EU Commission and institutions such as UNHCR and Interpol.

Investigation

Pesticide chlorpyrifos banned by EU

EU member states have voted to ban from the market chlorpyrifos, a pesticide which is toxic to the brain in both its forms, and has been the subject of a long-running Le Monde and EUobserver investigation.

Guns blaze in Ukraine as leaders meet in Paris

Hundreds of explosions and bursts of small arms fire were reported on the contact line in east Ukraine, as France prepares to host the first peace summit on the war in three years.

Energy treaty 'undermines success of Green Deal'

Over 250 civil society organisations and trade unions say that the Energy Charter Treaty is incompatible with the Paris Climate Agreement and the new Green Deal - becoming an obstacle to the clean-energy transition.

News in Brief

  1. EU agrees future human rights sanctions
  2. Greens demand Zahradil conflict of interest probe
  3. EU commission to 'correct mistake' on enlargement
  4. Luxembourg pushes EU to recognise Palestine
  5. Minister: 'All Brussels kids should be trilingual at 18'
  6. Macron pushes pension reform despite protests
  7. Marin becomes Finland's youngest prime minister
  8. Greece denies access to fair asylum process, report says

Agenda

UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK

EU leaders will try to agree on the 2050 emission-free target - but they will deeply disagree on EU spending over the next seven years. Meanwhile the UK will elect its new political leadership.

Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres

A trend has emerged over the past few months where desperate people are paying to get locked up in Libyan detention centres to escape the conflict and with the hope they stand a better chance of getting resettled to Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us