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Towards a new EU strategy with Africa: A renewed focus on outreach

12-06-2020

Africa has been put at the core of the Commission's geopolitical work programme. In March 2020, the European Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign and Security Policy proposed to build a new and comprehensive partnership with Africa. Although the proposal mainly builds on existing frameworks, its high profile and clear commitment to the African Union (AU) make it an important milestone in a partnership effort initiated several years ago. In order to preserve its own economic ...

Africa has been put at the core of the Commission's geopolitical work programme. In March 2020, the European Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign and Security Policy proposed to build a new and comprehensive partnership with Africa. Although the proposal mainly builds on existing frameworks, its high profile and clear commitment to the African Union (AU) make it an important milestone in a partnership effort initiated several years ago. In order to preserve its own economic and security interests in the face of increased geopolitical competition, the EU intends to continue to be an important player on the African continent. The EU and the AU have converging interests in a number of areas, such as the fight against climate change and the promotion of a sustainable, job-creating African economy. However, they still have to find common ground on migration, security management, and fundamental values. The comprehensiveness of the proposed strategy is challenged by the gaps and overlaps of the current variable-geometry partnerships. The coronavirus outbreak will probably lead to a redefinition of the strategy's priorities even before it is adopted. At the same time, it shows the need to strengthen the links between the two continents in order to tackle the most urgent global issues.

The EU and multilateral conflict management: The case of the Central African Republic

10-06-2020

The EU supports multilateralism in the furtherance of peace and security, acting as a partner to both the United Nations and regional organisations in the effort to prevent violent conflicts, mitigate their consequences and aid long-term recovery. A significant share of EU development cooperation is dedicated to fragile and conflict-afflicted countries or areas whose populations suffer prolonged humanitarian crises. One such country, the Central African Republic (CAR), ranks second last in the Human ...

The EU supports multilateralism in the furtherance of peace and security, acting as a partner to both the United Nations and regional organisations in the effort to prevent violent conflicts, mitigate their consequences and aid long-term recovery. A significant share of EU development cooperation is dedicated to fragile and conflict-afflicted countries or areas whose populations suffer prolonged humanitarian crises. One such country, the Central African Republic (CAR), ranks second last in the Human Development Index and has been confronted with a complex emergency requiring a multi-faceted response. The country remains profoundly affected by the violent upheaval that displaced a quarter of its population and decimated its economy in 2013. Multiple armed groups control or contest about 80 % of the national territory, benefiting from illicit activities and the lucrative circulation of arms, fighters and natural resources across porous borders, as the state builds up institutions that have traditionally held little sway outside the capital Bangui. The EU – the country's biggest donor – is part of a dense UN-led network of external actors committed to supporting the government and the national partners in the pursuit of peace among the parties to the conflict. No previous peace accord has been the object of so much effort from the international community as the political agreement brokered in February 2019 in Khartoum. Its tenuous implementation has reduced overall levels of insecurity without winning all hearts and minds. The EU has developed a particular synergy with the UN on security sector reform. As the CAR prepares for political wrangling at the ballot box in 2020, the EU will, at a pivotal moment, launch a new civilian Advisory Mission (EUAM RCA) alongside the existing military Training Mission (EUTM RCA).

Coronavirus in Africa: A crisis with multiple impacts

07-05-2020

At the beginning of May, the number of Covid-19 cases in Africa was lower than in other regions of the world. North African countries and South Africa are the most affected by the pandemic. Limited testing capacity and Africa's young population are often mentioned as possible explanations for this overall low rate. The very early preventive measures adopted by most governments are also credited for slowing down the spread of the disease. Africa's medical systems are poorly equipped to handle a massive ...

At the beginning of May, the number of Covid-19 cases in Africa was lower than in other regions of the world. North African countries and South Africa are the most affected by the pandemic. Limited testing capacity and Africa's young population are often mentioned as possible explanations for this overall low rate. The very early preventive measures adopted by most governments are also credited for slowing down the spread of the disease. Africa's medical systems are poorly equipped to handle a massive epidemic, despite notable recent progress in preparedness for epidemics in general and increased testing capacity for the coronavirus. On the other hand, African economies have been severely hit by the pandemic. The drop in oil and other commodity prices, the disruption in global supply chains affecting African exporters, the drying up of external financial flows compounding an already difficult financial situation for many states, as well as the effects of confinement particularly on urban populations living off informal daily activities, are taking a heavy toll on the continent's economies. This creates a risk of social instability, with poorer people already facing food deprivation in urban slums. Long-term confinement and social distancing are simply impossible in many African settings. The pandemic has also affected the fragile democratic institutions of some African countries. Restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, as well as the postponement of elections can undermine recent democratic progress. Africa needs massive help to overcome these challenges. The international community has prepared various packages, including a debt moratorium to relieve the economic and financial burden. The European Union is refocusing the funds earmarked for Africa to fighting the pandemic. The consequences of the outbreak will profoundly reshape the discussions on a renewed Africa-EU partnership, and if correctly seized, might be the opportunity to strengthen this partnership.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea: EU and international action

12-03-2020

The Gulf of Guinea is framed by 6 000 km of west African coastline, from Senegal to Angola. Its sea basin is an important resource for fisheries and is part of a key sea route for the transport of goods between central and southern Africa and the rest of the world. Its geo-political and geo-economic importance has grown since it has become a strategic hub in global and regional energy trade. Every day, nearly 1 500 fishing vessels, cargo ships and tankers navigate its waters. The security of this ...

The Gulf of Guinea is framed by 6 000 km of west African coastline, from Senegal to Angola. Its sea basin is an important resource for fisheries and is part of a key sea route for the transport of goods between central and southern Africa and the rest of the world. Its geo-political and geo-economic importance has grown since it has become a strategic hub in global and regional energy trade. Every day, nearly 1 500 fishing vessels, cargo ships and tankers navigate its waters. The security of this maritime area is threatened by the rise of piracy, illegal fishing, and other maritime crimes. Regional actors have committed to cooperate on tackling the issue through the 'Yaoundé Code of Conduct' and the related cooperation mechanism and bodies. The international community has also pledged to track and condemn acts of piracy at sea. The European Union (EU), which has a strong interest in safeguarding its maritime trade and in addressing piracy's root causes, supports regional and international initiatives. The EU is also implementing its own maritime security strategy, which includes, among other features, a regional component for the Gulf of Guinea; this entails EU bodies' and Member States' cooperation in countering acts of piracy, as well as capacity-building projects. This briefing draws from and updates the sections on the Gulf of Guinea in 'Piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Africa', EPRS, March 2019.

Accords internationaux en marche: Le futur partenariat de l’UE avec les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (« post-Cotonou »)

19-02-2020

L’accord de partenariat entre l’Union européenne et les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (ACP) devait expirer en février 2020. La renégociation de cet « Accord de Cotonou » offre l’opportunité de revoir les relations entre les pays ACP et l’Union en tenant compte des objectifs de développement durable des Nations unies, de la redéfinition des stratégies européennes dans les régions concernées, des nouvelles ambitions des pays ACP et de l’évolution de l’équilibre des pouvoirs au niveau ...

L’accord de partenariat entre l’Union européenne et les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (ACP) devait expirer en février 2020. La renégociation de cet « Accord de Cotonou » offre l’opportunité de revoir les relations entre les pays ACP et l’Union en tenant compte des objectifs de développement durable des Nations unies, de la redéfinition des stratégies européennes dans les régions concernées, des nouvelles ambitions des pays ACP et de l’évolution de l’équilibre des pouvoirs au niveau mondial. Le principal défi pour l’Union européenne est de maintenir ses relations dans les trois sous-régions, tout en restant fidèle aux valeurs promues dans les traités européens. La question du financement est également sur la table. Le groupe ACP et l’Union européenne ont adopté leurs mandats de négociation respectivement en mai et juin 2018 et les négociations ont débuté en septembre 2018. Les parties prenantes se sont accordées sur le principe d’un socle commun complété par trois protocoles régionaux. Ces négociations à plusieurs niveaux ainsi que les discussions en cours sur le futur budget de l’UE ont empêché de finaliser l’accord à temps. Afin d’éviter un vide juridique dans les relations après l’échéance prévue de l’accord de Cotonou, les dispositions de ce dernier ont été prolongées jusqu’au 31 décembre 2020 au plus tard. Quatrième édition. Les Briefings 'Accords internationaux en marche' sont actualisés à des étapes clés de la procédure de ratification. Versions précédentes de ce briefing : PE 625.111, juillet 2018, PE 630.280, novembre 2018, PE 637.981, juillet 2019.

Understanding development effectiveness: Concepts, players and tools

09-01-2020

In the context of the limited availability of development aid, there is an increased demand for effective results. This means that both developing and richer countries must commit to spending and using aid more effectively. Public funding is not enough to cover all needs, but it can leverage initiatives from civil society and the private sector. The increase in stakeholders and intervention methods, both in terms of numbers and variety, combined with the necessity to address needs in the field more ...

In the context of the limited availability of development aid, there is an increased demand for effective results. This means that both developing and richer countries must commit to spending and using aid more effectively. Public funding is not enough to cover all needs, but it can leverage initiatives from civil society and the private sector. The increase in stakeholders and intervention methods, both in terms of numbers and variety, combined with the necessity to address needs in the field more precisely, has led to a global rethinking of how to assess development. High-level forums and stakeholder networks have helped to fine-tune the main principles of development effectiveness and to shift from a donor-recipient relationship to a more cooperative framework. Methods and tools have improved and led to better planning, implementation and appraisal of development projects. The EU has been closely involved in designing and implementing the effectiveness principles. The European Parliament often refers to them, insisting that they must not be sacrificed for the sake of short-term interests. This briefing is an update of a previous edition from April 2017.

Reporting on SDG implementation: UN mechanisms and the EU approach

20-12-2019

Adopted in 2015 by the United Nations (UN), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – 'the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all' – clearly links the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) it introduced to a series of targets to be reached by 2030. The 2030 Agenda includes a detailed mechanism to monitor progress with regard to these targets. At the core of this mechanism are a number of quantified indicators for each target that are regularly revised by the UN and ...

Adopted in 2015 by the United Nations (UN), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – 'the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all' – clearly links the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) it introduced to a series of targets to be reached by 2030. The 2030 Agenda includes a detailed mechanism to monitor progress with regard to these targets. At the core of this mechanism are a number of quantified indicators for each target that are regularly revised by the UN and other international agencies. These agencies and the EU provide support to national statistical services across the world in collecting data for the SDG indicators in order to gather reliable and comparable datasets. These data feed the voluntary national reports that countries prepare to exchange good practices and advice on tackling the challenges they encounter in implementing their SDG strategies. High-level forums take stock of both progress and weaknesses in implementation, so as to ensure that everybody is on track in pursuing the SDGs. The EU has long experience in collecting consistent data from its Member States. The European Union Statistical Office (Eurostat) has created a set of sustainable development indicators that provide a good overview of progress within the EU; yet, according to analysts, these indicators do not give a clear picture of the risks of not attaining some goals by 2030. EU development cooperation services have devised a framework of indicators to assess how EU support contributes to other countries' implementation of the SDGs. However, the European Parliament and other stakeholders regret that the spill-over effect of EU policies on third countries remains a blind spot in the evaluation of the EU's contribution to the SDGs. Although technical in nature, SDG indicators and data also have a political dimension, as they clearly measure countries' and other stakeholders' achievements against their own commitments.

Understanding the Sustainable Development Goals

13-12-2019

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be attained by 2030, as a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) and the Rio+20 Summit (2012). Unlike their predecessors, the SDGs commit both developed and developing countries, and embrace the economic, environmental and social aspects of development. The SDGs and the broader 2030 Agenda for sustainable development of which they form the core, are based on the findings that human activities have ...

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be attained by 2030, as a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) and the Rio+20 Summit (2012). Unlike their predecessors, the SDGs commit both developed and developing countries, and embrace the economic, environmental and social aspects of development. The SDGs and the broader 2030 Agenda for sustainable development of which they form the core, are based on the findings that human activities have triggered dramatic changes in the conditions on Earth (climate change and biodiversity loss), which in turn have contributed to the deterioration of human well being. To reverse the trend, there is an urgent need to simultaneously address the multiple causes and consequences of environmental depletion and social inequalities, by developing synergies and managing trade-offs between the SDGs. Challenges in pursuing the SDGs include the fact that countries do not necessarily have an equal start and, even more importantly, that regardless of their stage of development, they can no longer afford to apply the current development model, where production and consumption happen at the expense of natural resources. According to many observers, such a model creates unsolvable tensions between SDGs, notably between the safeguarding of natural resources and the aspirations for improved well-being. The structural transformation that would bring about the desired change requires a joint effort by the international community, but equally so by natural and public or private legal persons, to urgently speed up the process. The European Union has been a leader in drafting and implementing the SDGs; however, the European Parliament considers the EU could go further in devising a common SDG strategy. This briefing updates an EPRS 'At a glance' note published in November 2017, PE 608.819.

Russia in Africa: A new arena for geopolitical competition

08-11-2019

During the Cold War, post-colonial Africa was an important front in the geopolitical contest for international influence. However, in the 1990s, post-Soviet turmoil ended many of Russia's global ambitions, including in Africa. By contrast, recent years have seen a renewed Russian interest in the continent, as part of President Vladimir Putin's drive to reassert his country as a major global player. As in other parts of the world, Russia has various means of promoting its influence. Moscow has long ...

During the Cold War, post-colonial Africa was an important front in the geopolitical contest for international influence. However, in the 1990s, post-Soviet turmoil ended many of Russia's global ambitions, including in Africa. By contrast, recent years have seen a renewed Russian interest in the continent, as part of President Vladimir Putin's drive to reassert his country as a major global player. As in other parts of the world, Russia has various means of promoting its influence. Moscow has long been the continent's leading supplier of weapons, and it has military cooperation deals with nearly two dozen African countries. Among other things, these provide for the presence of military trainers and advisors, and a small but growing number of Russian 'boots on the ground', many of them coming from shadowy private military companies closely linked to Putin's entourage. Russia's military presence in countries such as the Central African Republic often goes hand-in-hand with commercial interests. Overall, Russian trade and investment in the continent is quite small, except in the strategic energy and mining sectors: oil, gas, diamonds, gold, aluminium and nickel are among the African minerals extracted by Russian companies. Russia's African toolkit also includes covert political influence operations – again, involving shady Kremlin-linked organisations, soft power (building on Soviet-era links and a growing media presence), and increasingly close diplomatic ties. On the other hand, Russian development and humanitarian aid to the continent is minimal. While Russia's influence in Africa is growing, it remains a comparatively marginal player in most of the continent, except in a few key countries and economic sectors. Its overall objective appears to be geopolitical competition with other more established players, rather than disinterested help for African partners. Its role is therefore viewed with concern by the EU institutions and Member States.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Jutta Urpilainen - International Partnerships

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

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