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European Commission adopts 2020 humanitarian assistance budget of US$1 billion to support 80+ countries

The European Commission has adopted its initial humanitarian budget of €900 million (US$1 billion) for 2020, to help people in over 80 countries across the Africa continent, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. This amount is a significant decrease from 2019 when the Commission adopted a record humanitarian assistance budget of €1.6 billion (US$1.8 billion). Within the 2020 budget, €400 million (US$444 million) will fund programs in Africa, including to support those affected by the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel. €345 million (US$383 million) will be directed to the Middle East to address the crises in Yemen and Syria. €111 million (US$123 million) will go to Asia and Latin America to assist those impacted by the crisis in Venezuela and to support conflicted affected regions in Afghanistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
 
Funding for humanitarian assistance is a strong priority of the EU development assistance budget, accounting for 11% of the EU’s bilateral spending. 
 
Press release - European Commission

EU Nutrition

EU to provide US$25 million in humanitarian assistance to southern Africa during region’s worst drought in decades

The EU will contribute a humanitarian assistance package of €23 million (US$25 million) to countries in southern Africa, suffering from the region’s worst drought in decades. Zimbabwe will receive €17 million (US$19 million) to provide emergency assistance for food, clean water, basic health care, and protection to vulnerable people. Eswatini, Madagascar, Lesotho, and Zambia will receive the remaining €6 million (US$7 million) for food assistance and nutrition support. 

In the last year, the EU allocated €68 million (US$75 million) since January 2019 for humanitarian assistance in the Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region, which is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters such as droughts and floods. 
 
Press release - European Commission

EU Global health Nutrition

EU Council President calls for EU-Sahel summit on security and development

European Council President Charles Michel plans to propose an EU-Sahel summit to coordinate security and development policies. The summit will bring together 27 EU government officials and the leaders of the G5 Sahel, an institutional framework between Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, and will be held in conjunction with the European Council’s next scheduled summit in late March.

In part due to a deteriorating security situation, compounded by a threat from the US to reduce its military presence across Africa, the EU’s relationship with the Sahel region has become increasingly important. The new EU Commission leadership has said that strengthening the EU’s ties to Africa will be a priority, and the documents released in advance of the summit suggest that the Commission is specifically interested in streamlining cooperation between the two continenents' major security apparati.

The EU and its member states are the G5 Sahel countries' main development partners, having mobilized more than €8 billion (US$8.9 billion) between 2014 and 2020 in development assistance.
 
News article - Politico
 
Council conclusions - Council of the EU

EU

German EU Council Presidency to focus on initiatives for peace and security in Sahel Africa

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that Africa will be a focus area of the German EU Council Presidency this summer. Initiatives for peace and security in the Sahel region will improve residents' overall well-being, she said, and reduce emigration in the long term.

Germany did not join the Anti-Terror Summit in Pau, France, on January 13, 2020, however, where France's President Macron welcomed five presidents from the Sahel region to discuss security and terror.

News article – Tagesschau (in German)

EU Germany

New EU research commissioner encourages member states to support increased funding for research

In an interview with Science|Business, the new European commissioner for research, Mariya Gabriel, said she hopes EU member states will support the proposed increase in research funding of €120 billion (US$133.3 billion) in the next long-term EU budget from 2021-2027. Gabriel called the funding "the best gift Europe could make for itself” and recognized the need to “remain mobilized until the last minute” to advocate for research funding in the long-term budget, the multiannual financial framework. 
 
Gabriel said she does not plan to reopen negotiations on the legislation for the proposed research framework program for 2021-2027, Horizon Europe. Member states and the European Parliament have already reached a provisional agreement on the program’s legislation, excluding final budget figures which will be decided as a part of the overall long-term budget agreement. 

News article - Science|Business

European Commission announces US$321 million in new funding for development in Morocco

The European Commission adopted new bilateral cooperation programs worth €289 million (US$321 million) to support Morocco on reforms and inclusive development. The new bilateral cooperation financing was accompanied by an additional €102 million (US$113 million) in budget support for border management through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.

The total of €389 million (US$432 million) in funding is intended to help contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth in Morocco while also fighting smuggling networks and protecting migrant victims. The development funding is aimed at improving access for vulnerable people to education and vocational training; strengthening the health sector; improving public administration performance; strengthening protections for human rights; and providing institutional support for the Moroccan Parliament.
 
Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, said in a statement announcing the funding that shared challenges give rise to the need for deeper EU cooperation with Africa. 
 
Press release - European Commission

EU Education

UK Conservative party wins large majority, paving the way for early 2020 Brexit

The UK Conservative party has won the general election by a significant majority, winning 365 seats in parliament, the party’s biggest majority since the 1980s, with a gain of an additional 47 seats. The leading opposition party, the Labour Party, suffered significant losses and had their worst election results since 1935, holding on to just 203 seats and losing 53.

As a result of the conservative majority, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, will likely pass his EU deal through parliament in the coming weeks, enabling the UK to leave the EU on January 31, 2020. Johnson has committed to spending the rest of the year working with the EU to establish a future trading relationship and hopes to conclude negotiations by the end of 2020. A major cabinet reshuffle is due in the first quarter of this year. So far, Alok Sharma has retained his position as the secretary for state for international development.

News article - BBC

EU United Kingdom

Researchers call on EU leaders to protect health research budget for 2021-2027

Ahead of the December European Council summit, a European consortium of leading research institutions called on EU leaders to protect funding for health research in the next long-term budget. 'LifeTime', a new consortium of more than 90 academic and industry institutions that work on treating human cells during diseases, released a call to action for EU heads of state to promote efforts for innovative healthcare solutions. The group also called for a strong budget for Horizon Europe - the proposed next research framework program of the EU, to put the EU at the forefront of international health research. 
 
Call for Action website - LifeTime

EU Global health R&D

Long-term budget talks stall at EU leaders summit

EU heads of state failed to make progress during the December 12-13 European Council summit on the next long-term EU budget negotiations. Rather than holding detailed discussions on the EU budget, leaders adopted prepared conclusions calling for the European Council President, Charles Michel, to take negotiations forward without specifying a timeline. Michel has, for now, discarded his idea to hold a special budget summit in February 2020 in favour of holding bilateral discussions with EU governments. Instead of delving into negotiations on the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF), the European Council summit was dominated by discussions on a proposed 2050 climate neutrality target and the European Green Deal proposal. 
 
In October 2019, the Finnish Council Presidency proposed a compromise MFF size of 1.055% of the 27 EU member states’ gross national income (GNI). This proposal would strike a middle ground between the European Commission’s proposal, which would represent 1.11% of the 27 EU member states’ and the position of the more frugal countries, such as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, which advocated for an overall budget size of 1% of GNI. Shrinking the budget largely meant cuts across the board, including for R&D and development spending. The European Parliament’s negotiating team denounced the Finnish proposal for failing to meet commitments to investment, youth, climate and security, suggesting that such a proposal would “condemn the European Union to failure.”
 
The lack of progress towards meeting any of the deadlines set out so far for wrapping up an MFF deal further increases the likelihood that an agreement will not be reached until the German Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2020.  
 
Council conclusions - European Council

Press release - European Parliament 

EU

Major European development banks to provide proposals to enhance coordination on European development finance

Representatives of EU Member States have invited the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to submit concrete proposals on measures to enhance coordination on development finance by the end of January 2020. 
 
Member State representatives in the Council of the EU had previously commissioned a report by a ‘high-level wise persons group’ on the future of the European financial architecture for development. The report recommended several measures for reforming the existing architecture to increase coordination and to improve development impact. The Council, in turn, adopted recommendations aimed at making the current institutional set up more flexible, coherent, and strategic.

The Council has now called for proposals from EIB and EBRD on implementing the report’s recommendations. It has also invited the European Commission and the European External Action Service to report on the progress made on various measures to strengthen the development finance architecture at the end of January 2020. 
 
 
Press release - Council of the EU
 
Council conclusions on strengthening the European financial architecture for development - Council of the EU
 
Report on the future of the European financial architecture for development - EU high-level Group of wise persons

EU