Council of the EU adopts conclusions on supporting sustainable development across the world

The Council of the EU adopted conclusions on July 8, 2019, in response to the European Commission’s 2019 Joint Synthesis Report of the European Union and its member states on 'Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals across the world'. The Council affirmed its support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ahead of the United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum in September 2019 to review progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
The Council underlined the EU’s history of strong support for social and human development in its development cooperation efforts by giving priority to social protection, decent work, universal health coverage, and access to education. However, it took note of several areas with insufficient progress, including using integrated approaches to achieve the SDGs, tailoring support to the needs of partner countries, encouraging partner countries to integrate the SDGs into their national strategies, working better together within the EU and its member states through joint programming, and developing more robust results-reporting systems. 
Council Conclusions - Council of the EU

EU Education Global health

European Parliament announces membership of development and research committees

The newly elected European Parliament met for its first plenary session on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, where members of the European Parliament committee memberships were decided. Newly formed committees include Development (DEVE), Foreign Affairs (AFET), and Industry, Research, and Energy (ITRE).

The full list of parliamentary members on each committee was published on the European Parliament’s website. Committee chairs and vice-chairs will be voted on in each committee’s meeting the following week.

Conference of Presidents - European Parliament

EU Global health R&D

EU national leaders reach deal on next leadership

After a marathon three-day summit, heads of state finally reached a consensus on who will fill the top EU jobs. Nominations include: 

  • European Commission President: conservative German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen 
  • European Council President: liberal Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel
  • High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs / Vice-President of the Commission: socialist Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell
  • European Central Bank President: conservative French IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde

The European Parliament also elected socialist Italian MEP David-Maria Sassoli as its new president for a half-term of two and a half years, after which time he will pass the baton to a conservative colleague for the second half of the term. 

The nominees for Presidents of the European Central Bank and Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission roles require parliamentary approval, and a vote is expected the week of July 15, 2019. If any of the candidates are not approved, national leaders will have a month to propose a new nominee.

If elected, von der Leyen and Lagarde would be the first women to hold their respective roles.  

News article - Politico 


EU leaders again fail to reach agreement on filling top EU posts

EU heads of state met in a special meeting of the European Council June 30, 2019 to hash out a deal on a package of nominees for new EU leadership, including the next presidents of the European Commission, Council of the EU, and European Parliament, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs. The summit had been called after heads of state also failed to reach a consensus during the June 20 to 21 European Council Summit. The meeting will be reconvened on July 2. 

Candidates for commission president will need the support of a qualified majority in the European Council and a majority in the Parliament. The Council president and the high representative roles are decided by the Council alone. The EU treaties require that the top EU roles have a certain amount of balance regarding party, geography, and member state population size, and leaders are seeking to close the gender disparity in the top posts, as well. The European Council is under pressure to reach a decision before the new European Parliament sits for its first plenary this week; if the Parliament presidency is settled first rather than as a package deal, it will constrain the options as to who can fill the other posts. 

Website - European Commission


EU Member States express “strong support” for the proposed EU-Africa global health research partnership

The European Commission gathered feedback from EU member states on proposed research partnerships for the EU’s 2021-2027 research framework program, which showed “strong support” for a proposed EU-Africa Partnership on global health. The feedback was presented at the third meeting of the Shadow Strategic Configuration of the Horizon Europe Programme Committee held on June 27-28, 2019.

Member states expressed a willingness to co-fund the EU-Africa partnership, but they voiced doubts about changing the legal basis from its predecessor partnership, EDCTP. Some member states also indicated a desire for an expanded research scope on infectious and neglected diseases to include antimicrobial resistance, health behavior, and diarrhea. 

Presentation - European Commission

EU Global health R&D

Finnish council presidency’s program includes maintaining EU’s ‘leading role in development’

The Finnish government published its program on June 26, 2019, for its six-month mandate in the rotating role of the presidency of the Council of the EU.

The 'Sustainable Europe, Sustainable Future' program includes priorities for “strong, united, and effective EU external action” that includes strengthening the rules-based multilateral system, maintaining the EU’s leading role in development policy and humanitarian aid for implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, mainstreaming efforts to achieve gender equality, and pursuing a more equal and mutually beneficial EU-Africa partnership. 

Website - Finland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union


European Commission requests public input on priorities for 2021-2027 research program

The European Commission launched a public consultation on Horizon Europe, the 2021-2027 research program, on June 26, 2019. There is a September 8 deadline to submit feedback on the EU's research priorities during the next seven-year budget cycle. The consultation asks to what extent the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals should be incorporated in decisions on how to weigh various research priorities for the €100 billion (USD $112.7 billion) program. 

Feedback submission page - European Commission


African, European leaders commit to use agriculture to achieve sustainable development at third AU-EU agriculture ministerial conference

Leaders met in Rome on June 21, 2019, for the third African Union-European Union agriculture ministerial conference on the theme of ‘Promoting sustainable regional agri-food value chains’. Ministers discussed the importance of the agricultural sector in promoting nutrition and income security, and for encouraging rural development.

Attending ministers committed to intensifying the cooperation on sustainable agriculture, rural development, and sustainable food systems through the initiatives provided for in the Action Agenda alongside the conference declaration, and will seek to coordinate additional state-level actions.

Event website - European Commission

EU Agriculture Nutrition

EU adopts 2019-2024 Strategic Agenda calling for EU leadership on multilateralism, sustainable development

EU heads of state adopted the 2019-2024 Strategic Agenda, a new five-year EU strategy, at the June 20, 2019 European Council meeting in Brussels.

The Agenda includes a section on promoting Europe’s interests and values in the world, and calls for continued European leadership to promote multilateralism and the global rules-based international order. The EU will lead on addressing global challenges and will develop a comprehensive partnership with Africa. 

Press release - European Council


EU heads of state discuss long-term budget, Strategic Agenda at June 2019 European Council meeting

Heads of state from EU member states gathered for the June 20-21, 2019 European Council meeting to discuss the EU’s long-term budget, upon which they aim to reach an agreement by the end of 2019, and to adopt the 2019-2024 Strategic Agenda. Leaders discussed nominations for the next European Commission president and college of commissioners, but were unable to form a majority on a package of nominations.

In the Council conclusions, EU leaders recognized the crucial importance of the EU’s strategic partnership with Africa. They concluded that the EU should remain a driving force behind multilateralism and should use its influence to lead the response to global challenges, including promoting sustainable development and implementing the 2030 Agenda. 

Council conclusions - European Council