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Dutch finance minister questions Franco-German budget proposal

Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra has questioned France and German's latest eurozone budget proposal ahead of the Eurogroup gathering in Brussels on November 19, 2018. In a Twitter post, Hoekstra said,"the need for such a budget is less than convincing. It is unclear how this will help and why this would be in the interest of Dutch citizens.”

France and Germany published a two-page proposal for the budget on November 16, 2018, which said that a eurozone budget should be within the EU budget framework and linked to “external assigned revenues,” like an EU financial transaction tax. Countries in the single currency union would be able to tap into the pot but only if they comply with strict rules on economic policy coordination.

Twitter post - Minister of Finance of the Netherlands

EU France Germany Netherlands

EU seeks input on EU-Africa Trust Fund

The European Commission seeks public input on a mid-term evaluation of the EU-Africa fund and its measures taken on the ground. The fund, launched in response to the 2015 migration and refugee crisis, aims to address the root causes of instability, illegal migration, and forced displacement in Africa. The deadline for providing input is December 7, 2018.

Feeback form – European Commission

EU

EU think tank releases collection of resources on EU-North Africa relations

The European Centre for Development Policy Management has gathered together its resources on the changing dynamics and interests of governmental, private, and civil-society actors in North Africa and Europe to understand what drives and hinders relations between the two neighbors in light of geopolitical interests and the absence of a coherent set of policies towards North Africa.

Dossier – ECDPM

EU

EU pledges €26 million to GFF

The European Union pledged about €26 million (US$28.8 million) to the Global Financing Facility for Reproductive, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health and Nutrition (GFF) in Oslo November 6, 2018. European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said that the pledge reflects the EU's intention to join the GFF as an active member. The GFF aims to improve the health and quality of life of women, children, and adolescents, while ending preventable deaths. This pledge comes on top of €2.6 billion (US$2.9 billion) that the EU is already investing in global health through its development assistance for the period 2014-2020. 

Press release – European Commission

EU Global health

UK refuses to endorse EU development assistance spending plans in protest

For the first time ever, the UK has declined to endorse the spending plans of the European Development Fund (EDF), a key instrument for EU development assistance, in protest against alleged discrimination by the European Commission towards funding UK-based NGOs. While the UK was unable to halt the spending plans, as it was the only EU member to abstain, the protest crystallized UK anger over what it considers unfair procurement practices by the Commission as a result of the UK exiting the EU. These practices are seen to be causing UK-based NGOs to miss out on vital contracts.

The UK is the third-largest donor to the EDF, accounting for about 15 percent of its total funding.

News article – The Guardian

EU United Kingdom

European Parliament committee backs report calling for bigger multi-year budget

The European Parliament Committee on Budgets approved an interim report on the next multiannual financial framework (MFF), which sets EU institution budget ceilings for 2021-2027. The report outlines Parliament's priorities for the next MFF, including a larger overall budget than proposed by the European Commission, and for each of the sector-specific programs. The report calls for a MFF that represents 1.3 percent of the EU’s gross national income and for new 'own resources'. While the European Parliament cannot formulate long-term budget policy on its own, the Council of the EU requires parliamentary approval for the MFF to take effect. A plenary vote on the report is expected on November 14, 2018.

News report – European Parliament Committee on Budgets

EU

EU lowers its ambitions on African migration control

The European Union is negotiating a series of ‘cash-for-migrant control’ deals with North African countries, following the breakdown of more aggressive efforts in the face of united African opposition. Talks between EU officials and the Egyptian government seek to strike a ‘cash-for-migrants’ agreement by February 2019 in Cairo, with similar deals in the works with Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya. The expiring Cotonou Agreement, the framework for relations between the EU and African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries, already contains requirements for African governments to take back migrants who fail to obtain work permits or asylum, but compliance is low. Unlike the EU, in which Hungary, Poland, and Italy are demanding tougher rules on migration control than other member states will support, African leaders are united on migration.

News article – Euractiv

EU

Continent-to-continent EU-Africa trade deal under discussion

European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström met with her counterparts from African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states for the first discussion since the September 2018 announcement of the Commission's proposed 'Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment'. The Commission seeks to replace numerous EU-African trade agreements with a continent-to-continent free trade agreement, an economic partnership between equals. Twenty-nine ACP countries are currently implementing Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the EU and another 21 countries have concluded negotiations.

Press release – European Commission

EU

Italian foreign minister highlights desire to invest in Africa

On October 25, 2018, the Italian Ministery of Foreign Affairs hosted the Italy-Africa conference, which counted 46 African countries and 13 international organizations as participants. The event aims to promote economic cooperation and investment. At the conference, Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said that Italy is a champion within the EU for increasing development funding to Africa, claiming that Italy is "fighting the hardest" to ensure that resources are in place to support African youth and to promote European investment in African companies.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affair (in Italian)

EU Italy

EU institution negotiations continue on 2019 budget

The Council of the European Union has rejected the European Parliament’s proposal to increase EU budget commitments for 2019 €1.1 billion above ceilings set by the EU's multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020. In general, the Council and the Parliament share the same priorities for the 2019 EU budget, including growth, employment and innovation, fighting climate change, tackling security and migration, and a focus on young people.  Starting October 30, 2018 the Council and Parliament will have three weeks to agree on next year’s budget. If no deal is reached by the end of that period, the European Commission has to present a new draft budget for 2019.

Press release – Council of the EU

EU