EU commits US$29 million to victims of conflict in Nigeria

The EU committed a new emergency assistance package of €27 million (US$29 million) to support millions of people affected by the conflict in Nigeria’s Lake Chad region. European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, announced the commitment while visiting the region which is under the influence of armed groups.

Roughly 8 million people in Nigeria are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. The EU’s funding will help to provide food, access to clean water and sanitation facilities, shelter, basic health services, and education for children.
Press release - European Commission

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UK parliament ratifies withdrawal bill from Europe; EU approval expected

The UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement (WA), which sets out the terms under which the UK will leave the EU, has been passed into law in the UK, after being ratified by the UK Parliament and given royal assent on January 23, 2020. The European Parliament and Council now need to approve the WA to enable the UK to officially exit the EU on January 31, 2020.

The Parliament will vote on the WA on January 29, 2020. Given that the committee responsible for the resolution recommended that members of the European Parliament consent to the agreement, a majority in favor of approving the WA is expected.

The Council will then need to conclude the process with a qualified majority vote, to be held on January 30, 2020. The WA has already been approved by member states’ leaders in the European Council and, as such, the Council vote is regarded essentially as a formality.

Press release - European Parliament

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European Parliament’s development committee holds public hearing on effectiveness of development assistance

The European Parliament’s committee on development (DEVE) held a public hearing called ‘Effectiveness, Efficiency and Results of EU Aid for Sustainable Development’ on January 22, 2020. The event was moderated by Hildegard Bentele, a German Member of the European Parliament, and included the following speakers: 

  • Thomas Gass, Co-Chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) and Assistant Director-General Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation (SDC); 
  • Susanna Moorehead, Chair of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC);
  • Vitalice Meja, consultative Co-Chair of GPEDC and Executive Director of the civil society network 'Reality of Aid Africa'; and
  • Jean Letitia Saldanha, Director of the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad).

The public hearing followed a discussion between DEVE committee members and the Croatian Presidency’s priorities with regards to humanitarian assistance.

Press release - European Parliament


European Commission signs four new financial guarantee agreements worth US$240 million to encourage investments in Africa and EU Neighborhood

The European Commission signed four new financial guarantee agreements worth €216 million (US$240 million) to encourage investments in renewables, urban infrastructure, and startups in Africa and the EU Neighborhood. The aim of the guarantees, signed under the EU External Investment Plan (EIP), is to unlock €2 billion (US$2.2 billion) in public and private sector investment. The guarantees include: 

  • Resilient City Development (RECIDE): €100 million (US$111 million) guarantee agreement signed with AECID, the Spanish development cooperation agency;
  • Boosting Investment in Renewable Energy: €50 million (US$56 million) guarantee agreement signed with the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development;
  • Supporting Investment in Sustainable Energy: €46 million (US$51 million) guarantee agreement signed with the KfW Group; and
  • Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Access to Finance: €20 million (US$22 million) guarantee agreement signed with the EIB.

The EIP consists of three pillars: a fund for financial guarantees to mitigate risk in countries with difficult investment environments; funding for technical assistance to provide expert help to authorities, investors, and companies developing new projects; and investment climate support through policy dialogue.
Press release - European Commission


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

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EU releases 2019 annual report on the EU’s external financing in 2018

The European Commission published its Annual Report 2019 on the implementation of the EU’s external actions in 2018. The report outlines how EU external action has contributed to promoting sustainable development and security worldwide in 2018 and also highlights progress on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 'SDGs'. According to the report, the EU invested €74.4 billion (US$82.7 billion) in official development assistance 'ODA'  in 2018, with €13.2 billion (US$14.7 billion) provided through the European Commission.
Annual Report 2019 on the EU’s external financing in 2018 - European Commission


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

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UK experts argue for continued collobration with EU on development assistance

As part of an inquiry led by the UK House of Lord’s Sub-Committee on EU External Affairs into how the UK should work with the EU post-Brexit, experts argued passionately for continued collaboration between the UK and the EU on international development. They cited the considerable mutual benefits of sharing respective expertise, spheres of influence, and resources

Mikaela Gavas, Co-Director of the Center for Global Development, and Simon Maxwell, former Director of the Overseas Development Institute, said that the UK and the EU need to start by agreeing on shared priorities for their future collaboration and then decide on the appropriate implementing vehicle.

They proposed two possible arrangements for future collaboration: the parties could negotiate an ambitious and wide-ranging partnership, including a shared vision, objectives, and common resources, but maintain separate implementing organizations to avoid governance and accountability issues; alternatively, they suggested that the UK and the EU could pool resources towards a common aim by establishing a joint EU-UK development assistance trust fund with its own governance arrangements. 

Blog post - Centre for Global Development

UK House of Lords - Sub-Committee on EU External Affairs Evidence Session

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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


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)

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