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Amending the European Fund for Sustainable Development

19-10-2020

The EU is in the process of adapting its budgetary instruments to respond to the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, in particular in raising the established ceilings for some financial instruments. The proposed adjustments include, among other things, measures aimed at helping the most fragile third countries recover from the consequences of the pandemic. In particular, on 28 May 2020, the European Commission put forward a proposal concerning the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD ...

The EU is in the process of adapting its budgetary instruments to respond to the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, in particular in raising the established ceilings for some financial instruments. The proposed adjustments include, among other things, measures aimed at helping the most fragile third countries recover from the consequences of the pandemic. In particular, on 28 May 2020, the European Commission put forward a proposal concerning the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) in order to expand its coverage and raise the funds dedicated to leverage private investment for sustainable development and the guarantees to de-risk such investment. On 21 July 2020, the European Council rejected the draft amending budget that would have provided increased EFSD funding for the current year.

World Food Programme: Food for peace

15-10-2020

On 9 October 2020, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) 'for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict'. Adding to a worrying rise in food insecurity, the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have pushed millions more people to the brink of famine. The WFP's ...

On 9 October 2020, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) 'for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict'. Adding to a worrying rise in food insecurity, the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have pushed millions more people to the brink of famine. The WFP's expertise on emergencies, often in conflict areas, has provided relief to the most fragile populations. The EU supports the WFP through funding, knowledge-sharing, and protecting its vessels from piracy in certain waters.

International Agreements in Progress - After Cotonou: Towards a new agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific states

12-10-2020

The Cotonou partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states is due to expire at the end of 2020. The then ACP Group of States – which later became the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) – and the EU adopted their negotiating mandates in May and June 2018 respectively, thus starting negotiations for a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. The main challenge for the EU is to maintain its cooperation with the three OACPS sub-regions ...

The Cotonou partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states is due to expire at the end of 2020. The then ACP Group of States – which later became the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) – and the EU adopted their negotiating mandates in May and June 2018 respectively, thus starting negotiations for a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. The main challenge for the EU is to maintain its cooperation with the three OACPS sub-regions and to continue to promote the values enshrined in the EU Treaties. At the same time, the new partnership should take into account the United Nations' sustainable development goals, the redefinition of European strategies in the concerned regions, the new ambitions of the ACP states and the changing balance of power at the global level. Both the EU and the OACPS have agreed on the principle of a common foundation complemented by three regional protocols. These multi-level negotiations and the ongoing discussions on the next EU multiannual budget prevented the new agreement from being finalised by February 2020, the initial expiry date set in the Cotonou Agreement. Thus, in order to avoid a legal vacuum in relations, the provisions of the latter have been extended until the end of 2020. Negotiations are now in their final stages, however some complex issues remain to be solved, among which the institutional setting of the partnership, including the future of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. Fifth edition. The ‘International Agreements in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification. To view earlier editions of this briefing (in French), please see the EPRS blog, https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/09/le-futur-partenariat-de-lunion-europeenne-avec-les-pays-dafrique-des-caraibes-et-du-pacifique-international-agreements-in-progress/.

The G5 Sahel and the European Union: The challenges of security cooperation with a regional grouping

15-09-2020

The August 2020 coup in Mali recalls the coup the country witnessed in 2012 and highlights the growing instability and insecurity the Sahel region has been facing for a decade now. The combined effect of population growth, poverty, climate change, unsustainable land tenure and marginalisation of peripheral populations has been fuelling community-based tensions and anger towards governments in the region. Weak state power and porous borders have enabled the proliferation of jihadist and other armed ...

The August 2020 coup in Mali recalls the coup the country witnessed in 2012 and highlights the growing instability and insecurity the Sahel region has been facing for a decade now. The combined effect of population growth, poverty, climate change, unsustainable land tenure and marginalisation of peripheral populations has been fuelling community-based tensions and anger towards governments in the region. Weak state power and porous borders have enabled the proliferation of jihadist and other armed groups and the intensification of violence. In 2014, as a collective answer to the growing security threat, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger created the G5 Sahel, an intergovernmental cooperation framework seeking to coordinate the security and development policies of its member states. In 2017, the G5 Sahel Joint Force was launched with the aim of fighting terrorism and organised crime in the region. In addition to its own security and development strategy in the region, the EU has developed close links with the G5 Sahel in support of its work towards sustainable peace and development, including regular political dialogues and three CSDP missions to train and advise the G5 Sahel national armies and Joint Force. The recent coup in Mali has led to the suspension of some forms of cooperation between the EU and the G5 Sahel. However, while efforts to find common ground for action and to build a lasting partnership with unstable countries remains a challenge, the EU is not ready to leave this strategic field to other players.

Understanding the EU Strategy for the Sahel

07-09-2020

The August 2020 coup in Mali has once again demonstrated the instability of the Sahel. The region is affected by climate change and rapid population growth. Rivalries over access to livelihoods exacerbate grievances against states. Struggling to provide basic services throughout their territory and security at their borders, governments are competing with armed groups that have emerged from the failed regimes of Central Africa, North Africa and the Middle East. The instability in this region has ...

The August 2020 coup in Mali has once again demonstrated the instability of the Sahel. The region is affected by climate change and rapid population growth. Rivalries over access to livelihoods exacerbate grievances against states. Struggling to provide basic services throughout their territory and security at their borders, governments are competing with armed groups that have emerged from the failed regimes of Central Africa, North Africa and the Middle East. The instability in this region has direct consequences for the security of the European Union's neighbours and for the EU itself. In 2011, to respond to the multiple factors of this instability, the EU adopted the Sahel security and development strategy: the first comprehensive approach aimed at ensuring various external policy programmes and instruments converge towards common objectives. Despite the revamping of the strategy in 2015 based on the lessons learnt, its implementation, which involves the coordination of multiple stakeholders, has been difficult. While it has contributed to notable progress towards integration and regionalisation, security challenges have impeded tangible achievements in preventing radicalisation and fostering inclusive development. The Sahel action plan, adopted in 2015 to provide an overall framework for the implementation of the strategy, comes to an end in 2020; its revision (or replacement) will need to take the EU's and Africa's new geopolitical interests on board. As the EU endeavours to reconnect with Africa in a regional and full-fledged partnership, the successes and failures of the EU Strategy for the Sahel could inspire the whole EU development and security policy on the continent. This briefing is a translated and revised version of Le Sahel: un enjeu stratégique pour l'Union européenne, of November 2017.

Mali: The coup and its consequences

04-09-2020

On 18 August 2020, a group of mutinying soldiers from the Malian army arrested President Ibrahim Boubakar Keita and forced him to resign and dissolve the government and National Assembly. Although the putschists promised to organise elections and reinstate the constitutional order, no clear path for transition emerged from the discussions with the West African regional authority, ECOWAS. The coup risks further destabilising the Sahel and challenges the EU strategy in the region.

On 18 August 2020, a group of mutinying soldiers from the Malian army arrested President Ibrahim Boubakar Keita and forced him to resign and dissolve the government and National Assembly. Although the putschists promised to organise elections and reinstate the constitutional order, no clear path for transition emerged from the discussions with the West African regional authority, ECOWAS. The coup risks further destabilising the Sahel and challenges the EU strategy in the region.

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.

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Public Hearing "Women and digitalisation"
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