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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.

Accords internationaux en marche: Le futur partenariat de l’UE avec les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (« post-Cotonou »)

19-02-2020

L’accord de partenariat entre l’Union européenne et les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (ACP) devait expirer en février 2020. La renégociation de cet « Accord de Cotonou » offre l’opportunité de revoir les relations entre les pays ACP et l’Union en tenant compte des objectifs de développement durable des Nations unies, de la redéfinition des stratégies européennes dans les régions concernées, des nouvelles ambitions des pays ACP et de l’évolution de l’équilibre des pouvoirs au niveau ...

L’accord de partenariat entre l’Union européenne et les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (ACP) devait expirer en février 2020. La renégociation de cet « Accord de Cotonou » offre l’opportunité de revoir les relations entre les pays ACP et l’Union en tenant compte des objectifs de développement durable des Nations unies, de la redéfinition des stratégies européennes dans les régions concernées, des nouvelles ambitions des pays ACP et de l’évolution de l’équilibre des pouvoirs au niveau mondial. Le principal défi pour l’Union européenne est de maintenir ses relations dans les trois sous-régions, tout en restant fidèle aux valeurs promues dans les traités européens. La question du financement est également sur la table. Le groupe ACP et l’Union européenne ont adopté leurs mandats de négociation respectivement en mai et juin 2018 et les négociations ont débuté en septembre 2018. Les parties prenantes se sont accordées sur le principe d’un socle commun complété par trois protocoles régionaux. Ces négociations à plusieurs niveaux ainsi que les discussions en cours sur le futur budget de l’UE ont empêché de finaliser l’accord à temps. Afin d’éviter un vide juridique dans les relations après l’échéance prévue de l’accord de Cotonou, les dispositions de ce dernier ont été prolongées jusqu’au 31 décembre 2020 au plus tard. Quatrième édition. Les Briefings 'Accords internationaux en marche' sont actualisés à des étapes clés de la procédure de ratification. Versions précédentes de ce briefing : PE 625.111, juillet 2018, PE 630.280, novembre 2018, PE 637.981, juillet 2019.

Understanding development effectiveness: Concepts, players and tools

09-01-2020

In the context of the limited availability of development aid, there is an increased demand for effective results. This means that both developing and richer countries must commit to spending and using aid more effectively. Public funding is not enough to cover all needs, but it can leverage initiatives from civil society and the private sector. The increase in stakeholders and intervention methods, both in terms of numbers and variety, combined with the necessity to address needs in the field more ...

In the context of the limited availability of development aid, there is an increased demand for effective results. This means that both developing and richer countries must commit to spending and using aid more effectively. Public funding is not enough to cover all needs, but it can leverage initiatives from civil society and the private sector. The increase in stakeholders and intervention methods, both in terms of numbers and variety, combined with the necessity to address needs in the field more precisely, has led to a global rethinking of how to assess development. High-level forums and stakeholder networks have helped to fine-tune the main principles of development effectiveness and to shift from a donor-recipient relationship to a more cooperative framework. Methods and tools have improved and led to better planning, implementation and appraisal of development projects. The EU has been closely involved in designing and implementing the effectiveness principles. The European Parliament often refers to them, insisting that they must not be sacrificed for the sake of short-term interests. This briefing is an update of a previous edition from April 2017.

Reporting on SDG implementation: UN mechanisms and the EU approach

20-12-2019

Adopted in 2015 by the United Nations (UN), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – 'the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all' – clearly links the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) it introduced to a series of targets to be reached by 2030. The 2030 Agenda includes a detailed mechanism to monitor progress with regard to these targets. At the core of this mechanism are a number of quantified indicators for each target that are regularly revised by the UN and ...

Adopted in 2015 by the United Nations (UN), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – 'the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all' – clearly links the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) it introduced to a series of targets to be reached by 2030. The 2030 Agenda includes a detailed mechanism to monitor progress with regard to these targets. At the core of this mechanism are a number of quantified indicators for each target that are regularly revised by the UN and other international agencies. These agencies and the EU provide support to national statistical services across the world in collecting data for the SDG indicators in order to gather reliable and comparable datasets. These data feed the voluntary national reports that countries prepare to exchange good practices and advice on tackling the challenges they encounter in implementing their SDG strategies. High-level forums take stock of both progress and weaknesses in implementation, so as to ensure that everybody is on track in pursuing the SDGs. The EU has long experience in collecting consistent data from its Member States. The European Union Statistical Office (Eurostat) has created a set of sustainable development indicators that provide a good overview of progress within the EU; yet, according to analysts, these indicators do not give a clear picture of the risks of not attaining some goals by 2030. EU development cooperation services have devised a framework of indicators to assess how EU support contributes to other countries' implementation of the SDGs. However, the European Parliament and other stakeholders regret that the spill-over effect of EU policies on third countries remains a blind spot in the evaluation of the EU's contribution to the SDGs. Although technical in nature, SDG indicators and data also have a political dimension, as they clearly measure countries' and other stakeholders' achievements against their own commitments.

Understanding the Sustainable Development Goals

13-12-2019

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be attained by 2030, as a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) and the Rio+20 Summit (2012). Unlike their predecessors, the SDGs commit both developed and developing countries, and embrace the economic, environmental and social aspects of development. The SDGs and the broader 2030 Agenda for sustainable development of which they form the core, are based on the findings that human activities have ...

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be attained by 2030, as a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) and the Rio+20 Summit (2012). Unlike their predecessors, the SDGs commit both developed and developing countries, and embrace the economic, environmental and social aspects of development. The SDGs and the broader 2030 Agenda for sustainable development of which they form the core, are based on the findings that human activities have triggered dramatic changes in the conditions on Earth (climate change and biodiversity loss), which in turn have contributed to the deterioration of human well being. To reverse the trend, there is an urgent need to simultaneously address the multiple causes and consequences of environmental depletion and social inequalities, by developing synergies and managing trade-offs between the SDGs. Challenges in pursuing the SDGs include the fact that countries do not necessarily have an equal start and, even more importantly, that regardless of their stage of development, they can no longer afford to apply the current development model, where production and consumption happen at the expense of natural resources. According to many observers, such a model creates unsolvable tensions between SDGs, notably between the safeguarding of natural resources and the aspirations for improved well-being. The structural transformation that would bring about the desired change requires a joint effort by the international community, but equally so by natural and public or private legal persons, to urgently speed up the process. The European Union has been a leader in drafting and implementing the SDGs; however, the European Parliament considers the EU could go further in devising a common SDG strategy. This briefing updates an EPRS 'At a glance' note published in November 2017, PE 608.819.

Russia in Africa: A new arena for geopolitical competition

08-11-2019

During the Cold War, post-colonial Africa was an important front in the geopolitical contest for international influence. However, in the 1990s, post-Soviet turmoil ended many of Russia's global ambitions, including in Africa. By contrast, recent years have seen a renewed Russian interest in the continent, as part of President Vladimir Putin's drive to reassert his country as a major global player. As in other parts of the world, Russia has various means of promoting its influence. Moscow has long ...

During the Cold War, post-colonial Africa was an important front in the geopolitical contest for international influence. However, in the 1990s, post-Soviet turmoil ended many of Russia's global ambitions, including in Africa. By contrast, recent years have seen a renewed Russian interest in the continent, as part of President Vladimir Putin's drive to reassert his country as a major global player. As in other parts of the world, Russia has various means of promoting its influence. Moscow has long been the continent's leading supplier of weapons, and it has military cooperation deals with nearly two dozen African countries. Among other things, these provide for the presence of military trainers and advisors, and a small but growing number of Russian 'boots on the ground', many of them coming from shadowy private military companies closely linked to Putin's entourage. Russia's military presence in countries such as the Central African Republic often goes hand-in-hand with commercial interests. Overall, Russian trade and investment in the continent is quite small, except in the strategic energy and mining sectors: oil, gas, diamonds, gold, aluminium and nickel are among the African minerals extracted by Russian companies. Russia's African toolkit also includes covert political influence operations – again, involving shady Kremlin-linked organisations, soft power (building on Soviet-era links and a growing media presence), and increasingly close diplomatic ties. On the other hand, Russian development and humanitarian aid to the continent is minimal. While Russia's influence in Africa is growing, it remains a comparatively marginal player in most of the continent, except in a few key countries and economic sectors. Its overall objective appears to be geopolitical competition with other more established players, rather than disinterested help for African partners. Its role is therefore viewed with concern by the EU institutions and Member States.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Jutta Urpilainen - International Partnerships

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

Future partnership between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (‘post-Cotonou’)

11-07-2019

The Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries expires in February 2020. The main challenge for the EU is to maintain its relations in the region while remaining faithful to the values set out in the European Treaties. The renegotiation of the Cotonou Agreement provides an opportunity to streamline relations between the ACP countries and the Union, taking into account the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the redefining of Europe’s strategies ...

The Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries expires in February 2020. The main challenge for the EU is to maintain its relations in the region while remaining faithful to the values set out in the European Treaties. The renegotiation of the Cotonou Agreement provides an opportunity to streamline relations between the ACP countries and the Union, taking into account the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the redefining of Europe’s strategies in the regions concerned, the new ambitions of the ACP countries and changes in the balance of power at a global level. The question of financing is also on the table. The EU sees promoting prosperity, stability and good governance in the ACP countries as a way of helping to address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement. The ACP Group adopted its negotiating mandate in May 2018. The European Union adopted its negotiating mandate in June 2018, proposing a common ‘Foundation’ supplemented by specific protocols with the three subregions. The negotiations began in September 2018.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Foreign policy

28-06-2019

European Union (EU) action beyond its borders often requires a combination of approaches. The EU Treaties differentiate between common foreign and security policy (CFSP), common security and defence policy (CSDP), external action, and the external dimension of internal policies, but in the field, issues are so intertwined that more often than not a single tool is not sufficient. For example, population displacement triggered by a conflict over natural resources has to be addressed by humanitarian ...

European Union (EU) action beyond its borders often requires a combination of approaches. The EU Treaties differentiate between common foreign and security policy (CFSP), common security and defence policy (CSDP), external action, and the external dimension of internal policies, but in the field, issues are so intertwined that more often than not a single tool is not sufficient. For example, population displacement triggered by a conflict over natural resources has to be addressed by humanitarian aid, itself secured by a CSDP mission, and its effects mitigated by adequate migration and development policies, while peace talks are conducted. Coordination between all stakeholders is challenging but vital, not only as a response but also for prevention. To address new challenges such as climate change, rising insecurity or new migration patterns, the EU has put forward concrete solutions to shape synergy between the actors, in order to use shared expertise more effectively, and to find new sources of funding. The new foreign policy framework (EU global strategy) is intended to map the tools and resources best designed to help society as a whole, in the EU and partner countries, to withstand natural and manmade shocks more effectively. This means making connections between actors and between traditionally separate policy areas. Budgetary constraints and the will to depart from a donor/recipient relationship have also resulted in innovative financing tools, using EU funds to leverage private investments. While, since its launch, the global strategy has proved to be a coherent vision, sturdy, comprehensive external action nevertheless requires coordination at all levels. In the years to come, global instability is expected to rise; the challenge for the EU will be to ensure security while upholding the core values of the Treaties – human rights, democracy and the fight against poverty – as its primary objectives on the global stage. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

LGBTI in Africa: Widespread discrimination against people with non-conforming sexual orientations and gender identities

16-05-2019

Three out of five African countries have laws criminalising homosexuality and the public expression of sexual or gender behaviour that does not conform with heterosexual norms. These same laws even sometimes punish LGBTI (lesbian, gay, trans, intersex) rights advocacy. Some African countries have partly decriminalised LGBTI persons or given them better protection. However, across the continent – with the notable exception of South Africa – such persons are still far from fully enjoying the same rights ...

Three out of five African countries have laws criminalising homosexuality and the public expression of sexual or gender behaviour that does not conform with heterosexual norms. These same laws even sometimes punish LGBTI (lesbian, gay, trans, intersex) rights advocacy. Some African countries have partly decriminalised LGBTI persons or given them better protection. However, across the continent – with the notable exception of South Africa – such persons are still far from fully enjoying the same rights as other citizens. Furthermore, recent years have seen the emergence of a worrying trend: the adoption of tougher legislation coupled with clampdowns on homosexuals. An argument frequently used in support of discriminatory legislative and other measures targeting LGBTI persons is that non-conforming sexual orientations and gender identities were brought to Africa by Western colonisers and are contrary to the 'African values'. This claim has long been proven false by academic research, but tolerance for LGBTI is still very low in most African countries, and LGBTI people are all too often exposed to discrimination and violence. Against this backdrop, the EU institutions and Member States have a difficult task: on the one hand, they are committed under the Treaties to promote the EU core values in their external relations, and to monitor and tackle abuses in their partner countries. On the other hand, their actions and declarations in this area risk reinforcing the perception that the EU is trying to impose non-African values on Africa, all the more so since the notion of sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for discrimination is contested by African countries in the multilateral arena.

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