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Opening speech High-Level Conference on Africa – Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament : ‘A new partnership between the European Union and Africa’

(check against delivery)

It is a real pleasure to see this Chamber full to the rafters to discuss the major issue of our partnership with our African friends.

The African Union-European Union Summit will take place in exactly one week’s time in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

I will straightaway say that that Summit must be different from the others, and must yield tangible results and a clear and precise roadmap.

We are privileged to have the President of the Central African Republic and many other African leaders with us here today. 

This clearly shows that the European Parliament wishes to establish a direct high-level dialogue with the leaders of African countries.

I have always said that we must look at Africa through African eyes, and this calls for frank and direct peer-to-peer dialogue.

We have launched that dialogue by inviting the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the President of Côte d’Ivoire to address the plenary.

We will continue in the same vein.

The European Parliament has decided to organise an ‘Africa week’ of parliamentary activities. Today’s conference is part of that initiative, which seeks to restore Africa to the heart of the political agenda, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleages in the European Parliament for the firm commitment they have shown to Africa.

For many years, the Union failed to give Africa the attention it deserves. Often we looked the other way, heedless of the emergencies – humanitarian or linked to climate, security or stability – which Africans have to deal with every day. We failed to recognise that we have an overriding strategic interest in what happens in Africa.

Europe’s approach was a piecemeal one, with individual countries falling over one another in pursuit of their own interests and agendas. The result was a road paved with good intentions, but there were many missed opportunities and few successes along the way. We failed to exert any real political and economic influence on the future of Africa.

Globalisation and migration have shown that building walls or putting up barriers is not the solution. Africa’s problems are Europe’s problems too.

It is time to put our relations on a new footing, before it’s too late. Our links go beyond mere geographical proximity. We have common interests and face common challenges.

By 2050, the population of Africa will double, to more than 2.5 billion. This population explosion may be a problem, but it may also be an opportunity.

Desertification, famine, pandemics, terrorism, unemployment and bad governance are exacerbating instability and contributing to uncontrolled immigration.

Without determined action to tackle these phenomena, new generations will continue to set out for Europe in search of hope and a future. They may be attracted by images on television or on the internet depicting what seems to them to be a land of milk and honey. We urgently need to offer them real prospects in their home countries, so that they stay and help to revitalise them.

Guaranteeing security and managing migration

Our citizens want a stronger Union, capable of managing migration and guaranteeing security. They are calling on us to defend our values, by welcoming refugees and protecting the dignity of individuals at all times. But they also want us to be just as resolute in turning away those who have no right to enter Europe.

We are no longer prepared to stand idly by while migration continues unchecked, while thousands die in the desert or at sea, while human traffickers go about their business, or while men and women who in the 21st century cannot feed their children or get medicines for them when they are sick give up all hope.

As a first step, we need to strengthen border controls and manage asylum applications and procedures for rejecting applications and readmitting migrants more effectively.

Shutting down the central Mediterranean corridors, promoting stability and combating terrorism will require investments by the Union on a similar scale to those made to halt migration via the Balkan route. This money has to be spent in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Niger, Chad or Mali.

I should like to thank the ministers of the government of Mali, a country in the front line of the fight against terror in the Sahel. The ‘G5 Sahel’ Group is an excellent example of regional cooperation which the Union must help to strengthen.

This money must be used to improve the training given to our border guards and our security forces. It can be used to set up reception centres under the auspices of the UN, where humanitarian protection, food, medicines and childcare are provided; and where asylum applications are dealt with promptly.

Bringing huge resources to bear at our internal borders will achieve nothing. All suggestions that it will are nothing more than propaganda. Rather, what is needed is adequate funding for Frontex and the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which must be given more staff and resources.

The European satellite systems – Galileo and Copernicus – and new security technologies to be developed jointly must be used for this purpose as well.

We must also harmonise conditions governing the granting of asylum and readmission procedures, which must be quick and effective.

At the last part-session in Strasbourg, Parliament adopted by a large majority the mandate for a thoroughgoing overhaul of the Dublin Regulation, to make it fairer, more genuinely solidarity-based and more effective. Now it is up to the Council to act.

The challenges facing Africa

But all this is not enough. We need to address the problem at its roots. Unless we can offer them real prospects of well-being and stability, it will no longer be tens of thousands but millions of people who choose to leave their home countries behind. The UN estimates that, even in the short term, more than half a million people every year will seek a better future in Europe.

Supporting Africa is not only a duty. It is clearly also in our shared economic and political interest.

Many African countries are already showing that their continent offers genuine opportunities: in 2016, five African economies were among the top ten in the world in terms of growth, with rates of more than 7%.

Africa has critical raw materials essential for our industries: 64% of the world’s cobalt, without which batteries for electric cars cannot be made, comes from Congo; tantalum, which is used in solar panels, comes from Rwanda; platinum, which is used to limit harmful emissions from cars, comes from South Africa.

These raw materials are also of interest to our competitors, starting with China, which is seeking to establish a dominant position in order to boost its own industries.

There is also a problem of environmental sustainability. In the context of the Raw Materials Partnership, which I promoted when I was Industry Commissioner in 2012, cooperation developed between EU and African geological surveys which has led to innovation and greater awareness of the need to protect the environment.

There are many other good examples of our work with Africa. To start with, there is the integration of markets, under the Lomé Conventions and the current Cotonou Agreement. These agreements have granted free access to the European market for 99.5 % of African products.

Discussions on the post-Cotonou settlement are continuing. I should like to thank Parliament’s rapporteurs for their contribution.

Despite these efforts and the tens of billions that have been invested, there is still a long way to go if we are to guarantee decent living conditions and greater security for people in Africa.

Many parts of Africa are affected by conflicts, instability, terrorism, bad governance - just think about what is currently happening in Zimbabwe, in the Horn of Africa or in the Central African Republic.

According to World Bank figures, the GDP of all the African countries put together is barely higher than that of France.

Despite disastrous levels of child mortality - 38% of all the newborns who died in 2015 were African - the continent has the world’s fastest growing population.

We are far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN with a view to reducing poverty: one-third of Africans live below the poverty line; one-sixth of them need humanitarian aid to survive; in rural areas, 60% of people have less than one euro a day to live on.

Farming and raw materials, including energy, are the main sources of revenue, whilst the level of industrialisation is extremely low.

Last Monday was Africa Industrialisation Day, which provided an opportunity to emphasise once again that developing a manufacturing base is fundamental to growth and employment.

Only 15% of Africans have the internet at home. Barely one person in three has electricity.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest illiteracy rates: one child in every five does not go to school, and almost 60% of young people are not undergoing training of any kind.

Is it any surprise, therefore, that young Africans should believe that they have nothing to lose; that they should decide to risk their lives to come to Europe; or that they should be seduced by people who preach violence in God’s name.

Many problems could be solved by means of greater investment in education, infrastructure, industry and modern farming techniques. Africa, however, is the continent which attracts by far the lowest volume of foreign investment: barely more than EUR 80 billion a year, only 3% of African GDP. China is the country whose investments are increasing the most in proportional terms.

Africa’s destiny must be put back in the hands of Africans. But Europe must play its part as well.

We must work together with Africa, as equals, and make available the fruits of our leadership in the areas of technology, quality, industrial know-how and training.

Ten years have passed since the EU-Africa strategy was adopted. In that time many hopes have been dashed. Europe has lacked the courage to develop truly effective instruments.

Instead of consolidating our position as Africa’s main partner, we are losing ground. Not only China but other emerging investors as well, such as Turkey, India and Singapore, are gaining in influence.

A Marshall Plan for Africa

The fifth African Union-European Union Summit, which will be held on 29 and 30 November in Abidjan and bring together more than 80 heads of state, comes at a crucial time.

We must send out a clear signal that we are determined to relaunch and strengthen our partnership, and speak with a single, strong voice.

The focus of all our efforts must be young people: they hold the key to a more stable, prosperous and modern Africa.

The EUR 3.4 billion investment plan for Africa is an important step in the right direction. But it is nowhere near enough.

We must support the efforts Africans themselves are making to establish a sustainable manufacturing base and develop efficient farming, renewable energy sources and proper water, energy, mobility, logistical and digital infrastructure, by drawing up a real ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa. By doing so we will strengthen governance and the rule of law, step up the fight against corruption and foster the emancipation of women and education.

We must work to ensure that under the next EU multiannual budget at least EUR 40 billion is earmarked for the investment fund for Africa. The leverage effect and synergies generated with the funding provided by the European Investment Bank could make it possible to mobilise some EUR 500 billion in public and private investment.

On that basis, we can continue to conduct effective economic diplomacy which promotes the integration of markets, the transfer of technology and industrial know-how, sustainability and training.

The aim must be to establish an environment conducive to the development of a manufacturing base and entrepreneurship and the creation of SMIs and jobs for young people. For that we also need instruments such as Erasmus for young entrepreneurs, which should be extended to cover Africa.

At the same time, legal immigrants from Africa can meet the demand for workers in some sectors of the economy in the EU and acquire professional skills which they can then use to create businesses in Europe.

We also need academic and cultural diplomacy which, by expanding Erasmus+ and stepping up cooperation between universities on research and mobility projects, makes it possible for more Africans to study in Europe.


More resources are not in themselves the answer. Already today we are investing EUR 33 billion from the EU budget alone, not counting the bilateral aid provided by individual Member States.

If our taxpayers’ generosity has failed to produce the hoped-for results, we must ask ourselves whether the current development cooperation model is the right one.

Carrying on as we have always done would be a serious mistake. Our citizens are calling for a political Europe which is capable of making brave choices. Starting with the budget; more of the same is not acceptable, and the budget must reflect the priorities of the peoples of Europe,

The proposed sum of EUR 40 billion - 12 times more than the current budget for the Investment Plan - is needed to generate an impact commensurate with our objectives. This is a critical mass large enough to attract European private and public investment. 

It is not a Utopian idea. If the political will is there, resources can be found, partly by using the funds already earmarked for Africa more effectively, partly by providing guarantees under the EU budget, and partly by identifying new sources of funding.

It is for just that reason that I have proposed an increase in the next budget. Making new resources available must not serve to impose a burden on citizens or SMIs. Instead, we must use new own resources for this purpose, by collecting taxes from those who currently don’t pay them and reducing taxes on those who do pay them.

I am thinking of tax havens, the internet giants and speculative financial transactions of all kinds.

Today, the European Parliament is committing itself to playing a central role in a new Partnership with Africa. Our debate, involving young people, political leaders, experts and investors from Europe and Africa, must serve as preparation for the new start we will make in Abidjan.

This conference must be more than a formal event at which we read out speeches – rather, we must take the opportunity it offers to relaunch our partnership.

If our partnership really is a priority, then we must meet more regularly – every two years.

Follow-up meetings should be held at multiple levels on a regular basis, including between the representatives of civil society, business and commerce and the young.

Abidjan must mark a new beginning in our relations.

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Daily News 16 / 05 / 2017

President Juncker consults the European Parliament on Mariya Gabriel as Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society

President Jean-Claude-Juncker interviewed today Mariya Gabriel, the candidate proposed by the Bulgarian Government for Commissioner to replace former Member of the Commission Kristalina Georgieva. On this basis, President Juncker confirmed the competencies of Mariya Gabriel required under Article 17(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) to become candidate for Commissioner and announced his intention to allocate the Digital Economy and Society portfolio to her. A Mission Letter sent today by President Juncker to Mariya Gabriel details her main tasks and responsibilities as Commissioner in charge of the Digital Economy and Society. Following today's interview of Mariya Gabriel and the announcement by President Juncker of the portfolio allocation, the process will now follow Article 246(2) TFEU and point 6 of the Framework Agreement between the European Parliament and the European Commission. An exchange of views between Mariya Gabriel and the relevant Committee of the European Parliament is expected to take place in the coming weeks. Read the full press releaseavailable in all EU languages here. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)


Commission calls on Member States to meet obligations under the EU's emergency relocation and resettlement schemes and sets out new approach on interoperability of information systems on borders and security

Meeting in Strasbourg, today the College of Commissioners will adopt two reports on the EU's emergency relocation and resettlement schemes and on progress made towards an effective and genuine Security Union. The first report will take stock of actions taken by Member States over the last month to fulfil their commitments under the relocation and resettlement schemes. On the European Agenda on Security, today's report will provide an update on the state-of-play with regards to the important work being carried out to improve security in the EU, and at its borders through better data management and the interoperability of information systems. Full press material will be available online at the start of the press conference in Strasbourg with Commissioners Avramopoulos and King which will be livestreamed here.(For more information:  Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 299 63444)

Commission registers European Citizens' Initiative on reducing the wage and economic differences

The European Commission has today decided to make a partial registration of a European Citizens' Initiative which invites the Commission to propose "Legal acts that clearly demonstrate the EU's intention to eliminate wage inequalities between Member States and which - to achieve this objective - allow for a more efficient cohesion of these states". The formal registration of this Initiative on 22 May 2017 will start a one-year process of collection of signatures of support by its organisers. Should the Initiative receive one million statements of support within one year, from at least seven different Member States, the Commission will have to react within three months. The Commission's Decision makes clear for which kind of legal acts the signatures may and may not be collected in this case, dependent on the competences set out in the Treaties. More information is available in the press release available here. (For more information:Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

"Lower Saxony in Europe and Europe in Lower Saxony": speech by President Juncker at the Lower Saxony Landtag

As part of his discussions with regional parliaments and local authorities, President Juncker was in Hannover, Germany yesterday to mark the 70th anniversary of the Parliament of Lower Saxony. Speaking about the importance of national and regional parliaments, President Juncker declared: "Nations are not temporary inventions of history, their presence is permanent. And the same applies to regions. We can only construct Europe with and not against them". The President also stressed that "it is important that the European Commission (…) remains in intensive dialogue with national and regional parliaments" and invited the Lower Saxony Parliament to be involved in European politics even more and to participate in the debate about the future of Europe. In his speech, the President addressed a wide range of issues, from EU migration policy, to the Digital Single Market, Capital Markets Union, Energy Union, the Juncker Plan and our single currency, the euro. Speaking about the social dimension of Europe, he said: "We have to pay more attention to the concerns of Europeans in social matters. (…) We must again turn back to those, for whom Europe was invented. Dreaming cannot be forbidden". Finally, President Juncker alsospoke about the benefits Member States derive from the European Union, notably though the EU budget. "In Europe there are no net payers and net recipients. In Europe, all Member States are net recipients because without Europe they would be net payers," he said. The full speech in German is available here, and a recording can be found on the EbS website. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)


Commission welcomes European Parliament vote on extension and reinforcement of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Juncker Plan

The Commission welcomes the vote by Members of the European Parliament's Budgets and Economic and Monetary Affairs committees to agree their position on extending, expanding and reinforcing the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the so-called "EFSI 2.0". The proposal seeks to extend the EFSI's duration and enhance its financial capacity. The target of investment mobilised is to be increased from EUR 315 billion by 2018 to at least half a trillion euro by 2020. The proposal also places a greater emphasis on additionality and aims to further enhance the EFSI's transparency and geographic balance. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "The European Fund for Strategic Investments has already proven to be an important tool to boost investment, support jobs and spur growth across all 28 Member States. The extension of the EFSI represents an opportunity to build on that success. I look forward to continue working with Members of the European Parliament and Member States in the weeks to come to secure a final agreement." The Commission now calls on the Parliament and Member States to continue working towards the final adoption of the EFSI 2.0 proposal as quickly as possible to the benefit of public and private promoters driving investment projects in Europe. A full press release is available here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)


Juncker Plan: EUR 80 million for Italian SMEs

The Juncker Plan has backed a European Investment Fund (EIF) agreement with Banca Popolare Pugliese, an Italian financial intermediary, to provide EUR 80 million in financing to innovative Italian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps over the next two years. The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Juncker Plan, was a crucial factor in making this loan agreement possible. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "The Investment Plan has already proven to be a success and Italy is amongst the Plan's top beneficiaries. I am delighted that, with today's agreement, even more Italian small and medium-sized businesses will gain access to the finance they need to innovate, grow, hire new employees and expand their activities.” The Juncker Plan is now expected to trigger over EUR 31 billion in investments in Italy and EUR 183.5 billion across Europe. For the latest figures country-by-country, see here. A full press release is available here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)


Commission introduces new measures to fight poaching and end trade in raw ivory

The Commission is moving to end the export of old raw ivoryas of 1 July, with the adoption of new guidance on the EU rules governing ivory trade. Today's decision, foreseen in the EU Action Plan against wildlife trafficking, will help to prevent that legal ivory trade fuels international ivory trafficking, which has risen significantly over the last decade. The Commission will also grant new financial support of € 2.25 million to the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to help with the implementation of the decisions on international wildlife trade agreed at the CITES Conference of Parties in October 2016. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said: "Fighting international ivory trafficking is a battle we can't afford to lose. By ending the export of ivory tusks and other raw ivory we are living up to our responsibility. And we are delivering on the next commitment in our Action Plan against wildlife trafficking. Our financial support for developing countries will strengthen their capacity to implement the CITES Convention. This is essential to achieve progress in the fight against poaching and for sustainable wildlife trade." A press release and Q&A on the new guidelines are available online.(For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: + 32 229 93321)


Aviation Safety: Commission clears all airlines from Benin and Mozambique from EU Air Safety List

The European Commission updated the EU Air Safety List, the list of non-European airlines that do not meet international safety standards, and are therefore subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union. The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for European citizens, which is a top priority of the Aviation Strategy adopted by the Commission in December 2015. Following today's update, all airlines certified in Benin and Mozambique are cleared from the list, while four individual airlines are added (Med-View, Mustique Airways, Aviation Company Urga and Air Zimbabwe). Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "I am glad that we are able to take all carriers from Benin and Mozambique out of the air safety list. Their reforms have paid off. This is also a signal to the 16 countries that remain on the list. It shows that work and cooperation pays off. The Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency are ready to assist them and raise the safety standards worldwide". More information is available in a press release in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

European Commission marks the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

Ahead of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people are our parents, our children, our siblings, our friends, our neighbours and our fellow Europeans. Let's treat them as such. It's time we put an end to the widespread discrimination against LGBTI people together."Commissioner Věra Jourová added: "No matter who you love or who you are, everyone should enjoy the same rights and be protected from discrimination in the same way. We call on Member States to unblock discussions on the Equal Treatment Directive which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in education, social protection and access to goods and services." Last year, the Commission published a list of actions to advance LGBTI equality, which sets out the EU's activities in this field for 2016-2019. Outside the EU, engaging in same-sex relationships is still considered a crime in more than 70 countries. You can find online a statement by High Representative/ Vice-President Federica Mogherini. For the first ever, the Commission will organise, under the responsibility of Commissioner Günther Oettinger,an event for European Commission staff on the occasion of IDAHOT tomorrow, on the theme of ‘Inclusion and Identity in the Workplace: an asset for all of us'. To show the Commission's support for diversity and for LGBTI equality, the European Commission's Berlaymont headquarters and the headquarters of the European External Action Service will be lit up tonight in the colours of the rainbow flag. A factsheet on advancing LGBTI equality is available online, as well as the first testimony in the series of #EU4LGBTI stories - Roberto & Andrea. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: + 32 229 67083; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

EUROSTAT: Le PIB en hausse de 0,5% tant dans la zone euro que dans l'UE28

Au cours du premier trimestre 2017, le PIB corrigé des variations saisonnières a augmenté de 0,5% dans la zone euro (ZE19) ainsi que dans l'UE28 par rapport au trimestre précédent, selon l'estimation rapide publiée par Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. Au cours du quatrième trimestre 2016, le PIB avait crû respectivement de 0,5% et 0,6%. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Juliana Dahl – Tel.: +32 229 59914)


EUROSTAT: Excédent de 30,9 milliards d'euros du commerce international de biens de la zone euro

D'après les premières estimations pour le mois de mars 2017, les exportations de biens de la zone euro (ZE19) vers le reste du monde se sont établies à 202,3 milliards d'euros, en hausse de 13% par rapport à mars 2016 (178,9 mrds). Les importations depuis le reste du monde ont quant à elles été de 171,4 mrds d'euros, en hausse de 14% par rapport à mars 2016 (150,7 mrds). En conséquence, la zone euro a enregistré en mars 2017 un excédent de 30,9 mrds d'euros de son commerce international de biens avec le reste du monde, contre +28,2 mrds en mars 2016. Le commerce intra-zone euro a progressé à 168,1 mrds d'euros en mars 2017, soit +12% par rapport à mars 2016. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations:Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska- Tel.: +32 229 Kinga 51383)


Statement by Commissioner Stylianides on the Ebola outbreak in the Northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management and EU Ebola Coordinator Christos Stylianides has issued a statementfollowing the declaration of an Ebola outbreak in the Northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo: "The EU is fully committed to provide all support necessary. The national authorities, with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the European Commission's experts in the country as well as international medical NGOs, have set in motion initial measures to respond to the situation. The European Commission's Emergency response Coordination Centre (ERCC) is taking necessary preparedness measures for a potential EU intervention in case the European Medical Corps and logistical capacities would be needed. In these early days of the outbreak our priority must be to maintain close and efficient coordination with the national authorities, the WHO, EU Member States, international partners and NGOs on the ground. (…) In this regard we are in close contact with our Member States. This new outbreak is a stark reminder that we can never let our guard down. (…)" The full statement is online here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322, Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Le Commissaire Moedas à l'inauguration de SESAME, "un projet phare de la diplomatie scientifique"

Le commissaire en charge de la recherche, de la science et de l'innovation Carlos Moedas a participé aujourd'hui à la cérémonie d'inauguration de l'accélérateur de particules SESAME ("Synchrotron Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East"), à Allan, en Jordanie, en présence de sa Majesté le Roi de Jordanie et des représentants de 17 pays partenaires, ainsi que de l'UNESCO, de l'AIEA et du CERN. Le Commissaire a souligné le fort engagement de l'Union européenne dans ce projet, centre de recherche le plus avancé du Proche-Orient et symbole de la collaboration pacifique entre les pays de la région. "SESAME est la preuve la plus incontestable que la diplomatie scientifique est synonyme d'excellence et représente un outil incomparable pour améliorer les relations entre les pays, les régions et les cultures en promouvant la paix et la stabilité dans la région. La science est un langage universel qui permet d'ouvrir des canaux de communication et de construire des relations de confiance. Je suis fier que l'Union européenne apporte son soutien à ce projet phare de la diplomatie scientifique", a déclaré le Commissaire. Demain, mercredi, le commissaire Moedas continuera sa visite au Proche-Orient et rencontrera à Jérusalem le Premier ministre israélien Benyamin Netanyahou et le ministre de l'Economie Eli Cohen. Après une rencontre avec des étudiants à l'université Ben Gourion de Beer-Sheva, il visitera le Cyber Teck Park de la ville. Il participera le soir à une réception en l'honneur des 10 ans du Conseil européen de la recherche (ERC). Plus d'informations sur SESAME et l'engagement de l'UE ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: + 32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278; Maud Noyon – Tel.: +32 229 80379)

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

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Motion for a resolution on Zimbabwe – B8-2016-1000

The European Parliament,

-having regard to its previous resolutions on Zimbabwe, notably those of 7 February 2013 and 25 May 2015 on the case of human rights defender late Itai Dzamara,

-having regard to the National Indicative Programme (NIP) for Zimbabwe,

-having regard to the EU Annual Action Programme for Zimbabwe adopted in 2015,

-having regard to Council Regulation (EU) 2016/214 of 15 February 2016 amending Regulation (EC) N° 314/2004 concerning certain restrictive measures in respect of Zimbabwe, extending sanctions by one year,

-having regard to Local EU Statement on Local Governance on 30 June 2016 violence and the one on violence on 12 July 2016, both issued in Harare,

-having regard to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 1981, which Zimbabwe has ratified,

-having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 policies,

-having regard to the Universal Declaration of Haman Rights of 1948,

-having regard to the Constitution of Zimbabwe,

-having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

-having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of procedure,

A.whereas veteran President Robert Mugabe has dominated the country's political scene for 36 years ; whereasthe longstanding partnership between the EU and the people of Zimbabwe begun with Zimbabwe's independence from Great Britain in 1980, providing development assistance to the country;

B.whereas since 2000 Zimbabwe has struggled to feed its own people due to severe droughts and the effects of a land reform programme, which saw the seizure of white-owned farms redistributed to landless black Zimbabweans, which led to sharp falls in production;

C.whereas cash-strapped and impoverished, Zimbabwe's economy faces severe challenges, unemployment and poverty became endemic and political strife and repression commonplace; whereas many Zimbabweans have left the country in search of work in South Africa; whereas, according to a report this week by the Commission of Human Rights in Zimbabwe, the government is accused of denying food aid to opposition supporters, an aid distributed by the government but often purchased with donations from the international community;

D.whereas the EU and its member states have since 2009 provided over US$1 billion in development assistance, with an emphasis on supporting the provision of social services and food security, reinforcing democratic institutions, and fostering economic recovery;

E.whereas the National Indicative Programme (NIP) for Zimbabwe has been allocated 234 million euro for the period of 2014-2020 under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) with focus on 3 main sectors, namely: health, agriculture based economic development and governance (la gestion des finances publiques) and institution building; (la magistrature, Commission électorale du Zimbabwe); Rappelle que l’UE est le troisième plus grand donateur après les Etats Unis et le Royaume-Uni;

F.whereas the current situation in Zimbabwe with regard to human rights, democracy and rule of law is worsening; que la disparition forcée en mars dernier du journaliste et militant politique Itai Dzamara reste non élucidée; whereas discontent has been growing in the country for several months due to social and economic crises, the restriction of the rights of freedom of expression for journalists and human rights defenders through arbitrary arrests, detentions and prosecutions; whereas the government blocked Internet access and social media text messaging to obstruct people protesting traffic police corruption, widespread poverty and lack of jobs;

G.whereas “the tide has turned” since Pastor Evan Mawarire launched the movement “This Flag” as a peaceful citizen sling by posting a video clip where he denounced the mismanagement of the government, which plunged into a serious economic crisis since the early 2000s; whereas CODE (Coalition of Democrats- alliance of opposition parties) states that since the installation of the ZANU-PF government in 2013 after the elections of that year, the people of Zimbabwe have been enduring extreme hardships: the economy collapsed, with the attendant loss of jobs, incomes and livelihoods, decimation of production and productive assets;

H.whereas increasing poverty exacerbated by a long drought, due notamment au phénomène climatique El Nino, the financial crisis and the non-payment of salaries of civil servants in June and the ban by the government to import essential commodities from South Africa, are the main factors that led people to take to the streets and ensure the success of the general strike on July 6th 2016; whereas Pastor Evan Mawarire was accused of leading a “campaign to overthrow or attempted to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means” have been arrested on 13 July 2016 but finally released; whereas, on Friday 26 August 2016, a demonstration organised by 18 opposition political parties and the civil society has degenerated and there were more than 60 demonstrators arrested;

I.whereas the political opposition, led by Morgan Tsvangirai (former prime-minister of the country) and Joyce Mujuru (former Mugabe’s vice-president), says that on every Friday demonstrations will be organised in Harare, the capital city until the general elections of 2018; whereas on the civil society side, the campaign “This Flag” is at the forefront of the protests;

J.whereas the government banned all demonstrations in the capital city Harare on Thursday 1st September 2016, while a protest was planned for the next day and that the country has been shaken for several weeks by a significant protest movement against the confiscation of the power by President Mugabe;

K.whereas the veterans of the independence struggle, close allies of Mugabe in the ruling party, boycotted his speech on 8 August 2016, denouncing his dictatorial drift and his failure to solve the grave economic crisis plaguing the country since 2000; whereas the President lived the boycott as a betrayal and, in retaliation, he arrested 3 members of the National Association of Independence Veterans;

L.whereas Zimbabwe’s 92 years old president and oldest president in the world has a clear succession plan as he is up for re-election and is preparing his 50-year old wife, Grace Mugabe, to which he wants to pass over the presidency; qu’une lutte pour le pouvoir oppose Grace Mugabe au premier vice-président Emmerson Mnangagwa, soutenu par l'appareil sécuritaire et des anciens combattants thus a considerable uncertainty exists about whether a stable succession will take place even if he dies or departs the presidency by other means;

1. Notes with great concern the continued deterioration of the human rights situation since the installation of the ZANU-PF government in 2013 and in particular during the last 3 months; strongly condemns the use of brutal force against peaceful demonstrators on 6 July 2016;

2. welcomes the lifting of the ban on demonstration in the capital city Harare and greets the courage of the justice which acted in line with sections 50 and 59 of the Zimbabwean Constitution ; deplores the attempt by Mugabe to interfere with the judiciary after the lifting of the ban on demonstrations;

3. recalls to Zimbabwean authorities that freedom of assembly, association and expression are essential components of any democracy and are enshrined in the Constitution of the country; calls on the government of Zimbabwe to put an end to the harassment and human rights abuses against human rights defenders, journalists and members of civil society; demande que toute la lumière soit faite sur la disparition forcée du journaliste et militant politique Itai Dzamara et que les responsables soient traduits en justice;

4. urges President Mugabe, his government and his leading party, the ZANU-PF to take heed of the people’s call for change ; notes objectively that the post- Mugabe time must be anticipated;

5. supports the Council regulation of 15 February 2016 concerning certain restrictive measures in respect of Zimbabwe;

6. insists that the EU must insure that the funding to Zimbabwe for the NIP effectively addresses the allocated sectors; appeals to the international community, the development partners of Zimbabwe to take urgent and effective measures to help Zimbabwean people of whom 1.5 million people were in need of food aid during the 2015-2016 lean period leading up to the next harvest according to Amnesty International report;

7.condamne les expulsions forcées et arbitraires qui ont lieu tant dans la capitale que dans l’ensemble du pays;

8. calls on the EU and its Member states to work toward a contingency plan, given the plight of Zimbabwe and its humanitarian needs, to continue to offer and increase its assistance in order to promote democracy, protection of human rights and the rule of law through civil society organisations, so that Zimbabwe can become a free and prosperous country;

9. instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and the parliaments of the Member states, the government and the parliament of Zimbabwe, the Council of the African Union and the Secretary General of the UN.

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Report – Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and its Member States, of the one part, and the SADC EPA States, of the other part – A8-0242/2016 – Committee on International Trade

History of Economic Partnership Agreements

When the Cotonou Partnership Agreement was established in 2000, it called for fundamental changes in the longstanding non-reciprocal trade preferences that had governed the economic and political relationship between the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the European Union for almost 40 years. The main reason for this was that the impact of these unilateral preferences had been disappointing: firstly, the share of ACP trade in the EU market was continuously falling and most countries did not manage to use these preferences to diversify their economic structures. Secondly, the preferences were not compatible with the rules of the WTO, as they discriminated against non-ACP developing countries.

The EU and ACP agreed to negotiate reciprocal, though asymmetric trade agreements known as Economic Partnership Agreements. ACP countries themselves decided in which regional grouping they wanted to negotiate. Negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) started in 2002 and were expected to be concluded by the end of 2007, a date by which the WTO waiver would expire. Besides ensuring that ACP products would secure indefinite, duty free quota free market access to the EU, EPAs were mainly meant to be a development tool enabling ACP countries to deepen their own regional integration dynamics and to facilitate their integration into the global economy.

Today, all non-EPA states have the EU's "Generalised Scheme of Preferences" (GSP) or the “Everything But Arms” arrangement (EBA). However, for those countries that had concluded an interim EPA in 2007, in order to avoid market disruption and to allow the sufficient time to sign and ratify the agreement, the EU adopted a Market Access Regulation (MAR), Council Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007, as of 1st January 2008 – that enabled an advanced application of EPAs. It was later decided that the MAR treatment [free access to the EU] would expire on 1st October 2014 for countries that did not enter into a regional agreement or had not taken the necessary steps to implement their interim EPAs. Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland were among the MAR countries that did enter into a regional EPA before 1 October 2014, and the Commission duly adopted Delegated Acts keeping them on the MAR, while stating that they were expected to see through their commitment and ratify the regional EPA by 1 October 2016.

EU- Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA

The SADC consists of 15 members. Seven of them started negotiating an EPA with the EU as the SADC EPA Group, namely Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa. South Africa initially participated as an observer and in a supportive capacity but formally joined negotiations in 2007.

The core of the EU-SADC EPA is the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), the oldest customs union in the world. By joining this configuration, Mozambique and Angola intended to enhance their already strong economic and trade links with SACU. The other eight SADC Member States (Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) are part of other regional EPA configurations.

At the end of 2007, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and Namibia agreed an Interim region-to-region EPA with the EU. The interim EPA contains a clause allowing Angola and/or South Africa to join rapidly if they so wish. In the meantime Angola, being a Least Developed Country, maintains duty-free quota-free market access to the EU under the “Everything But Arms” initiative, while EU - South Africa trade is covered by the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) signed in 1999.

Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique signed the interim EPA in June 2009. Although Namibia initialled the agreement more than nine years ago, they decided not to sign.

Both sides agreed to continue negotiations for a comprehensive regional EPA covering services, investment and trade-related rules. In fact in 2010, the interim EPA signatory countries suspended the process of ratification of the agreement, pending the conclusion of comprehensive regional negotiations.

On 15 July 2014, the EU concluded negotiations with six states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA Group, comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland. Angola finally decided not to initial the agreement, but may join in the future pursuant to a specific accession clause in the agreement.

Regional integration and complexities

The SADC EPA Group is a very diverse group. The population of the six countries of the SADC EPA Group accumulates to some 100 million inhabitants, half of which live in South Africa. Their GDP according to figures provided by the World Bank in 2014 was 410 bln Euro, 85% of which was produced by South-Africa.

The group contains two least-developed countries (Lesotho and Mozambique) as well as one BRICS country (South Africa), which concluded a Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) with the EU in 1999. Without the EPA, their GDP levels would force Swaziland into GSP status and Botswana and Namibia would graduate to Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) status.

Five of the SADC EPA Group states are part of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Established in 1910, this is the oldest customs union in the world. Is also has a common external tariff. Mozambique is not part of SACU, but has long established trade and investment links with SACU.

In 2013, the EU imported goods in the value of 31 bln Euro from the SADC EPA Group while exporting goods in the value of 33 bln Euro to SADC. SADC exports to the EU are composed of oil 23% (from Angola), diamonds 11% (from Botswana), coal 12%, precious stones, metals and fish (Namibia), and sugar (from Swaziland).

2009 EP resolution on SADC EPA

In March 2009 the European Parliament voted a resolution on the SADC EU Interim EPA and called amongst others for:

•  A WTO conform EPA

•  duty free quota free access into EU market

•  support for existing regional integration (Southern African Customs Union, SACU)

•  phasing out of EU agricultural export subsidies

•  EU flexibility on export taxes, MFN clause and infant industry protection

•  simpler and improved rules of origin, promoting regional cumulation

•  the inclusion of a development cooperation chapter with increased and adequate assistance

•  importance of respect for ILO conventions

•  monitoring of implementation coordinated by the relevant parliamentary committee

Notably, the agreement never entered into force as it was signed but never ratified.

Key provisions in the EPA

Although this development-oriented regional trade agreement currently covers only merchandise trade, development-cooperation and trade and sustainable development provisions, it also leaves the door open to negotiate further provisions on services, investment, intellectual property, public procurement and enhanced stipulations on sustainable development.

The asymmetric nature of the agreement establishes a "positive discrimination" for the SADC EPA partners ensuring duty-free access to the EU market, at the same time reciprocally eliminating barriers to "substantially all the trade" and ensures WTO-compatibility, promoting regional integration, economic cooperation and good governance. EU will offer duty free quota free to five SADC countries, a continuation of present practice, but not disrupted through MAR amendment. Instead of offering unilateral preference, trade relations between SADC EPA countries and the EU are now stipulated in a contractual arrangement. Under progressive market opening provisions, SADC EPA countries will liberalise 86% of trade with the EU (Mozambique 74%) over a period of 10 years, excluding sensitive agricultural and fisheries products.

Promotion of regional integration

The EPA did not only avoid breaking up the oldest existing customs union in the world through the MAR amendment, but instead strengthened the SACU by harmonising South Africa to SACU, and brings Mozambique closer to SACU. The EU-SA TDCA used to de facto apply to the whole SACU as one legal entity. Its trade provisions will be replaced by an agreement which has been negotiated by all. Imports coming from the EU will be subject to a single external tariff.

The EPA also strengthens regional integration in various other ways, including through its Rules of origin regional cumulation possibilities, the openness to other SADC states (Angola) joining the EPA, and through institutional strengthening of SACU. The dispute settlement mechanism in the EPA builds on the DSM provisions from TDCA and will apply to all SADC EPA countries. In addition, common provisions on trade management (such as safeguards) and common decision making bodies will further strengthen the regional integration process.

Furthermore, "regional preference provisions" rule out a possibility for the SADC EPA countries to grant products originating in other SADC EPA countries a less favourable treatment than to those imported from the EU.

The parties commit to facilitate regional trade by boosting customs co-operation and by implementing reforms, in particular by harmonising and simplifying procedures and regulations in the SADC region, facilitating transit and fighting fraud.

Promotion of trade and development

There are several safeguards foreseen: multilateral safeguards, bilateral safeguards, agricultural safeguards as well as a transitional safeguard clause for a list of products originating from Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS) to mitigate any potential negative impact in these countries.

As the use of agricultural export subsidies will no longer be allowed upon entry into force of the EPA, another key demand of SADC EPA countries was met.

Gradual lifting of tariffs on intermediates and inputs, such as fertilisers and machinery, will give a further boost to the value-addition process.

On services, the EPA contains a rendez-vous clause. Negotiations with limited number of SADC countries on services will continue. The rendez-vous clause gives the opportunity to implement provisions on services at a later stage, as it also does for public procurement and IPR.

An important Protocol on Geographic Indications between South Africa and the EU is included, which was a key demand of the EU. In total, 105 South African products (102 of which concern wines) and 251 products are covered by the protocol. The EU will protect South African names such as Rooibos and numerous wine names like Stellenbosch and Paarl.

A detailed chapter on development cooperation identifies trade-related areas that could benefit from EU financial support. Differently from the ECOWAS EPA however, which foresees a considerable financial envelope, there is no financial commitment made at this stage. Nevertheless, specific programmes from the national and regional indicative programmes for the DCI and the 11th EDF are scheduled to be funded in the context of the preparation and implementation of the EPA.

Policy space

In the EPA, the EU has shown flexibility allowing SADC EPA States to "grandfather" existing export duties and to apply new export taxes in exceptional circumstances in case of specific revenue needs, to promote infant industries or for environmental protection. Generally more room is provided for BLNS countries, but also some limited possibilities for South Africa on a limited number of products (8) if it can justify industrial development needs for maximum 12 years. That text allows SADC countries to benefit from raw materials.

A MFN clause was included, but will not automatically extend preferences to the EU. These extensions have to be examined first and would only apply to agreements with major trading countries. The MFN clause is only applicable to customs duties and fees, rules of origins are not included.

As described before many safeguards are foreseen, also to protect infant industries. Moreover, SADC had the possibility to exclude sensitive products from liberalisation.

Respect or values and monitoring the implementation of the agreement

The agreement contains a non-execution clause (Art 110.2), which provides the basis for taking 'appropriate measures' under the existing Cotonou Agreement if a Party fails to fulfil its obligations in respect to the fundamental principles in Article 2 of the Agreement. Suspension of trade benefits is one such measure even if this will be considered an action of last resort.

The first part of the EPA is devoted to sustainable development, which underlines the importance of these provisions. The parties reconfirm their obligations under international law, including ILO conventions, and commit themselves not to derogate from their environmental and labour laws. The EPA also establishes a consultation procedure for any environmental or labour matter. Dialogue on such issues may involve relevant authorities and stakeholders. The agreement defines a comprehensive list of areas in which the partners will cooperate to foster sustainable development.

Your rapporteur believes it is important to strengthen the monitoring provisions in the agreement. In Article 4, the parties agree to continuously monitor the operation and the impact of this agreement, “within their respective participative processes”, to make sure that its “benefits for the people” is maximised. Also a review of the agreement will take place every five years (Article 116). However the practical tools for this monitoring need to be strengthened. Pending establishment of the abovementioned sustainable-development dialogue and relevant participative processes for monitoring, the absence of a Joint Parliamentary Committee and a Joint Consultative Committee (which do exist in the Cariforum EPA, but are not part of the SADC EPA text) may be felt here, unless existing structures can be used (regional Joint Parliamentary Assembly meetings; EU-South Africa parliamentary committee, etc.). These omissions are regrettable and pragmatic solutions will need to be found to address this weakness.


Your rapporteur recommends giving consent to the SADC - EU Economic Partnership Agreement. This EPA has the potential to bring fundamental positive change and contribute to sustainable economic growth and deepened intra-regional trade and integration.

However, the trade and partnership agreement can only be a small part of a larger strategy. The SADC states should conduct trade and development-friendly domestic policies and pursue structural reforms. The regulatory framework that attracts investment is another element in the equation. These countries should also consider using the potential of the EPA by going beyond trade in goods only and also address services in the future. The EU should provide assistance in terms of capacity building and trade related assistance. The EP will need to monitor implementation and raise issues when appropriate. Appropriate monitoring structures need to be put in place to maximize the impact of the agreement.

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December 2021


December 2021