EU-Africa Pulse: News Review (3-10 February 2017)
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EU-LIBYA MIGRANT DEAL DRAWS CRITICISM. Twelve Libyan non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have issued a joint statement criticising the EU’s latest migrant policy as well as the Italy-Libya deal signed earlier which agreed that migrants should be sent back to Libya and repatriated voluntarily from there. NGO’s say that both policies represented an immoral and inhuman attitude towards migrants. (Libyan Herald, 10 February 2017). On 6 February, the EU Member States also adopted conclusions on Libya, detailing financial support for Libyan border control and surveillance in the hope of containing people likely to attempt the Mediterranean Sea crossing.

From the governance perspective, the conclusions also make it clear that the EU is committed to “supporting the Presidency Council (PC) and the Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Prime Minister Fayez
Sarraj, backed by the United Nations.” Despite this, the Italian government “voiced renewed support for General Khalifa Haftar who controls the eastern part of his country…reiterating calls for him to assume a role in Libya’s government in Tripoli.” Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini said the EU primarily supports the government recognised by the U.N., but that Brussels was also “willing to be flexible”. (8 February 2017, POLITICO Europe).

EAC-EU ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP. Economic experts have advised the EAC to consolidate regional markets and forgo signing the EAC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), despite also advising that the EPAcaters for the protection of infant and sensitive industries.” The work of the Uganda Export Promotion Board shows ‘that trade between the regional partner states is growing in size and value while the trade between the region and the EU is slowly but steadily taking a tumble’ (allAfrica, 5 February 2017). Also, at the AU summit last month President Museveni of Uganda spoke with President John Magufuli of Tanzania with a view to trying to save the deal. (allAfrica, 7 February 2017). Meanwhile Kenya’s bid to build a shared customs with its neighbours in East Africa remains in limbo as the EPA remains unsigned (The East African, 31 January, 2017).

EU AND MOROCCO TRADE RELATIONS CALLED INTO QUESTION. According to Reuters, Morocco's government said it would end economic cooperation with the European Union if the bloc does not honour a trade deal (related to agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fisheries) between the Morocco and the EU (Reuters, 6 February 2017).  This comes weeks after an EU court ruled that the territory of Western Sahara is excluded from the scope of this very agreement. EU Foreign Affairs Chief, Federica Mogherini, subsequently met with Delegate Minister of Foreign Affairs of Morocco, Nasser Bourita. In the joint statement issued following their meeting it is stated that “appropriate measures would be taken where necessary to secure the implementation of the current free trade agreement for processed agricultural products and fishery products between the European Union and Morocco” (World Bulletin 7 February 2017). On the other hand, MEP Norbert Neuser, Chair of the European Parliament’s Western Sahara Intergroup called for “The EU, Commission and Member States, now have to make sure they respect the judgement and exclude the territory of Western Sahara from the application of the EU-Morocco agreements.” 

AU CALLS FOR NEW NEGOTIATION PATTERNS WITH THE EU. Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama reports on the African Union (AU) heads of states’ conscious decision to change negotiation patterns with the EU. According to, The Cable, the AU seeks to even out the playing field and move away from EU negotiations with single Africa countries. Onyeama explains that the "AU is saying henceforth if EU was going to negotiate, it should only negotiate with the union…any EU member countries wants to negotiate with any African country individually that is acceptable, but not the EU as a block to negotiate with an individual African country” (The Cable, 5 February 2017).

EU PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON EU EXTERNAL FINANCING INSTRUMENTS (EFI). The public consultation is open to all stakeholders in beneficiary and EU countries: public national and local authorities, non-governmental organisations, academics, development agencies and bodies, think tanks, consultancies, private sector organisations, development banks and citizens. The 11th European Development Fund is an EFI although not funded by the EU budget but by individual Member States. The objective of this consultation is (1) To gather feedback from the broadest possible range of stakeholders, including those in beneficiary countries and in the EU Member States, on the emerging conclusions from the evaluations (2) To gather preliminary ideas on the future external financing instruments after the current ones have expired by 31 December 2020. The consultation is open from 7 February 2017 until 3 May 2017.  

GERMANY PUSHES FOR INVESTMENT DEALS AT GERMAN-AFRICA BUSINESS SUMMIT. German Economic Affairs minister Brigitte Zypries said Africa is a major priority for his government, as the country eyes more opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa “for investing, trading, learning and connecting – both for business and government” at the second German-African Business Summit in Nairobi, which took place last week (The Star, 10 February 2017). German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Mueller talked about his Marshall Plan for Africa and called on German companies to focus on Africa (Standard Media, 10 February 2017).
NIGERIA WORKS ON REMOVING EU BEAN EXPORT BAN REMOVED. The Coordinating Director of the agency, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, said all hands are on deck to ensure that the EU lifts the ban before 2019. Noting that the EU ban on Nigerian beans has severely affected the economy, Isegbe said there was a need to avoid future rejection of Nigeria’s agricultural commodities. According to him, the EU had promised to reverse the ban if necessary measures were put in place before 2019 (The Guardian, 10 February 2017).

GHANA INTRODUCES NEW FOOD SAFETY STANDARDS TO LIFT EU BAN. The Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has introduced a new Standard Operational Procedures for export inspection and phytosanitary certification of vegetables, fruits and plants. These new Standard Procedures are aimed at tackling the inefficiencies in the system highlighted by the audit team from the EU, since the measures address general requirements for export, inspection procedure, issue of phytosanitary certificate, investigation of non-compliance and traceability. (Fresh Plaza, 7 February 2017)

BREXIT WATCH: BREXIT BILL PASSES PARLIAMENTARY VOTE AND EU PREPARE FOR TALKS. UK Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Brexit Bill. This result propels the UK one step closer to the triggering of Article 50 in March 2017 as per the British Prime Minister’s wishes. The draft legislation was approved by 494 votes to 122, and now moves to the House of Lords. Labour MP (Clive Lewis) chose to resign at this key moment rather than follow the communal Labor party stance and vote for this bill. (BBC News, 8 February 2017)In the same week, the European Commission hosted a technical seminar on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom (6 February 2017). Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the UK chaired the meeting which also included senior officials from the EU27 Member States, the European Parliament and the Secretariat of the Council of the EU. The seminar focused on issues surrounding the financial settlement and citizens' rights. (European Commission, 6 February 2017)
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