Africa, what a hot dream! European investments on

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At the initiative of France, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union until the end of June, the European Commission is trying to persuade the 27 Member States to coordinate their EU public investment efforts in Africa, amounting to € 20 billion a year. The European executive aims to reach an agreement with the Member States ahead of a summit scheduled for February 17 in Brussels, which will be attended by leaders of European and African states, Bloomberg reports. But the plan of President Macron and the Commission does not seem very easy to implement.

Some Member States oppose the signing of a joint European Union strategy in Africa, which is intended to be a response to China’s growing economic influence on the African continent, according to official sources inside the EU who are familiar with the talks.

Germany, for example, has suggested that some of the projects the EU wants to propose for the European-African summit are not yet ready for implementation, said sources who wished to remain anonymous. Other countries, including Hungary, Portugal and Finland, have said they cannot make specific commitments at this stage, as national budgets for this year are still being worked on internally.

Amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the rift between European states over foreign policy has resurfaced, and relations with Africa could now highlight new ones. With regard to France and its EU foreign policy plans, President Macron has been trying for years to persuade his colleagues in the other 26 Member States to coordinate their cross-continental work so that they can respond firmly to a changing global landscape. , especially marked by the growing influence of China.

The European Commission has warned Member States that if their investments in Africa are made in part, pursuing only the national interests of each state, then the impact of these investments is likely to be diluted. To reduce this risk, the Commission argues that a coherent and common strategy across the European Union is needed. In addition, the EU Executive is trying to persuade national governments to take more initiative in Africa in order to facilitate their success.

Another line of fault for Member States is the proposed list of priority projects.

Thus, Spain pointed out that the North African initiatives are under-represented, compared to the projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, the quoted sources also said.

A spokesman for the French EU Presidency said that significant resources and time had been allocated to consultations with Member States so that this new approach to the EU’s partnership with Africa could be launched in the best possible way.

A spokeswoman for the Brussels Executive said that in recent weeks the Commission had stepped up its efforts to complete the investment package in a timely manner.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, is working hard with Emmanuel Macron to get Member States’ support for this plan. Michel argues that the investment package will help ensure cooperation between African countries on migration issues, including in the fight against illegal arrivals and smugglers.

The February 17 summit is seen as the cornerstone of launching this new EU-Africa partnership, although European officials say that its success will ultimately depend on the generosity the EU could show towards Africa. .

Recently, the EU’s relationship with African countries has been deteriorating due to the way European countries have handled the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some African governments have protested against the EU’s decision to impose travel restrictions on South African countries following the discovery of the Omicron variant, saying they were offended when European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the decision without warning. according to sources inside the Commission. Another issue of discord between the EU and Africa has been related to the abandonment of patents for the production of vaccines against Covid-19.