The German EU Council Presidency - COVID-19 and the Need for a Stronger EU-Africa Partnership
Germany holds the EU Council Presidency from 1 July to 31 December 2020, © AA
During its term as Council Presidency, Germany will lend its full support to an ever stronger EU-Africa partnership aimed at building a shared and brighter future for our peoples.
For the year of 2020, Europe and Africa have set themselves an ambitious agenda for an ever stronger EU-Africa Partnership. The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, made her first official visit outside the European Union (EU) to Addis Ababa underlining the EU’s strong commitment to advance the partnership. Europe and Africa are united by a shared understanding of an effective multilateralism and a rules-based international order, where the global challenges of our time are addressed collectively: peace and security, climate change, sustainable growth, digitization and migration – to name but a few.
When COVID-19 struck at the beginning of this year, it revealed in drastic ways how interconnected we all are. While the rapid spread of the pandemic has impacted all of us, it has not affected us in similar ways. It has hit Africa particularly hard, causing severe economic, social and humanitarian damage.
For Europe’s partnership with Africa, the present crisis has reinforced our determination for closer cooperation, guided by a sense of shared responsibility and solidarity. In a joint Financial Times op-ed, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European and African leaders have stated firmly: “only a global victory that fully includes Africa can bring this pandemic to an end.”
The EU fully supports international cooperation and multilateral solutions to the COVID-19 crisis. It is committed to support the most vulnerable, notably in Africa. The EU provided immediate support from existing resources, in defence of healthcare systems and to address the immediate social and economic consequences of the pandemic. As of end of June 2020 a total of almost 36 billion Euros have been mobilised and will be used to address the devastating effects of the COVID-19 crisis in partner countries and regions around the world. Special attention is given to Least Developed Countries, mostly in Africa, and countries in situations of fragility or affected by conflict. The current situation offers opportunities to strengthen partnerships across Africa, and beyond.
As Germany has assumed the Presidency of the Council of the EU on July 1 for the next six months, Africa is at the heart of the EU’s global response to COVID-19, echoing the United Nations’ call to ‘build back better’. As ‘Team Europe’, we stand with our neighbor continent to respond to the immediate priorities of African states, societies and people in need in this crisis.
In making a strong commitment to ‘Team Europe’, Germany has taken extensive steps in the fight against COVID-19, for example by helping to build resilient health systems and mitigate the economic and social impact for people in Africa. Amongst other bi- and multilateral commitments,
Germany backs the World Health Organization (WHO) in its coordinating role in the fight against COVID-19 by increasing its annual commitment for 2020 to over 500 million Euros (incl. 250 million Euros for the WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan), making it the largest donor;
We are expanding our cooperation with the African Union’s Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to advance diagnostics and disseminate information;
We support the European Commission’s Coronavirus Global Response initiative and the WHO-initiated global ACT platform to develop and ensure an equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments. Germany’s commitments amount to a total of 908 million Euroswhich includes 230 million Euros for CEPI and an additional 100 million Euros for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance;
Within the G7 and the G20, we have strongly advocated for a moratorium on debt payments for least developed countries and secured additional credit lines through World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Moreover, the Federal Government, already the world’s second largest bilateral humanitarian donor, is providing 450 million Euros in additional humanitarian assistance to ensure food security, water supply and sanitation for the most vulnerable groups, including refugees and displaced persons in conflict regions, and to keep the humanitarian logistical system up and running.
In Namibia, the EU has been a long standing development partner. To help Namibia in addressing the worst effects of the COVID crisis, the EU mobilized 10 million Euros (about 190 million NAD). On a bilateral basis, Germany has made available additional 14.5 Mio. Euros (about 275.5 million NAD) for ongoing programs to support Namibia in fighting Covid-19, and coping with its impact on business, livelihoods and nature conservation.
Without collective action, solidarity, and empathy, it will be impossible to tackle this global challenge. If we uphold these values in our joint effort against COVID-19, we can apply them to many other pressing global challenges we are facing together. The upcoming AU-EU Summit is a milestone for jointly developing a broad and ambitious political agenda that will deepen our strategic cooperation in the long term. During its term as Council Presidency, Germany will lend its full support to an ever stronger EU-Africa partnership aimed at building a shared and brighter future for our peoples.
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Windhoek
Delegation of the European Union Windhoek
This article was published in “The Namibian” on 11 August 2020