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Opinion| EPP MEP Ramona Mănescu: Can EU still catch a ticket for the train to Africa?

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It is in the interest of the European Union to have a much stronger presence in Africa, EPP MEP Ramona Mănescu stated, in analysis that follows Jean-Claude Juncker’s state of the Union speech where he announced a new alliance with Africa to deepen economic relations and boost investment and jobs.

„If the European Union really wants to be successful with its initiative, it will need much more flexibility and it will have to show much more understanding of the realities on the African continent”, Mănescu warns.

Full text by EPP MEP Ramona Mănescu: 

„In February 2015, more than three and a half years ago, I was publishing [1] an analysis of the EU-Africa relationship. At that time I was pointing out towards the growing instability in the Sub-Saharan area, which will inevitably spill into southern Europe and even further.

The direct effect of this growing security issue is the increased migratory pressure on Europe and the proliferation of human trafficking and organized crime networks that profit from the suffering of others, getting richer and stronger.

Another effect is an increased insecurity within the European Union – uncontrolled movements of people are used by terrorist organizations, and organized crime networks which often “share personnel” with terrorist groups.

Security and stability are indissolubly linked to economic prosperity. Where there is no security, there is no prospect of economic development. The lack of economic future among the younger generation, which in many African countries represents a large majority (for example, in Nigeria, young people under 24 represent 62% of the country’s 190 million inhabitants [2]), lead in turn, to the desire to find a better future in one of the European countries.

What I said in 2015 is equally valid today: it is in the interest of the European Union to have a much stronger presence in Africa. We need to be involved not only at the political level but also in the economy of the black continent and very active in the investments sector. Of course, it is not just the EU’s interest: the European presence brings stability, security, development, jobs – all of which create the conditions for solid democracies, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Unfortunately, Europe, although it always had the capacity to be much more present on the African continent, chose to be more a spectator so far.

The same cannot be said about other major global actors, especially China. Between 2000 and 2014, China granted $ 6billion / year government credits to African countries. In 2015, after the Africa-China Cooperation Summit, President Xi Jinping tripled China’s involvement by offering up to $ 20billion / year. The effect? More than 3,000 infrastructure projects (most of them belonging to the critical infrastructure) were built with Chinese support.

In these circumstances, I can only welcome President Juncker’s announcemen[3] about the launch of a new Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs between Europe and Africa which would help create up to 10 million jobs in Africa in the next five years. To this target, we can add the EUR 44billion in public and private investments.

Of course, I would have wanted for my message to be heard in 2015 by the European leadership and less by the Chinese one. There are African countries, such as Kenya, which has $50 billion of debt, 72% of which comes from China [4].

If the European Union really wants to be successful with its initiative, it will need much more flexibility and it will have to show much more understanding of the realities on the African continent. China’s “no questions asked” approach represents a hard to beat competition, and in countries with a democracy deficiency it is an obvious advantage. Of course, we know that the EU will never be able to completely ignore the political and democratic context of the countries where it invests. That is why the European presence in Africa will have to be intelligent, patient and tenacious.

As I always said, economic growth and infrastructure development inevitably bring hope, stability and security. On such foundations, building solid democracies has much more chances and the whole set of values we believe here, in the European Union, gets a fertile ground.

An African continent which offers true hopes to young people and security to its citizens is the neighbour that the EU needs and the leverage needed to increase the level of bilateral economic exchanges, well above the today’s € 300 billion [5].”


[1] Uniunea Europeană trebuie să-și utilizeze instrumentele de gestionare a crizelor în vederea susținerii stabilității în Africa http://www.ramona-manescu.ro/uniunea-europeana-trebuie-sa-si-utilizeze-instrumentele-de-gestionare-a-crizelor-in-vederea-sustinerii-stabilitatii-in-africa/

[2] Nigeria Demographics Profile 2018: https://www.indexmundi.com/nigeria/demographics_profile.html

[3] State of the Union 2018 https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/soteu2018-speech_en_0.pdf

[4] How China is transforming Africa into the next ‘factory of the world’ https://bigthink.com/matt-davis/chinas-growing-influence-in-africa

[5] Competing in Africa: China, the European Union, and the United States https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2018/04/16/competing-in-africa-china-the-european-union-and-the-united-states/

 

 

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MEP Vasile Blaga supports a fair green transition for Romania: Gas and nuclear energy must be considered transitory

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MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) reaffirms his support for a fair green transition for Romania, in which gas and nuclear energy are accepted in order to achieve the objectives set by the European Ecological Pact.

The European Parliament hosted yesterday, 30 May, a public hearing whose guests were several experts who debated, together with members of the two committees ECON and ENVI, the inclusion of gas and nuclear energy in the taxonomy of the European Union. Many of the opinions expressed push the debate towards a rejection of the European Commission’s proposal of March whereby nuclear energy and gas are considered, under certain conditions, green.

I reaffirm my support for the version proposed by the European Commission. There are many reasons why gas and nuclear energy should be considered transitional in order to achieve the objectives set by the European Green Pact. One of the reasons, and perhaps the most important one, relates to the realities on the ground in each Member State. France has a significant share of nuclear power, just as Germany is heavily dependent on gas. The decisions that the European Union needs to implement in order to achieve the objectives – already set and agreed by all Member States – need to be balanced first and foremost”, EPP MEP Vasile Blaga told European Way.

“Countries like Romania or Poland need a realistic transition towards the targets set by the Green Pact. Cohesion and solidarity in the European Union means that each Member State must take into account the other and, as a whole, decisions must not ignore any reality, be it further West or further East”, added the EPP MEP.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: “New sanctions package against Russia is a strong sign of EU solidarity with Ukraine”

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MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) welcomes the agreement reached by EU leaders on the latest sanctions package against Russia.

“The progressive embargo agreed yesterday evening by the European Council is a consistent step towards blocking the financing of the war unleashed by the Russian Federation in Ukraine. The sanctions will initially target 75% of imports of crude oil and petroleum products, rising to 90% by the end of the year”, the MEP told caleaeuropeana.ro.

According to the liberal MEP, the Council’s decision puts an end to a fundamentally unacceptable situation – condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine while financing it through hydrocarbon imports into the EU: “This is a necessary step in the attempt to force the Russian Federation to stop the absurd war in Ukraine. Of course, there will be voices saying that the 10% represents hesitation, failure or lack of solidarity. I place them squarely in line with those propagating pro-Russian rhetoric. The European Union also has a degree of heterogeneity, especially in terms of the degree to which economies are dependent on Russian hydrocarbons. In this context, blocking 90% of imports at the end of the year is undoubtedly a victory that I welcome”, said EPP MEP Vasile Blaga.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: The most effective weapon against Russia’s blackmail to turn off the gas tap is EU solidarity

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© Vasile Blaga/Facebook

The cut-off of gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria should be the start of the EU finding solutions to disconnect Europe from the Russian Federation, said MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP).

The MEP stressed that the most effective weapon against Russia’s blackmail to turn off the “gas tap” is EU solidarity.

“A generalised and overnight disconnection of Europe from Russian resources is not realistic, but in the medium and long term it is the only solution. The dependence of large EU economies – such as Germany’s – is a major obstacle to this necessary disconnection, but a united reaction, comparable to that during the pandemic, can provide the solutions to get out of this situation, which is immoral to say the least”, said the liberal MEP for the CaleaEuropeana.ro.

According to the MEP, it is necessary, as a first step, even if only in principle, for all EU Member States to speak “with one voice” on eliminating energy dependence on Russia.

“It is obvious that the European democratic architecture is incompatible with the immoral paradox of financing Russia’s war machine in the context of military aggression against the sovereign state of Ukraine. Then, without delay, we need to take concrete steps that will bring us within a reasonable timeframe closer to this priority objective”, added the EPP MEP.

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