Europe cannot rest on its economic power

Brussels The decisions of the European Council of July 21st send a strong signal internally: Europe is capable of acting and showing solidarity. The EU is standing together in dealing with the crisis triggered by Corona. Europe must now send an equally strong signal to the outside world: The changed global political situation requires a united Europe in the world. The EU must assert and develop its role in an increasingly turbulent world.

Right now, areas of power and influence are shifting in the long term. The wars and crises in Syria, Libya and the challenges on the African continent can only be solved with a Europe that agrees on a common strategy. Europe must not rest on its economic power, but must take on geopolitical responsibility – and that is a priority in its neighborhood and Africa policy.

In the global game of forces, even the large EU member states alone have too little weight. The EU must therefore align its institutions and finances to assert European interests and values ​​in the world. With less than ten percent of the budget currently earmarked for its “external action”, Europe is denying itself this ability to act: A European foreign, security and development partnership with functioning instruments for conflict management cannot be designed from this budget, any more than a community that invested in economic and technological cooperation and international climate protection. The draft of the European Council needs to be improved significantly here.

Peace, prosperity, progress based on the pillars of human rights, global justice and the balance between rich and poor – this can and must become a reality in Europe’s neighborhood and its relations with African countries.

The European Union has the answers to human survival questions: How do we stop climate change? How do we convert our energy supply worldwide to climate-neutral technologies? How will we supply more than nine billion people with energy and food in the near future? How do we reorganize our trade and economic system so that the growing population, especially in Africa, can earn their own living? How can we provide targeted support to countries that are committed to reforms? And how do we finally get rid of a blatant injustice in the world – namely child labor?

Africa must become a green continent

All of these challenges can be solved. However, too many states rely on the principle of “My Nation First”. Unfortunately, the decisive impetus cannot be expected from the USA, China and Russia. Now it depends on Europe. In order to act decisively on foreign and development policy, we must no longer cling to unanimity.

Inside and outside the EU must also apply: “Leave no one behind”. Corona is making people in Africa look into the abyss: the health systems are not up to the pandemic, supply chains are collapsing, food is becoming more and more expensive, millions of people have lost their jobs and many governments are fighting against national bankruptcy – as in Lebanon.

If we stand idly by this spiral of escalation, it will also shake Europe. The EU must therefore expand its aid programs and incorporate crisis reaction mechanisms into the budget structure, which also enable stability in the European neighborhood.

A Europe that is capable of acting in foreign policy does not come for free. In concrete terms, this means that we need funding for an effective Africa and neighborhood strategy in the next multiannual financial framework. This also requires new instruments such as a European Investment and Development Bank. Our fundamental interest is to enable Africa to become an economically self-sustaining continent. Our growth and security also depend on it.

In order to create an “area of ​​prosperity and good neighborliness” within the meaning of Article 8 of the EU Treaty, the Marshall Plan with Africa must therefore be implemented consistently: with common security structures, a migration and climate concept and an investment and innovation offensive Africa is becoming the green continent of renewable energies and can provide food for a dynamically growing population.

This also means that Europe uses the emerging African free trade area to expand trade relations and put them on a fair basis. Because only through a strong Europe that is capable of acting can we and our partners overcome these problems and contribute to prosperity, security and peace in Europe and the world.

More: How Africa is indebted to China in the pandemic

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