12 months after the announcement of the ambitious EU External Investment Plan, President Junker in his State of the Union Address 2017 called upon all Member States to show solidarity by increasing their aid commitment to Africa. When speaking about the pressures several Member States are experiencing under the growing number of migrants coming from Africa, the President highlighted the role of different financial instruments that the EU has put in place to manage the migration flows.
One of these instrument is the Trust fund for Africa with a budget of 2.9 BEUR directed towards addressing the root causes of migration in Africa. The major bulk of the budget for the Trust Fund is coming from the EU budget, while the Member States contribution amounts to 230 MEUR.
As of 11 September 2017, 117 programmes worth 1.9 BEUR have been approved divided as follows: Sahel/Lake Chad: EUR 1,001.8 million, Horn of Africa: EUR 665 million, and North of Africa: EUR 264.7 million. Of the total amount approved, EUR 1247.8 million has been contracted to implementing partners.
The programmes approved consist of:
- Economic programmes that create employment opportunities, especially for young people, women and returnees, with a focus on vocational training and micro and small enterprises.
- Projects supporting basic services for local populations such as food and nutrition security, health, education and social protection, as well as environmental sustainability.
- Projects improving migration governance and management, including addressing the drivers of irregular migration, effective return, readmission and reintegration, international protection and asylum, legal migration and mobility, and enhancing synergies between migration and development.
- Supporting improvements in overall governance, in particular by promoting conflict prevention, addressing human rights abuses and enforcing the rule of law. Some actions may also contribute to preventing and countering radicalisation and extremism.
In addition to the Trust Fund the EU Commission – as already announced in the SOTEU 2016 – will finalise the preparation of the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) by September – which is quite remarkable for EU legislation-process standards. The EFSD is the financial instrument of the External Investment Plan and it will be operational with the publication of the EFSD Regulation and the launch of the first call for proposals shortly after. The EFSD will have five investment windows: 1. energy/environment, 2. Digital, 3. access to finance, 4. SME’s and 5.sustainable/smart cities.
The Plan will encourage private investors to contribute to sustainable development in countries outside of Europe. The EFSD will be the financing mechanism used to support investments by public financial institutions and the private sector. With a contribution of 4.1 BEUR from the European Commission, the External Investment Plan is expected to leverage more than 44 BEUR of investments by 2020. To enhance the firepower and the efficiency of the new Fund, the Commission wants EU Member States and other partners to contribute.
A flagship event which will determine key aspects on the relations between the EU and Africa will be the 5th African Union – European Union Summit, due to take place in Ivory Coast on 29/30 November.