The cost of Russia’s war in Ukraine –

After being postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the last EU-African Union (AU) summit in Brussels last February was meant to mark the beginning of a new momentum. partnership of equals between two organizations.

But the summit was quickly overshadowed by Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, further straining relations between the two countries. I’EU and I’Africa and its consequences will continue to dominate relations between the two unions in the coming months.

Moreover, it is not planned to hold such a summit in 2023.

In November, at the next meeting between the European Commission and the EU, the two sides agreed that the EU will begin to allocate funds for infrastructure investments. “Global Gateway” strategy, and will support the African Medicines Agency. In addition, two trade unions “summit dialogue on economic integration to strengthen trade ties and sustainable investments “.

These promises indicate lower ambitions. The Global Gateway strategy, the EU’s response to the China initiative ofNew Silk Roads is expected to start paying 750 million euros next year. But that’s a drop in the ocean compared to the tens of billions Beijing is offering.

At the same time, the consequences of the war in Ukraine will continue to affect EU-Africa relations.

African nations bore the brunt of the disruption in imports of key agricultural products such as wheat and cereals and fertilizers. These factors, along with runaway inflation, another effect of the war, have pushed countries such as Ghana, Egypt and Kenya into bailout deals with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in recent months.

Russia’s lobbying activities in Africa are intensifying. Andriy Melnichenko, founder of fertilizer giant Eurochem, is particularly favored by officialsAfrican National CongressWith a view to easing sanctions in South Africa. If the war continues, tensions will worsen in the coming months.

Earlier this week, EU High Representative for External Relations Josep Borrell visited Morocco for his first visit of 2023.

This North African country is one of the most important partners of the EU on the continent, especially in terms of migration, security and trade. However, like many African countries, Morocco has tried to maintain good diplomatic relations with Russia and has refused to condemn its aggression in Ukraine.

The shadow of Russian influence also depends on the EU’s diplomatic and security agenda in the Sahel.

Mr. Borrell, the head of European diplomacy, said last year that the EUHe did not leave the Sahel“but he”reorganized its existence“In the region. However, the announcement that France and Germany are withdrawing troops over the past year and the next twelve months portends difficult months ahead.

Last year, the German government said it would begin a phased withdrawal of troops in mid-2023 until a full withdrawal in May 2024.

Growing anti-French and more broadly anti-Western sentiment in the Sahel region was underscored by the expulsion of French ambassador Luc Hallade by Burkina Faso’s military junta earlier this week, months after neighboring Mali did the same.

The move also comes less than two weeks after the UN humanitarian coordinator in Burkina Faso, Barbara Manzi, was announced.persona non grata.

The military regimes of Mali and Burkina Faso have both strengthened diplomatic ties with Russia, and the influence of the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary organization, continues to grow. Chad, Niger and other countries in the Sahel and neighboring regions are also likely to be targeted by the Kremlin.

The European Union recently announced that the European Commission “thedisinformationRussian in social networks in the Sahel. Brussels officials are also well aware that Moscow wants to expand its presence in the region through the Wagner Group. Whether they can do anything to stop it remains to be seen.

Last autumn, Mr Borrell criticized the EU’s representatives in Africa for failing to build better relations. However, in a speech he gave a few weeks later, he called Europe closed and the outside world “jungleIt was met with some confusion in African capitals.

The EU’s priorities for Africa for next year will remain largely unchanged. The Swedish presidency of the Council promised a renewed dialogue with African leaders on migration, development, trade, security and climate change. A group of member states will also seek to increase gas imports from Algeria and elsewhere.

At the same time, even if the number of illegal migrants from Africa to Spain falls by more than 20% in 2022, the control of migration flows in European capitals will remain an important political issue. The Mediterranean Sea is low.

It will be interesting to see if Hungary’s post-Cotonou agreement covering political and economic relations with the 88 member states of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Organization (ACP) will eventually back down from blocking EU ratification.

Hungarian officials have indeed criticized the Commission for not requiring stricter provisions on the return of migrants in the agreement. It is unclear whether Budapest is using the lock-in in its fight with the EU executive over the release of post-pandemic recovery funds or as a matter of political principle.

It will also be interesting to observe the fallout from the Qatargate scandal, which has already led to criminal proceedings against former or current MEPs who allegedly took bribes from Qatari officials. This scandal should lead to a rewriting of the rules on foreign lobbying in European institutions.

According to some rumors in Brussels, Morocco tried to get preferential treatment from EU officials. Like Qatar, Rabat also denied these rumors.

[Édité par Anne-Sophie Gayet]

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