Germany thirteenth EU Council Presidency ran from July to December 2020.

On 1 July 2020, Germany assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) for a period of six months. Ahead of its EU Council presidency, the German government had announced that it intents to develop Europe further as a force for solidarity, assuming responsibility for international peace and security. In this context, deepening the partnership between Africa and Europe had been identified as a key element.

However, the many “last minute” agreements during the German presidency showed that most European governments largely ignored the interests of countries in the Global South. Neither the design of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 nor the “Next Generation EU” recovery plan, EU climate policy, Africa-EU relations or the Post-Cotonou Agreement were characterised by a high level of solidarity.

The unprecedented corona pandemic increased public awareness of global inequalities, the structural weaknesses of health care and social welfare systems and the vulnerability of socially and otherwise disadvantaged people. VENRO and its African and European partners repeatedly called on the German and other European governments as well as the EU institutions to live up to their promises. But political decision-makers did not manage to promote a deeper Africa-Europe partnership focused on human relationships, dialogue, mutual respect and the well-being of people on both continents.

A detailed analysis can be found in our article “Review of the German EU Presidency: No room for the Global South”.

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VENRO organised a series of events and exchange opportunities before, during and after the German EU Council presidency. All activities were meant to increase the awareness and involvement of civil society actors in EU policy-making with a special focus on the relations between Africa and Europe. Some of the highlights were:

In May and June 2020, the online consultation “Digital Africa Forum” with more than 80 African and European civil society representatives from almost 30 countries produced recommendations for the German EU Council presidency. These joint conclusions were summarised in the position paper “For a fair partnership between Africa and Europe” and handed over to German government representatives during the civil society kick-off event at the end of June.

In September 2020, a two-day workshop and a panel discussion were organised in collaboration with the German Youth Delegates for Sustainable Development to increase youth engagement and the exchange between African and European youth. Around 20 African and ten European youth delegates developed the ten-point plan “Political Demands of African and European Youth to AU and EU Leaders for the African-EU Partnership” and also shared their ideas in ten short video messages. They presented their results during the BMZ Africa-Europe Youth Forum hosted by the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development at the end of September.

In October 2020, the VENRO conference “Civil Society Driving Change: Towards a New Quality of the Africa-Europe Partnership” attracted more than 500 participants from 24 African and 13 European countries. It showed in practical terms that the relations between Africa and Europe are much more than just a formal process between governments and that civil society from both continents can greatly contribute to more a inclusive and transparent cooperation. EU Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen assured participants in her keynote address: “The Africa-Europe Partnership is one of our top priorities and we need you, the civil society, by our side with your knowledge and expertise.”

Other activities included the Africa-Europe Civil Society Survey “We want fair, inclusive and mutually beneficial relations” jointly published by the four EUPP partners; the short film “Smart but fair: Make digitalisation work for all” about chances and challenges of the digital era; and the online conference “Joining forces for climate action – African and European civil society perspectives” bringing together political stakeholders, academia, civil society and media to highlight the need for an ambitious climate policy rooted in solidarity.

VENRO continues to support its EUPP partners during the Portuguese and Slovenian EU presidencies and will produce additional publications, e.g. a policy brief on the Post-Cotonou Agreement and a study about civil society collaboration for equitable migration policies between Africa and Europe.

About us

VENRO is the umbrella organisation of development and humanitarian NGOs in Germany. The association was founded in 1995 and consists of around 140 organisations. Their backgrounds lie in independent and church-related development co-operation, humanitarian aid as well as development education, public relations and advocacy. VENRO’s central goal is to build a just globalisation, with a special emphasis on eradicating global poverty. The members of the organisation are committed to implementing human rights and conserving natural resources.

VENRO represents the interests of development and humanitarian aid NGOs vis-à-vis the German Government; strengthens the role of NGOs and civil society in development co-operation and humanitarian aid; and sharpens public awareness of development co-operation and humanitarian issues in general.

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Review of the German EU Presidency: No room for the Global South

Review of the German EU Presidency: No room for the Global South

Brexit, EU budget, climate protection, migration – even without the Corona pandemic, the German EU Council Presidency 2020 would have been very challenging. It is therefore quite understandable that the German government was unable to meet all the expectations placed...