Interview with Maria Groenewald, Director of VOICE

Alain Boinet : You are the new director of VOICE (Voluntary Organisations in Cooperation in Europe – Coordination of Humanitarian NGOs in the European Union) based in Brussels. Thank you for this interview. Could you first introduce VOICE to our readers? 

Maria Groenewald : Hello Alain! First of all, I would like to thank you for this invitation. It is an honor for me to be the new Director of VOICE and to participate as such in this interview.

VOICE is the network of humanitarian organizations in Europe. It has 80 members in 18 European countries. A common value unites us all, that of the respect of humanitarian principles and International Humanitarian Law. The strength of our network lies in the diversity of our members who work in different sectors, with different means, different structures… Together, we represent the main humanitarian interlocutor with the European Union, in particular with DG ECHO.

Alain Boinet : You participated in the first European Humanitarian Forum (EHF) from March 21 to 23 in Brussels. What do you think of this initiative of the French Presidency and the European Commission with DG ECHO, how did this Forum go and what are its concrete responses to the extent of the urgent needs for humanitarian aid?

Maria Groenewald : Firstly, VOICE welcomes the organization of this first European Humanitarian Forum. It was a good opportunity to highlight the importance of humanitarian aid, its principles and its challenges. These moments are important because they allow us to show external actors, especially political ones, that humanitarian aid concerns us all. The events in Ukraine illustrate this. According to the United Nations, more than 274 million people in 2022 will need humanitarian aid. That’s not counting the 15.7 million Ukrainians in need since the beginning of hostilities. It is imperative to talk about this, to have discussions, at the political level, about humanitarian aid and its challenges.

Secondly, many of our members appreciated this moment of face-to-face meeting after two years of covid period. It was a moment of networking between NGOs but also with political actors, the European Commission, DG ECHO… However, the discussions were a bit limited in terms of participation, debates and spontaneous exchanges. The format of the forum should therefore be reviewed to allow for more exchanges. Also, although many important topics were discussed, the choice of topics was not done in a sufficiently participatory manner.

At VOICE, we would like to collaborate more closely with DG ECHO and the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the preparation of the next Forum in order to bring the NGO perspective, to propose a more participatory approach and to lead to concrete commitments from the main actors. We would therefore like to exchange ideas well in advance of the event on the most relevant topics to address in order to really move things forward. Obviously, all topics are important but focusing on certain topics could also be more effective.

Maria Groenewald (left) Director of VOICE, Dominic Crowley (right), President of VOICE, and MEP Barry Andrews (middle), in a meeting on the margins of the European Humanitarian Forum 2022

Alain Boinet : Humanitarian funding is not sufficient to meet the needs identified this year, which concern 300 million people at risk in the world due to a crisis (conflict, disaster, epidemic).  On average, 40% of the funds needed for emergency aid are missing! What was the European Commission’s response to this issue at the EHF and what should we do ourselves?  

Maria Groenewald : This is a major issue, but also one of the most complicated.  It is all the more important when we observe in recent years a continuous increase in the number of people in humanitarian need – a much faster increase than the increase in funding. It is therefore essential to work together to find solutions and exchange innovative ideas.

At the European level, DG ECHO has again increased its budget for humanitarian aid for the year 2022. Furthermore, the issue of broadening the donor base is one of DG ECHO’s priorities, and as such, the topic was also addressed during the forum. It is therefore positive to see that the issue is widely recognized by DG ECHO and that advocacy efforts to broaden the donor base are being implemented. This remains a very difficult task and VOICE would like to see more efforts from the Member States which, in our opinion, have a non-negligible potential to increase humanitarian funding. The capacities of our network, and the presence of our members in the different countries of the EU, could allow us to participate in an effort of argumentation and persuasion.

In parallel, and although the increase of humanitarian funding by donors remains a sine qua non condition to face the growing humanitarian needs, we are engaged at VOICE in a reflection on the modalities of use of these funds. Our Grand Bargain 2.0 working group is addressing this topic, and our VOICE Policy Resolution 2021 has focused on this issue. How can we operate more effectively in humanitarian action? Because the big question is: how can we invest the means at our disposal in the most efficient way? This is also the reason why, for the next forum, we would like to see more discussions inviting NGOs and other actors to think about innovative ideas in the context of the question of the optimal use of limited funding and the impact of humanitarian actions. One example is digitalization.

Alain Boinet : The President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, has declared the European Union to be the largest humanitarian donor in the world. What is DG ECHO’s budget in 2022? 

Maria Groenewald :

The EU budget for humanitarian aid in 2022 is 1.8 billion euros, a figure that has increased since last year. By 2021, the European Commission was the second largest public donor in the world, behind the United States.

VOICE insists every year in its advocacy with the European Union that special attention be paid to the humanitarian budget. We know that every year the humanitarian needs increase. The allocated budget must therefore be coherent and increase as well.

Although the increase of the budget in 2022 is a positive sign, there remains the question of the distribution of these funds between the humanitarian crises and the different parts of the world.

President Emmanuel Macron’s speech at the European Humanitarian Forum in March 2022 @European Union (Yasmina and Djamel Besseghir, 2022)

Alain Boinet : Among the issues on the Forum’s agenda was the development of European humanitarian response capabilities. There was talk of ready to intervene teams, pre-positioned equipment, possible air and land bridges. Does this mean that DG ECHO is planning to become operational or rather that it wishes to develop such capacities with its current partners, as was the case during COVID 19 with the Humanitarian Logistics Network and the air bridge set up to deal with the interruption of air transport at the time? 

Maria Groenewald : Most of our members are NGOs certified with DG ECHO and have been working closely with them for years. This Humanitarian Partnership (formerly the FPA – Framework Partnership Agreement) with ECHO is necessary to have the right to submit a proposal to receive funding for the implementation of a humanitarian project.

VOICE has regular exchanges with ECHO as we also have the task of being the main interlocutor between ECHO and the partner NGOs for all technical and operational issues within the framework of this Humanitarian Partnership. In this respect, we are always open to innovative ideas and approaches in order to work better together and to continue to respond to crises as quickly as possible.

Regarding the humanitarian airlift that you mentioned, it is an idea that originated with French NGOs, including some VOICE member NGOs. We are very excited to see that ECHO continues to use this means of operation which greatly assists our members in solving logistical challenges in a timely manner. However, this ‘European Humanitarian Response Capacity’ has so far a mixed record with VOICE, although it is important to note that this tool is not yet fully developed and deployed. It is therefore necessary to wait a little to know the real impacts of these operations.

According to VOICE, it is not necessary for ECHO to become an operational operator, because the NGOs are the first to respond in the emergency to various crises. Our members, international NGOs and their national partners are experts in this field. However, there are also positive points in this cooperative approach. For example, an increased contribution from DG ECHO for pre-positioning of stocks to reduce logistical challenges once a crisis starts is a positive idea. However, it is important for us to stay in regular contact with ECHO on this issue, to make sure that there is no duplication of existing mechanisms.

European Humanitarian Forum in March 2022 @European Union (Yasmina et Djamel Besseghir, 2022)

Alain Boinet : One of the major issues discussed at the Forum was that of local capacity building. In the final declaration of the Forum, there is mention of a consultation process on this subject. What is the agenda of this consultation and how will VOICE and the partner NGOs participate in it?

Maria Groenewald : Indeed, we were happy to see that the topic of localization was very present during the forum. It is an important topic for most of our members who, as you said, already work closely with their local and national partners.

Moreover, the development of these new guidelines and the consultation process that accompanies it are not a surprise, since they were announced in March 2021, when the Commission’s Communication on humanitarian action was published. We are very pleased that DG ECHO has decided to prioritise this topic through the launch of this consultation, which we hope will be inclusive and transparent.

VOICE has 2 working groups that deal, among other topics, with localization. First, there is the Watch Group, the working group in charge of topics related to the Humanitarian Partnership, and the Grand Bargain 2.0 working group. We are going to participate in this consultation because as you mentioned, there are already working cultures between our members and their local partners, good examples of collaboration that we could build on and learn from. This would allow us to put in place a localization approach supported by DG ECHO. It is also important for us to initiate a cooperative approach between different NGOs, national and international, to work better together. I personally believe that we need each other. Of course, there are still many barriers to implementing equitable partnerships. However, we should not see each other as enemies but as partners who need to find new ways to work better together, in a cooperative manner, building on each other’s expertise. I hope that DG ECHO’s new guidelines on localization will move in this direction.

The Vanderbijl Park refinery of iron and steel giant ISKOR in South Africa. Farmland bordering the industrial area. 2007. Photo : © John Hogg/Banque mondiale (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Alain Boinet : Climate change and its consequences for populations in crisis situations is a major concern for humanitarian actors. Several reference documents have recently been published on this subject. But what initiatives and measures are planned to respond to the consequences of climate change in the field?  

Maria Groenewald : Climate change and resilience in humanitarian aid was the 2nd most common topic, along with localization, in the forum discussions. Moreover, this major topic, beyond the humanitarian sector, is, compared to other topics, a little less difficult to address with a donor such as ECHO, as there is a consensus on the gravity and urgency of the situation. Indeed, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons due to climate change is alarming, not to mention the frightening forecasts for the years to come. Moreover, 11 French NGOs, including several members of VOICE, issued a statement after the forum in reaction to the launch of the Donors’ Statement on Climate and Environment. We mentioned their statement in our own post-forum statement, as we particularly support their demands: additional funding to address these challenges is imperative. We must continue to discuss this issue, especially in the context of the next forums, which must result in clear commitments from the Member States and the European Commission. The unanimous recognition that we cannot ignore the climate emergency any longer is good news, but it is only a first step, the next one being to discuss the financial means.

Finally, it is necessary to clarify that while we are ready to do our part, as international NGOs, with the support of humanitarian donors, we are not the solution to this climate crisis. I don’t think that is what is expected of us. However, the climate issue is at the heart of VOICE’s advocacy strategy with the European Commission because each euro invested in anticipation actions is 1 euro that will not be spent later on humanitarian aid. VOICE also hopes that DG ECHO will continue to be more committed to supporting these anticipatory actions, with additional financial means, without impacting on the other lines of the humanitarian budget.

Alain Boinet : Among the recommendations of this document published by the 11 NGOs you mentioned, it is stated that “we invite the European Commission to set up an accountability mechanism through annual public reporting for which the European Humanitarian Forum could be the venue.  What do you think of this proposal? 

Maria Groenewald : We fully agree with this proposal. This mechanism seems to me to be necessary because by improving transparency, it will influence decisions on the distribution of funding. In theory, all the figures are available online. But in reality, it is not easy to understand the current state of DG ECHO humanitarian funding and the source of this funding. There is also a lack of information on the logic behind the distribution of the amounts. Why this amount for the Sahel, this amount for Asia or this amount for Latin America?

This discussion is all the more relevant in the context of the crisis in Ukraine, where significant amounts have been mobilized. We welcome the deployment of financial aid from the European Union and DG ECHO for the crisis in Ukraine, but this should not reduce the budgets for other humanitarian crises, including long-term crises, which are sometimes forgotten.

So every effort towards more transparency is an effort that VOICE welcomes, in particular to hold donors accountable. We must ensure that the interests of the people receiving humanitarian aid are at the heart of all decisions.

Alain Boinet : The war in Ukraine and its dramatic consequences for the population, the reception of numerous refugees in neighboring countries, the consequences on food security in many countries, particularly in the Near and Middle East and in Africa, leads to an exceptional international humanitarian mobilization. But the budgets have already been voted while Ukraine must be helped while not abandoning anyone in the other ongoing crises. How to act with the European Commission and other donors in order not to forget anyone? What can and must VOICE and its partners do for this?  

Maria Groenewald : This is obviously a complex issue, but it is a crucial one. The crisis in Ukraine has clearly shown that the European Union and DG ECHO are actors that can react quickly and mobilize the additional funding needed to deal with a crisis that few people had anticipated even 3-4 months ago. We would like to see this speed of action and financial commitment applied to other current and future crises.

Delivery of aid by cargo plane from France to Moldova, coordinated by the EU’s civil protection mechanism. © Union européenne, 2022 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Of course, the impacts of this crisis extend far beyond Ukraine. It is also affecting neighboring countries that are hosting refugees, and rising prices are particularly threatening food security in other parts of the world. VOICE plays a role in influencing the agenda at the political level, including on this last point. For example, the topic of the relationship between hunger and conflict was not on the initial agenda of the European Humanitarian Forum 2022. After a meeting between our members and the Deputy Director of DG ECHO, Michael Köhler, in November 2021 where we pointed out the absence of the topic, the organizers of the Forum – DG ECHO and the French Presidency of the EU Council – agreed to add the topic “Hunger & Conflict” to the agenda. In the meantime, the conflict in Ukraine has broken out, and it has become even more topical to discuss this topic during the Forum.

So yes indeed, we are the main interlocutor between certified NGOs and ECHO to discuss all the technical issues but the biggest part of our work is to ensure a space for the most important topics at the heart of the debates here in Brussels with DG ECHO and the member states and to influence the way they are discussed. Promoting humanitarian aid and engaging more member states are also part of our objectives. This new crisis in Ukraine and its global effects shows that humanitarian aid is not something that only concerns a small group trying to help people in need. No, it is something that concerns everyone, and in particular all Member States.

Finally, about the issues around International Humanitarian Law, which is sometimes questioned a little bit, I think we have to use every possible opportunity to explain systematically what International Humanitarian Law is and why it has to be respected, in any crisis, war or confrontation, because the implementation of humanitarian aid is based on and depends on this law. It is also important to understand that it is not a question of solidarity. Everyone feels solidarity with Ukraine for good reasons. But respect for IHL goes beyond that, our NGOs are obliged to follow the principles of humanitarian aid to ensure that this aid reaches the people in need. That is the ultimate goal of our action, the rest is politics. As you said earlier, we are not political actors but humanitarian actors and everyone has to play their role.

Alain Boinet : How would you like to conclude this interview? 

Maria Groenewald : There are 3 important points for me. First of all, we at VOICE are ready to continue the dialogue with DG ECHO and the Member States on all the topics we discussed during the forum because they are major topics, but also to allow for continuity and follow-up of the statements made at the forum. We need to make sure that the discussions turn into actions on key topics such as localization, the search for alternative donors, the issue of climate finance, more cooperation for more efficiency… We need to maintain the link between the 2022 and 2023 forum and start the next forum by discussing our progress on the different topics.

Secondly, it is essential to continue, together, the promotion of the respect of International Humanitarian Law and humanitarian principles. The recent events in Ukraine have clearly shown that these principles are being called into question, which puts our colleagues working in the field at risk.

Finally, the question of European Union sanctions and anti-terrorist measures is a major issue. We do not question the necessity of such measures but they must not prevent humanitarian organizations from implementing their actions in a rapid and efficient manner.

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Who is Maria Groenewald ? 

With over 15 years of experience in the NGO sector, Maria Groenewald has developed strong advocacy and project management skills in both the humanitarian and development fields. After studying political science, communication science and sociology in Germany and France, Maria started her career working for Johanniter International Assistance, where she gained extensive field experience in Africa. Maria then joined Plan International Germany, where she held various positions for more than ten years, including Head of Humanitarian and Development Programs in Asia. In the four years prior to joining VOICE, Maria was based in Brussels as Senior Resource Mobilization Manager at Plan International Germany with a focus on funding and relations with DG ECHO and DG DEVCO (now DG INTPA).

Specialized in humanitarian and development programming, nexus, activity development, resource mobilization, programming related to children’s rights, humanitarian partnership (in particular with DG ECHO) and the Grand Bargain, Maria joined the VOICE secretariat team in February 2021 as Program Coordinator. She became Acting Director in July 2021, before being appointed as the new VOICE Director in November 2021.

To go further :

Interview video : 

African Union – European Union Summit, what are the results ?

Exclusive interview with Alain Le Roy who prepared and followed this summit.

From left to right: Muhammadu BUHARI (President of Nigeria, Nigeria), Ursula VON DER LEYEN (President of the European Commission, EUROPEAN COMMISSION), Abdel Fattah EL-SISI (President of Egypt, Egypt), Cyril RAMAPHOSA (South Africa), Charles MICHEL (President of the European Council, EUROPEAN COUNCIL), Emmanuel MACRON (President of France, France), Macky SALL (President of Senegal, Senegal), Kaïs SAÏED (Tunisia) at the 2022 AU-EU Summit @European Union

Alain Boinet : You prepared the 6th African Union-European Union Summit that was just held in Brussels on February 17 and 18 under the chairmanship of Mr. Macky Sall and Charles Michel. How is this a “renewed partnership rich in promise” when the previous Summit in Abidjan in 2017 left mixed memories ?

Alain Le Roy : Indeed, at the end of the Abidjan summit in 2017, there was supposed to be an action plan that was not adopted, which led to some frustration. This is why it was essential to hold a new summit with concrete, precise and measurable commitments. Normally, this Africa-Europe summit is held every three years, but because of COVID, it had to wait until 2022 to be held. France insisted that it be held during its presidency of the Council of the European Union.

This time, particular attention was paid to the results of the summit and also to the form. The objective was to achieve a short and readable political declaration and to avoid the long litany of 80 heads of state and government speaking one after the other. Discussions were thus organized around seven round tables for in-depth debate between heads of state and experts on the following themes: financing growth / infrastructure, energy, transport, digital / peace, security and governance / vaccines and health systems / agriculture and sustainable development / education, vocational training, migration / support for the private sector and economic integration.

150 billion to finance investments in Africa by 2027, and a list of concrete and well identified projects in the different areas.

The feedback was very positive from most of the African and European Heads of State present, who declared themselves very satisfied with the concrete results of the summit and the strengthening of the partnership between Africa and Europe. The final press conference, in addition to welcoming the efforts and commitments of this summit, was also an opportunity to recall that Europe is by far the first partner of Africa, whether in terms of investment, trade or official development assistance. And that it intends to remain so.

Alain Boinet : How do the partnership and development policies of the 27 member states of the European Union, such as France, relate to the decisions taken at this Summit ?

Alain Le Roy : Each EU member state has of course its own development aid policy. The only completely communitarized policy of the European Union is the trade policy. On the other hand, all other areas, and in particular development aid policy and foreign policy, are not communitized, they are, as they say in Brussels, intergovernmental. Each country keeps its own policy.

The European Commission proposes the distribution of funds approved in the framework of the European budget and for support to Africa this is mainly done through a new instrument, the NDICI. This distribution is examined by different working groups in which the Member States are represented.

This year it was decided to make Europe’s effort more visible by aggregating as much as possible per project the EU commitments (NDICI funds for example) with the commitments of the Member States and their development agencies, as well as with the commitments of the EIB (European Investment Bank). This is called the Team Europe approach.

Alain Boinet : What concrete measures have been taken to address the health, economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa ? 

Launch of the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in Benin @Présidence de la République du Bénin (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Alain Le Roy : In this pandemic context, two aspects must be taken into account, first the direct health consequences of the pandemic but also the economic consequences. To best respond to the health needs in Africa, providing vaccines to the continent was obviously the priority. Despite a certain delay at the beginning of the pandemic, Europe remains the only continent that has never limited its vaccine exports and the one that has already supplied Africa with more than 150 million vaccines. The goal is to reach 450 million vaccines delivered to Africa by the end of June 2022 in addition to those provided by the COVAX mechanism, which the EU has financed to the tune of 3 billion dollars. Much has been said about Chinese vaccines, but so far China has only provided Africa with 35 million vaccines, far less than Europe.

The summit also focused on helping to increase the rate of vaccination in Africa. Indeed, despite these donations of vaccines, the average vaccination rate in Africa remains below 13% compared to 70% in Europe. This low figure can be explained by insufficient vaccination campaigns, personal anti-vaccination reluctance, blockages due to lack of equipment (not enough syringes for example) or lack of primary care services. Team Europe has therefore planned a package of measures to strengthen African health systems, including 425 million euros to accelerate the pace of vaccination.

Finally, during the summit, commitments were made to help Africa rapidly produce its own vaccines, particularly in South Africa, Rwanda and Senegal. A specific sequence focused on the production of messenger RNA vaccines. Six countries will be supported in the production of these vaccines: Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.

As for the economic consequences of the health crisis, this aspect was already addressed during the Summit on the financing of African economies on May 18, 2021 in Paris, with in particular the allocation by the IMF of 650 billion dollars of SDR* for the whole world, including 33 billion dollars directly for Africa. In addition, the G20 countries have set a target of reallocating up to $100 billion of their own SDRs, mainly to Africa. The summit noted that progress toward this goal is well underway, with over $55 billion in firm commitments, including $13 billion from the leading European countries.

*Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), also in the singular, are an international monetary instrument created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement the existing official reserves of member countries.

Alain Boinet : It seems that there are technical problems that hinder this reallocation

Alain Le Roy : There are no serious technical problems with reallocation through IMF trusts.

The first way that works is for developed countries to lend their SDRs through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT), which is an existing IMF trust. Countries lend to the IMF, which then lends directly to African states. This first trust is expected to approach $30 billion.

The second way is to use the Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST), a trust that is being created and whose idea was born at the May 18 summit. It will be operational in September/October. The RST could reach 50 or 60 billion dollars, mainly for Africa, but not exclusively. Indeed, this trust is intended for vulnerable LDCs and MICs (middle-income countries), the majority of which are African countries.

The difficulty is to put in place a third way that would allow the reallocation of these SDRs directly to the benefit of African development banks, which would create a real leverage effect. For the moment, the European Central Bank considers it impossible to lend the SDRs of the euro zone countries outside the IMF trusts. It is therefore a subject on which our experts at the Treasury Department are working to find a solution.

Alain Boinet : This summit mentions a vast development plan with an investment package of 150 billion dollars. What is it about and what are the priorities of this plan ?  

Alain Le Roy : Indeed, this summit was the occasion to launch an EU investment plan in Africa of at least 150 billion euros over 5 years. As part of the EU’s Global Gateway project, this plan will have a leverage effect on private investment, which should multiply its real impact by about 3.

This plan covers many areas already identified by the African Union’s Agenda 2063, including

. health, with particular support for health systems and vaccine production in Africa,

. education, with support for teacher training and the strengthening or creation of vocational training centers adapted to local labor markets

. infrastructure, by strengthening procedures across the board to increase transparency and sustainability of projects

. energy, with numerous electricity interconnection projects and “fair” energy partnerships to support countries in their energy transition, taking into account their immense needs to increase access to electricity,

Ain Beni Mathar integrated combined cycle thermo-solar power plant in Morocco. Photo: Dana Smillie / World Bank (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) 

. transport, with a list of road, rail and port infrastructure projects, often of regional interest and with a rapid start-up,

. digital access, including the start of the feasibility study for the Europe-Africa submarine cable, the development of training hubs and the strengthening of satellite access

. support for the private sector, particularly the African start-up sector and young entrepreneurs, through specific funds. As well as support for the establishment of the African Free Trade Area to contribute to the economic integration of the continent.

In each area, specific and concrete projects have been selected, in agreement between the EU and the AU.

Alain Boinet : The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2015-2030) are not mentioned anywhere in the final declaration of this Summit.

Alain Le Roy : The SDGs may not have been explicitly cited in the final declaration, but it is clear that the entire project is in line with the SDGs. The 150 billion package explicitly serves the common ambition for the 2030 agenda, which is precisely a reference to the UN’s SDG agenda. This is one of the points on which Europe is working very seriously to ensure that investments are sustainable and that their impact on the environment is measured each time.

Alain Boinet : Among the topics officially addressed during the Summit on Peace, Security and Governance, there is practically nothing in the final declaration, notably on the Sahel and the Barkhane and Takuba operations. The same is true for humanitarian aid, which is a priority in many African countries. Is this an oversight ?

Visit of Mr. El-Ghassim Wane, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Head of MINUSMA to the Togolese contingent of MINUSMA @MINUSMA/Harandane Dicko (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Alain Le Roy : A round table specifically devoted to peace and security issues was organized during the Summit, which gave rise to very dense and rich discussions.

The principles of our strengthened cooperation on peace and security were specified in point 5 of the final declaration of the summit. This concerns, among other things, support for the training of African security forces and support for African operations (in Somalia, for the G5 Sahel, etc.). We also hope that the EU will be able, as soon as the new European Peace Facility is operational, to support African operations contributing to the stability of the continent or to the fight against terrorism, such as the current operation in Rwanda to fight terrorism in Mozambique, at the request of that country.

The declaration also recalls the essential nature of the commitment of all to respect international humanitarian law.

The issue of the Sahel and the future of Barkhane was the subject of a specific Euro-African meeting in Paris the day before the summit.

Alain Boinet : Will there be an effective monitoring mechanism? There has even been talk of civil society having a say in the implementation of the programs. Some are skeptical, are they right to be concerned ?

Alain Le Roy : The Summit was very clear, there will be a precise follow-up of the commitments made. The European Commission will be fully transparent on the commitments made, through a website that will give details of these commitments and the status of implementation of the projects decided. There will also be a monitoring committee that will report to the annual EU-AU ministerial meeting. This website will be accessible to all and in particular to all associations and foundations interested in Africa and will serve as a spur to ensure the effective implementation of the commitments made during the summit.

Alain Boinet : How would you like to conclude on this African Union-European Union summit, of which we have not been able to address all aspects, as they are so numerous.

Alain Le Roy : We had some concerns because the Abidjan summit had generated frustrations and since 2017, there had been no other summit. In addition, the COVID aspect and the situation in Ukraine added a factor of uncertainty to the holding of the summit.

But in the end, the summit was held on the scheduled dates, in person, and with an exceptional participation! 100% of the European Heads of State or Government were present. As well as nearly 90% of the invited African heads of state. In total, nearly 80 Heads of State, and many high-level experts, were thus present at the summit. On the African side, as well as on the European side, all declared themselves satisfied with the results of the summit, even if the agreement on intellectual property concerning the production of vaccines has not yet been reached. Unfortunately, the crisis in Ukraine reduced the visibility of the summit results in the media.

A lot was done in terms of commitments on specific and concrete projects, taking into account the African priorities, the 2030 Agenda of the SDGs and the 2063 Agenda of the African Union.

I think we have succeeded, despite divergent interests, in getting all European countries interested in Africa. The rate of participation and the significant amounts mobilized are proof of this. This mobilization of the whole of Europe in favor of Africa, and not only countries like France, Spain, Italy or Portugal, is a real success that brings many hopes.

The situation in Africa will certainly not change radically overnight, but this general mobilization was essential to progress in the economic recovery of Africa and in strengthening the Africa-Europe link. We are now counting on civil society for its mobilization and its role as a spur in the follow-up of the many commitments made.

For further information, please find below the text of the final declaration and more specific official notes. 

To go further :

Interview with Alain Le Roy on the summit on financing African economies : Interview with Alain Le Roy on the summit on financing African economies – Défis Humanitaires (defishumanitaires.com)

Final official statement : final-declaration-fr.pdf (europa.eu)

Details on the SUEUA : https://www.consilium.europa.eu/fr/meetings/international-summit/2022/02/17-18/

Announcement of the first beneficiaries of the technology transfer center for RNA-Messenger vaccines : https://www.elysee.fr/emmanuel-macron/2022/02/18/annonce-des-premiers-beneficiaires-du-centre-de-transfert-de-technologie-pour-les-vaccins-a-arn-messager

Joint statement on combating the terrorist threat : https://www.elysee.fr/emmanuel-macron/2022/02/17/declaration-conjointe-sur-la-lutte-contre-la-menace-terroriste

Partnerships for a just energy transition in Africa : https://www.elysee.fr/emmanuel-macron/2022/02/18/partenariats-pour-une-transition-energetique-juste-en-afrique

EU – AU Summit: widening the scope of plant proteins in Africa : https://www.elysee.fr/emmanuel-macron/2022/02/18/sommet-ue-ua-elargir-le-champ-des-proteines-vegetales-en-afrique

Reminder : 

Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), also in the singular, are an international monetary instrument created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement the existing official reserves of member countries.


Who is Alain Le Roy ?

Alain Le Roy is Ambassador of France and Honorary Senior Advisor to the Court of Auditors. He has been Ambassador of France to Madagascar and Italy, as well as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, in charge of peacekeeping operations, and Secretary General of the European External Action Service.