At a Glance – Security situation in Mozambique – 12-07-2021

Since 2017, a relatively unknown Islamic group has staged a destabilising insurgency against the Mozambican government forces and the local population in the predominantly Muslim northern province of Cabo Delgado. Off the provincial coast, huge gas extraction projects have been launched in a bid to revitalise the national economy, crippled by external debt. So far, the army has proved relatively ineffective in dealing with the insurgency. The government has asked external partners for support, including in training and logistics.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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Briefing – EU-UK relations: Difficulties in implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol – 09-07-2021

On 3 March 2021, the United Kingdom (UK) Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, announced in a written statement to the UK Parliament, and without consulting the European Union (EU) in advance, that the grace period on border controls on a series of food and live products shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would be extended. This meant that products of animal origin, composite products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plants and plant products could continue being shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland without the official certification, such as health and phytosanitary certificates, required by the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland (the Protocol) of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA). In response to the UK’s decision, the EU launched legal action against the UK for breaching the provisions of the Protocol, as well as the good faith obligation under the WA. According to the Protocol, the UK must establish border controls on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland according to EU law. The application of EU law to Northern Ireland, together with the conduct of border controls within the UK, was designed to prevent the establishment of physical border controls (a ‘hard border’) on the island of Ireland, so as to safeguard the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement which brought peace in Northern Ireland, while preserving the integrity of the EU’s single market. The grace period on border controls was agreed by the EU and the UK in December 2020 as a temporary solution to problems raised by the UK. The UK government has reiterated that it intends to implement the Protocol, but that the border controls are causing trade disruption between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and require time to be resolved. It has also mentioned other issues involving areas as diverse as medicinal supplies and parcel shipments, as well as the complexity of customs systems and implementation of exchange of information between the EU and the UK. On 30 June 2021, the EU and the UK reached an agreement on some solutions, including the extension of the grace period on meat products, conditional on tight controls.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – New EU strategic priorities for the Sahel: Addressing regional challenges through better governance – 09-07-2021

Recent events have shown that the Sahel region remains highly politically unstable. The military takeover of the Chadian government following President Idriss Déby’s sudden death in April 2021 and the repercussions of the August 2020 and May 2021 military coups in Mali are worrying signs of weak democratic governance structures. Burkina Faso’s transitional democracy has also been severely destabilised by the activities of extremist groups and internal conflicts. This political fragility and the lack of government legitimacy have made the responses to the Sahel’s security and humanitarian issues all the more challenging. The continued threat posed by terrorist armed groups and rising intercommunal violence over land and resources have led to both internal and cross-border displacements in Sahel countries. Meanwhile, the inadequacy of governance mechanisms for managing this displacement, compounded by environmental degradation, resource scarcity and population growth, has created a severe humanitarian crisis. Since 2011, the European Union (EU) strategy for the Sahel has focused on both security and development to address these numerous and interconnected challenges. However, EU efforts have remained dominated by a military approach to tackle rising terrorist activity, achieving concrete results but ultimately falling short of long-term regional stability. The new EU integrated strategy in the Sahel aims to strengthen action at the political level, focusing on governance mechanisms, human rights, and collaboration with civil society and local authorities, while maintaining security cooperation with states in the region.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – EU rural development policy: Impact, challenges and outlook – 08-07-2021

On 30 June 2021, the European Commission adopted a communication on its long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas. The communication identifies areas of action with a view to creating new momentum for the EU’s rural areas, while recognising their diversity. In recent decades, in many Member States rural areas have experienced depopulation. Such regions face a range of environmental and socio-economic challenges. These include, for example, lower income per capita, a higher percentage of the population at risk of poverty and social exclusion, a lack of access to basic infrastructure and services, and lower levels of access to fast broadband internet. The EU’s rural development policy has sought to help address these challenges. Evaluation evidence is emerging on the impact of the common agricultural policy (CAP) on the territorial development of the EU’s rural areas. Measures relating to village renewal and LEADER (Liaison entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie rurale) measures are considered to be well-targeted and relevant to local needs, although they represent a small proportion of CAP financing. Administrative burdens have been raised as an issue that can impact on the developmental process. Recommendations from this evaluation evidence point to the need for better integration of funding streams, the need to maintain a dialogue across the European structural funds, and all the implications this may have for the new CAP strategic plans. The Commission’s recommendations to Member States on their CAP strategic plans highlight a number of recurring themes relating to the employment, education and training needs of rural areas, including the need to address rural depopulation, promote generational renewal, improve connectivity, and address the role played by action taken at local level. The Commission’s communication on a long-term vision for rural areas includes provision for a ‘rural pact’ to engage actors at EU, national, rural and local levels and an EU rural action plan, setting out a range of initiatives and actionable projects. The vision and its supporting analyses will provide a framework for addressing the future of the EU’s rural areas.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Fighting discrimination in sport – 09-07-2021

Even though the European Union (EU) has built an extensive framework of legislation, instances of racism and homophobia in sport are still rife. Interestingly, Eurostat surveys reveal that the feeling of discrimination is more widespread than actual discrimination. Although there are some variations, discrimination in sport very frequently involves stigmatisation on the basis of external characteristics such as skin colour, body shape and gender. Data from 2017 show that some 3 % of respondents claimed to have experienced racist violence in the previous year, with another 24 % being exposed to racist harassment in that period. Worryingly, the results of a 2018 poll confirm that the vast majority of respondents (90 %) perceive homo/transphobia to be a problem in sport, with gay men feeling homophobia to be a bigger problem than lesbian/gay women and bisexual people. Action against discrimination at EU level is grounded in an established EU legal framework, based on a number of Treaty provisions – in particular Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union, and Articles 10, 19 and 67(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The general principles of non-discrimination and equality are also reaffirmed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. This legal arsenal is completed by a number of directives and framework decisions – such as the Racial Equality Directive, the Victims’ Rights Directive and the Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia, to name but a few – aimed at increasing individual protection. The objectives of the sports strand of the Erasmus+ programme include combatting violence, discrimination and intolerance in sport and providing funding for various projects such as the setting up of LGBTQI+ sports clubs in central and eastern Europe, increasing inclusion in sport, and by bringing together partners who traditionally face barriers to participation, such as women, the LGBTQI+ community and people with disabilities. In addition, since 2016, the European Commission has supported the Council of Europe in promoting safety and security at sports events. In recent years, the Gay Games and the European Gay and Lesbian Multi-Sports Championships have helped raise awareness, build self-esteem and change perceptions based on prejudice.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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