Ursula von der Leyen says vaccination is the answer to Omicron
The EU hosted more than 40 African leaders in Brussels on Thursday in a bid to reassert its influence on a continent where China and Russia have made large investments and where many have felt let down by the rollout of European vaccines against the virus. COVID-19.
The European Union will offer several support packages at the summit to boost health, education and stability in Africa, and will pledge half of a new €300 billion investment drive launched to rival the EU. China’s Belt and Road initiative.
But the EU-AU summit did not go as well as Brussels had hoped.
The bloc has been criticized by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari for the “unfair” trade deals it has struck with African countries and its unsustainable approach to migration.
Writing for Politico, the Nigerian leader said the bloc had failed to find a solution to the massive migration from the African continent to Europe.
He wrote: “By 2050, Africa’s population of 1.3 billion is expected to double, representing a quarter of the world’s total.
“My country, Nigeria, is set to double its population to 400 million by then, overtaking the United States to become the third largest nation in the world.
“That means a huge youth market on Europe’s doorstep and – with increased trade – a growing middle class with money to spend.”
EU News: Brussels has been lambasted for inadequate trade deals with Africa
He continued: “However, despite the growing possibility, irregular migration north from my continent is draining Africa’s talent pool, while provoking political crises in the EU. Despite its best efforts, Europe will not find a lasting remedy to this problem by further strengthening its Fortress Europe approach.
“Instead, more opportunities must be created for Africans at home, providing alternatives to the decision to take a life-threatening boat trip in order to seek them elsewhere.
“The relationship between the EU and Africa needs to be rebalanced to stimulate job creation. Unfortunately, the current arrangements do the exact opposite.”
He also said the bloc had been unable to come up with the right trade deals with the “fastest growing continent in the world”.
He added: “Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) give Europe greater access to African markets.
“At the bottom of the value chain, these free trade agreements ensure that EU agricultural subsidies deal a further blow to African farmers, as artificially devalued products flood the market, undermining domestic competitors.
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“For example, European milk surpluses generated by subsidies are ground into powder and sent to Africa, decimating its dairy industry.
“It’s a similar story when it comes to wheat and poultry production. Despite having the most underutilized arable land in the world, Africa remains a net food importer.
“Meanwhile, more than half of Africans work in agriculture, a sector in which sustained improvements offer the fastest route to poverty reduction across the continent.”
He added that the bloc is also failing to improve the way it interacts with the African continent when it comes to free trade agreements.
He said: “It’s not just about rewriting the agreements. We also need to change the way we interact. In 2019, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) entered into force. It has created the largest free trade market in the world, and over time it will gradually eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers between nations on the continent.
“A legacy of colonial extraction, trade on the continent currently languishes at 17%, compared to 68% for Europe. In fact, Africa trades more with Europe than with itself. savings.”
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At the summit, European and other wealthy nations were also heavily criticized for hoarding protective equipment and later vaccines during the pandemic, with some African leaders saying the slow pace of donations could lead to ‘vaccine apartheid’. .
At the beginning of February, only 11% of Africans were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, far fewer than in the richest regions of the world.
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has challenged Europeans to remember that there are ‘human beings on the other side’ in Africa who have been left behind in the unequal global response to COVID -19, adding that this has security implications.
Europe has also been appalled by travel bans to South Africa after the Omicron variant was detected late last year.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has said he and other African leaders will raise the issue of intellectual property rights for COVID vaccines and treatments. Many developing countries want these rights removed, but face opposition from wealthy countries, including many EU countries.