The Brief – Listen to the South –


It is well established that a handful of countries rule the roost in the world of international summits and diplomacy. The G7, the G20, the OECD and the UN Security Council are dominated by the same group of countries. The Global South is almost entirely excluded, but mostly few notice.

Summits are often a waste of time – a chore for politicians, their staff and journalists who have to sift through the jargon of turgid press releases to find something worth writing about – but during crises they become one of the most critical vehicles for emergency policy making.

The exclusion from major global forums has undeniably left the countries of the South, particularly Africa, with whom the EU now wants to build a “strategic partnership”, with little influence on policy-making.

This has been most evident in the area of ​​trade and tax policy. The G77 of developing countries has repeatedly and unsuccessfully called for decisions on international tax policy to be made by a UN body rather than by the thirty wealthy states, which make up the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) based in Paris.

Likewise, last year’s decision to issue more than $650 billion in special drawing rights from the International Monetary Fund – intended to give states recovering from the economic bruises inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic a little fiscal respite – was taken by wealthy states which, in turn, received the vast majority of SDRs.

That could now change.

African Union Chair Macky Sall, also President of Senegal, has formally requested that the AU be admitted as a permanent member of the G20, or possibly soon of the G21. South Africa is currently the only African member.

Meanwhile, the finance ministers of Egypt, Senegal and Ghana have sent a letter to the G20 formally requesting increased engagement from Africa and a revival of the debt suspension initiative introduced during the pandemic.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is hosting the G20 summit in November, said he would urge other leaders to accept the AU’s request.

The AU is still a relatively weak institution that is not yet significantly stronger than the sum of its parts. Its architects see the European Commission as the model to be replicated both in the creation and implementation of policies.

AU officials point the finger at the EU, whose two main leaders, the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council, both attend G20 summits and say their equivalent leaders should also be permanent guests. It could be the making of AU.

The proposal also has the support of the EU.

In a speech to the AU this week, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, gave his endorsement, adding that “together, Africa and Europe can form an arc of peace, prosperity and cooperation for the 21st century”.

Besides being the right thing to say, EU support is sound diplomacy.

It is not a question of political symbolism. The effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on energy and food supplies and prices are expected to hurt African states more than most, and it makes sense to believe that sound policy is more likely when all parties have a say in how it is shaped.

The roundup

Who will be the new British Prime Minister and how will this affect relations with the EU? Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak has more support among the general public and among Tory MPs, while Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has a narrow lead among Conservative party members.

French lawmakers in the lower house passed an emergency bill tabled by the government providing for 20 billion euros to tackle inflation and the resulting social risks in the early hours of Friday.

Iran is seeking economic guarantees from the United States to reinvigorate a long-stalled 2015 nuclear deal so it “not get stung twice” in the same way, its foreign minister has said.

French network operators could be forced to radically change their fiber optic network deployment practices if a bill tabled by Les Républicains Senator Patrick Chaize becomes law.

Belgium has reached a first agreement with the French group Engie to extend the use of nuclear energy by 10 years after the Russian invasion of Ukraine forced the government to rethink its plans to rely more on the natural gas.

To reduce gas consumption, the German government on Thursday announced an energy security package including mandatory gas-saving measures for businesses and stricter regulations for the level of gas storage tanks.

On the other hand, if spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) were part of all newborn screening programs, many people could avoid irreversible disease progression, according to Marie-Christine Ouillade, a longtime advocate for patients with SMA. .

At the same time, the current digital divide between young and old may offer an opportunity to enable more meaningful interactions and intergenerational cohesion, according to a recently published study.

In an exclusive interview for EURACTIV, Alexandre Ricard, CEO of Pernod Ricard, spoke about the main issues and challenges facing the EU today, from supply chain disruptions to digitalisation and youth unemployment.

Finally, check out the latest edition of the Tech Brief.

Pay attention to…

  • Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides attends the second First Ladies and Gentlemen Summit “Ukraine and the world: the future we (re)build together” on Saturday.
  • Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders opens the ‘EU Global Challenges’ conference in San Sebastian, Spain on Monday.

The views are those of the author.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/Alice Taylor]


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