Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More groundhog days

One of the items in the Presidential Conclusions of this June’s European Council, under the heading of External Relations, talks of the EU – Africa relationship. This is the sort of item that is likely to be produced as part of the common foreign policy, which is not based on common interests, there not being any, but on supposedly common values. Whether these values are common to anyone in the rest of the world or even, for that matter, European countries and peoples, remains irrelevant.

So, instead of letting individual countries work out their relationship with individual African countries (except for France, which persists in behaving as a colonial power) the EU has put together a framework policy for dealings with the African Union (AU).
49. The second EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon in December 2007 will provide an important opportunity to enhance the relationship between the EU and Africa and to build an ambitious and strategic new partnership.

50. Recalling its conclusions of June 2005, the European Council underlines the importance it attaches to the further close cooperation with the African Union to ensure that a Joint EU-Africa strategy can be adopted by December 2007. The European Council reaffirms the commitment to continue support for the African Union, with a view, inter alia, to strengthening the African Union's capacity in conflict management, resolution and prevention. The European Council welcomes the intention to establish an Africa-EU energy partnership at the EU-Africa Summit.

51. The European Council stresses the need for new arrangements allowing early release of EU funds to support AU rapid deployment, which should be addressed as a priority. The Council reaffirms the commitments undertaken in the EU Strategy "The EU and Africa: Towards a Strategic Partnership" and encourages Member States to make all efforts to reach the targets set therein.
We have already written about the forthcoming Summit to which President Mugabe of Zimbabwe will be invited because other African leaders refuse to attend if he is not.

Let us have a look at items 2 and 3, which mean mostly that the EU will hand over more of our money to the African Union in the vain hope that it will improve its hitherto non-existent “capacity in conflict management, resolution and prevention”. Well, as Alice was told at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, you can always have more than none.

Even so, if we are about to give more money, ought we not find out what happened to the previous amount? Apparently, there is an effort to do so and the results are lamentable.

Yesterday’s Washington Post reported:
European funds designated for the African Union mission in Darfur have not reached the undermanned and underequipped military force for months, leaving soldiers there without pay, officials said Tuesday.

The African Union acknowledged the problem, but said the European Union requires cumbersome accounting impossible in a remote and violent region the size of France.
This may well be true, though as the money comes from the European taxpayer, there ought to be some kind of an accounting procedure. Clearly that idea has not been discussed in all those EU - Africa meetings. Incidentally, have we had any accounts of the large amounts of money that has been handed over to Sudan in general and, in particular, for the purposes of helping the people of Darfur?

Even the amounts that have gone to the AU are not exactly chicken-feed:
The European Commission has earmarked $384 million for the African Union since November 2004, and further funds have been provided by the individual EU states, for a total of more than $544 million. The European Union is investigating why its money has not been paid to AU soldiers, officials said Tuesday.
One assumes that the money is not simply lying around. Where it has gone to might be a good subject for EU investigation but since the group is led by the egregious Spanish MEP Josep Borrell, that question is unlikely to be asked.

The AU is blaming the EU’s convoluted accounting system and the EU is implying that the AU has been, at best, lackadaisical. In the meantime, the soldiers, who have not been able to impose order in Darfur in any case, remain unpaid. History is full of interesting tales of what happens to the civilians around them when soldiers are not paid.


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