European Union External Action

Foreign Affairs Council (Development): Press statement by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell

Brussels, 19/11/2021 - 18:36, UNIQUE ID: 211119_12
Statements by the HR/VP

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At our meeting today, I updated Member States on the European Union response to the latest developments in Afghanistan, in Ethiopia and Sudan. And we have discussed the implications that the political situation has on our development assistance.

We also had a fruitful exchange with Administrator of USAID [the United States Agency for International Development], Ms Samantha Power, at the Development Foreign Affairs Council. This was the first time that a US Administrator joined our discussions on development. And our combined global leadership is certainly much needed, today more than ever, to face the challenges of development in the world.

We agreed to work together to end the COVID-19 pandemic everywhere and for everyone. It is clear that we need to build on the Global COVID-⁠19 Summit to ensure that we meet our joint objective of a 70 percent global vaccination rate by [the] United Nations General Assembly next year. This is a very ambitious target. Taking into account that today we are at about 40 percent, with big differences among regions in the world. That is why we need to increase our common support to COVAX to contribute to this goal, to provide vaccines to the world and accelerate global immunisation.

We also addressed the issue of the growing - and shocking - immunisation gap between developed and developing countries. We are still in Africa on 6 percent and in Europe more than 70 percent, to put an example of these big differences. Many promises have been made and it is really time to deliver. That is why we will ask the representative of the Member States of COVAX, together with the co-chair of COVAX, a member of the European Parliament, Ms. [Chrysoula] Zacharopoulou, to increase the efforts, to act as a focal point in order to strengthen coordination among Member States and accelerate efforts, especially in Africa, where we are still lagging on a very small 6 percent.

On the basis of our joint commitment to address the climate crisis through infrastructure development, we discussed the need to identify concrete projects for closer cooperation.

We then discussed with the Ministers the challenges and opportunities related to water management, which is a very much a scare resource in the world. I put the focus on Central Asia, where water scarcity is a geopolitical challenge. It is the source of instability and migratory pressures. It is a threat multiplier and with this, it must be part of our Foreign Policy.

We, the European Union, will be acting united and in partnership with the regions heavily affected by climate change, especially with Central Asia to address the inter-connection of water management, energy and climate change. This is also what we underlined in the conclusions that we adopted on this issue today.

We also discussed the proposed Team Europe Initiative on water, energy and climate in Central Asia. This exchange was timely, ahead of the 17th European Union-Central Asia Ministerial, a meeting that I will chair next week in Dushanbe, in Tajikistan.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-214234