Together for Europe’s recovery.

akzente follows Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union with facts and opinion, context and analysis.


On 1 July, Germany takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union with the rallying cry ‘Together for Europe’s recovery.’ Germany is assuming the Presidency at a time when the world is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic and all its impacts, from rising infection and death rates, overburdened health systems and social distancing to collapsing economies, a slowdown in global trade, huge debts and growing poverty. The pandemic and global health will have major influences on Germany’s Presidency across all areas, but particularly in development cooperation as it seeks global solutions to a global challenge.

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Focus areas for the German Presidency of the Council

The other focus areas include protecting a rights-based world order, multilateralism and, in particular, the future of Europe’s neighbouring continent, Africa. The European Commission is planning to pass a new Africa strategy this autumn, focusing on investment, access to energy and a green transformation to boost sustainability. It will be organising and chairing discussions in the run-up to agreement of the new strategy.

Digitalisation will also be crucial to Africa. The German Federal Government intends to launch initiatives to encourage innovation in Africa and to bring the continent closer to Europe in terms of technology. Another focus will be the importance of sustainable supply chains, particularly to developing countries. Ultimately, the EU Member States need to take a more concerted approach to development cooperation, and Germany plans a number of initiatives in this area.

GIZ for Europe

GIZ is supporting the German Government in a number of different ways in implementing its priorities during the Presidency. On an ongoing basis, it feeds its expertise into a range of ministries in Germany but also to the European Commission in Brussels, and over the six months of the Presidency it will be running many different specialised events in relevant areas.

As a German federal enterprise, however, GIZ is already working on fulfilling the political principles and international obligations of the EU and of Germany. It works around the world both with and on behalf of the EU in numerous thematic areas and supports it on behalf of the German Government in fields ranging from technical advisory services to practical project implementation. It is active in areas including ‘green’ energy, environmental protection, climate change, economic development and employment, sustainable agriculture, displacement, peace, human rights, and the partnership with Africa. And in future, alongside particular involvement in climate change and energy (the ‘Green Deal’), it will also focus on the increasingly important topic of the circular economy, which the EU is keen to promote both in its own Member States and in partner countries around the world.

EU Facts

GIZ’s business volume with the EU has increased steadily in recent years and has more than doubled to EUR 375 million since 2015.

The EU’s involvement around the world

Another reason the EU is able to make a difference is that it is a major global player: along with its Member States, it provides more than half of all public development financing, making it the largest donor to international development cooperation. The framework within which it does this is, at European level, the 2017 European Consensus on Development, which identifies eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable development in partner countries as its two key objectives. At international level, the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Paris Climate Agreement form the framework for the EU’s commitment.

GIZ uses its decades of experience, its technical expertise and its wide-ranging implementation skills to good effect in EU activities around the world. It is able to implement demanding commissions in the field of international cooperation rapidly and effectively, even under the most challenging conditions. And that is a crucial skill during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

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‘Mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic’

Economist Siegfried Leffler has been Director of the GIZ Representation in Brussels since 2016. He manages GIZ’s cooperation activities with the institutions of the EU, primarily with the European Commission.


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