EU Policy Takes Aim at African Unemployment

Migrant movement and the increasing number of refugees coming to European shores is a very real and serious issue for the EU. To stem the tide, so to speak, it has implemented many different solutions to this problem.

Bulgarian border fences are now numerous, a plethora of foreign aid going to Turkey and even additional naval personnel to patrol the Aegean have all been introduced. Now, with the help of the private sector, the EU will attempt to stop migrant from moving before they even have the chance.

One year ago, in the fall of 2016, the European Commission announced their plan to invest heavily in Africa with the aim to stop the unemployment crisis, or at least help it. Currently some 35 million Africans cannot find employment, and some think the figure could continue to rise along with the general population.

Now, in the fall of 2017, leaders from Europe and Africa will come together in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to discuss exactly how to spend the money. The Africa-EU Summit will focus on jobs, with the cornerstone being the new investment plan, sponsored by the Commission.

Likened to the Marshall Plan, the ‘Juncker Plan‘, taking the name of Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, already has some funding. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has pledged €2.6 billion to the cause.

However, despite the hopeful goals, the plan requires a much larger investment to succeed, something which the Commission wants the private sector to be involved in. According to Werner Hoyner, EIB President, when speaking to the International Center for Migration Policy Development, the plan is short ‘€2.3 trillion’ from its goal.

Commission officials, on the other hand, hold out hope. The thought is that a €3.35 billion cash injection from the External Investment Plan can be leveraged into fifteen times that from the private sector, or about €88 billion.

Private businesses have not yet bought into this ‘Juncker Plan’, although there is at least some incentive there. Less than 10% of rural sub-Saharan Africa has access to electricity, meaning infrastructure investment could prove profitable.

The lack of access to clean water for many people is also thought to be a potentially lucrative project.

The Commission hopes to have its plan off the ground by the end of 2018. The sheer dearth of funding casts doubt on this timeline, although if big-business steps in, the ‘Juncker Plan’ could be a hit.

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