: Europe and GIZ in the year of Germany’s EU Council Presidency

Germany is assuming the Presidency of the EU Council during the COVID-19 pandemic. GIZ is supporting the implementation.

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Europe and GIZ in the year of Germany’s EU Council Presidency

The EU has become extremely important for GIZ’s work in recent years. In July 2020, Germany will be assuming the Presidency of the Council of the EU for six months. GIZ is supporting the German Government with implementation. Overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic will play a major role.

More than half of the funding invested in development cooperation worldwide comes from the European Union (EU) and its member states. The EU also plays a crucial role in creating policy frameworks and facilitating exchange between experts, for example through committees and conferences. This is also reflected in the work of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. One in six projects funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is now cofinanced by the EU. This makes the EU GIZ’s largest provider of third-party funding and the second largest donor overall.

GIZ is supporting the German Government during its EU Council Presidency

In July 2020, Germany will be assuming the Presidency of the Council of the EU for six months. This will involve a wide range of tasks, such as organising and chairing the majority of the Council meetings, brokering consensus and representing the EU member states in dealings with other EU institutions. Alongside the European Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the President of the European Council, it represents the EU on the international stage. As holder of the Council Presidency, Germany will also advance key topics on the EU agenda. These include overcoming the impacts of COVID-19, rebuilding the economy and addressing climate change mitigation, digitalisation and Europe’s role in the world. Corporate due diligence in supply chains and children’s rights are also on the list.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has already referred to it as the ‘coronavirus presidency’. GIZ is supporting the German Government during its Presidency, for example by providing technical advisory services to BMZ and by planning and holding events on behalf of BMZ, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Health. For the latter, GIZ is organising the Informal Meeting of Health Ministers on 16 July 2020, which will take place via video link due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Expectations were high regarding the German Council Presidency to start with, and are even higher now,’ remarked Siegfried Leffler, Director of GIZ’s Brussels Representation. ‘Sustainability remains relevant; climate change will not go away. And digitalisation has actually become more important as a result of COVID-19,’ he explained, adding that the impacts of the pandemic in Africa needed to be mitigated too.

Worldwide collaboration between GIZ and the EU

When it comes to putting European development cooperation into practice, GIZ can already boast a wide-ranging portfolio. The company is using EU funds to implement projects in a wide variety of areas across the globe. In West Africa, for example, GIZ is cooperating with local partners on behalf of BMZ and with cofinancing from the EU to develop a digital hospital monitoring system. Known as SORMAS – Surveillance, Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System – it has already been in place for several years to monitor infectious diseases in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak in 2014 in particular demonstrated the importance of a rapid and reliable tool to record cases of infection.

The system has now been expanded to record and document cases of COVID-19 too. GIZ provided support in extending SORMAS in Nigeria, and the program’s source code has been published to make it easier to adapt the system – for example for use in other countries. By the beginning of 2020, the tool was already established in 15 federal states in Nigeria and two regions in Ghana, covering a settlement area of almost 75 million people.

The EU and GIZ are also cooperating in Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, where the population suffered from the effects of civil war for more than 25 years. A reconciliation programme jointly financed by the EU and the German Federal Foreign Office aims to counter the threat of conflict reigniting and encourage cooperation between state and civil society actors. Measures include memorial events, grief work and psychological support for victims of the civil war. To foster inter-community dialogue, the programme has initiated and promoted cultural projects. For example, it has organised film screenings focusing on the issues of coming to terms with the past and reconciliation that also give people a chance to get involved in chaired debates. In addition, GIZ has created a mobile museum that takes guests on a journey through the various chapters of Sri Lanka’s history since independence and worked with young people to develop a campaign against hate speech on social media.


As at: June 2020