By Maureen Okon
The European Union is an organisation that seeks to promote the interest of European countries that subscribe to it. It strives to promote, among others, political, economic and migration integration of member countries.
It maintains diplomatic relations with many countries around the world, including Nigeria with a view to advancing member countries` as well as bloc interests.
“The European Union (EU) is a supranational, intergovernmental decision-making institution established to foster deep economic co-operation and political integration between European countries.
“Nigeria’s relations with the EU dated to the 1970s when it led a group of forty-six African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) during the negotiation between the European Economic Community (EEC) (now EU).
“The dialogue culminated in the formation of the ACP-EEC Lomé Convention on 28 February 1975, in Lomé, Togo“, says Olukayode Bakare, an international relations expert in a study published by Open Journal of Social Sciences.
As major players in international politics and economy, EU and Nigeria have fostered partnership that has been mutually beneficial over the decades.
“The EU remains Nigeria’s biggest trading partner, first investor, top donor of humanitarian and development aid, and the biggest diplomatic network. The volume of EU-Nigeria trade stood at €28.7bn in 2021 – 25.8 per cent increase over that of 2020.
“The EU’s imports from Nigeria stood at €17.5bn, while its exports were valued at €11.2bn, with the trade balance at €6.4bn in favour of Nigeria.
“The EU is Nigeria’s most important trading partner accounting for 20.9 per cent of Nigeria’s trade with the world. EU is the first export destination for Nigeria, accounting for 25.4 per cent of its exports.
EU is second in Nigeria’s imports from the world accounting for 16.1 per cent of its total imports. Nigeria’s economic relations with the EU bloc of 27 Member States’’ EU said in a recent report.
Under the President Muhammdu Buari’s eight year reign, diplomatic relationship between the two seems to have blossomed.
In a recent press statement, the EU said it will provide funding to the tune of 508 million euros between 2021 and 2024 to Nigeria.
According to EU, the money would be expended on projects that that strengthen its bilateral cooperation with Nigeria.
The Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) would be built around three priority areas of peace and migration and human development, green and digital economy and good governance.
“The European Union has a long-standing partnership with Nigeria.
“We are glad to launch this multiannual programme during the visit of the Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Ms Margrethe Vestager, and on the eve of the 6th EU-African Union Summit in Brussels,” said Samuela Isopi, EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS in a statement.
Similarly, earlier this year, the European Union Delegation to Nigeria stated its commitment to finance three projects in the value of 98 million Euros (approximately N20 billion)
The projects are: justice, anti-corruption and drugs sectors in Nigeria. These projects are expected to be implemented by United Nations on Office and Drugs (UNODC).
Already EU and Nigeria are working out arrangement on a multi-billion naira project that would massively benefit both parties, the supply of gas to EU-member states in the face of disruption in supplies by Russia as a result of Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports EU’s executive body urged member states to slash their gas consumption by 15 per cent as it warned of a likely complete shutdown of Russian supplies.
“We launched a gas demand reduction plan, and we are looking to reduce the demand for gas by 15 per cent to manage the demand aspect of the equation.
“To be clear, we need to manage the supply side, and that’s why we want to expand what is currently at 14 per cent shares of our total Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import from Nigeria, and we want it to go up. Our gas percentage was 60 per cent but now we want to go”.
The EU Deputy Director-General, Department for Energy, European Commission in Brussels Mr Matthew Baldwin said these when he met with top government officials in Nigeria and private sector players.
Isopi is positive that the relationship will get better as a new government under Sen. Bola Tinubu emerges.
“With policy dialogue and technical assistance by the European Union and the European member states will create space for EU trade and investments, while generating job opportunities in particular for Nigeria’s youth’’ Isopi said at the inauguration Netherlands Embassy-funded HortiNigeria project. (NANFeatures)