Pedro Sánchez announces that Spain will favour the development of green hydrogen projects in Mauritania

President's News - 2024.2.8

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Presidential Palace, Nouakchott (Mauritania)

During the meeting, the three leaders discussed in depth the strategic relations that link Mauritania to the EU, and the bilateral, friendly and solid relations between the Kingdom of Spain and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. They underlined the depth and diversity of these relations, which cover a wide range of areas: political, economic, commercial, cultural, cooperation and security.

Aware of the breadth and importance of these ties, they placed particular emphasis on the fundamental principles that should guide their cooperation, namely constructive consultation, mutual respect, a spirit of trust, transparency, the constant search for effectiveness and respect for commitments. They also expressed their attachment to the universal values they share, such as respect for human rights, peace and fraternity.

They also noted with satisfaction the growing strength of the partnership between Mauritania and the EU, which is nurtured by converging interests, shared common values and a joint commitment to democracy.

In this context, the two European leaders praised Mauritania's role as an engine of stability in a sub-regional environment facing major security challenges. In this regard, they committed to provide Mauritania with the necessary support to strengthen its central and positive role in the sub-region, and its capacity to effectively address the multiple security and economic challenges, within an inclusive and sustainable development framework.

Ursula Von der Leyen, Pedro Sánchez and Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani welcomed this new step in building strong, diversified and mutually beneficial relations. This new dynamic is expected to intensify exchanges in areas of common interest, especially renewable energies, at a time when the world is moving towards a decarbonised economy, with the prospect of ecologically clean solutions.

Cooperation in the field of green hydrogen between the EU and Mauritania

In this regard, the three leaders welcomed the "Team Europe" initiative signed last October in Brussels, which should lay the foundations for fruitful cooperation in the field of green hydrogen between the EU and Mauritania. In this line, a mission of European companies will visit Mauritania next March to explore investment opportunities. This will follow exchanges that took place in the framework of today's round table on green hydrogen in Nouakchott.

Given the urgent need for a new road infrastructure between Nouakchott and Nouadhibou for an efficient development of the green hydrogen sector, President Von der Leyen underlined the EU's strong interest in supporting this project in the framework of the "Global Gateway".

In addition, the Mauritanian government's significant efforts to produce the electricity needed for its economic development are supported in the framework of cooperation with the EU, notably through rural electrification programmes. The EU is also considering financial support for the construction of the high-voltage line between Nouakchott and Néma, which is an important link in the sub-regional electricity grid platform.

EU, European Investment Bank and Spanish support for the digital infrastructure, health, fisheries and agriculture sectors was applauded. Spain is in a position to explore the possibilities of joint financing for new development projects in Mauritania with multinational institutions. Spain is also committed to facilitating financing for companies wishing to invest in Mauritania.

To strengthen and consolidate cooperation between Mauritania and the Kingdom of Spain, the new bilateral Framework Cooperation Agreement between the two countries was signed.

Mauritania's role in ensuring security in the Sahel

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, attends, together with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the business meeting on 'Green Hydrogen' held at the Presidential Palace of Nouakchott | Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

On the security front, President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani presented his analysis of the regional security situation and its implications not only for the Sahel and Africa in general but also beyond, stressing the relevance of the G5-Sahel's ideals and objectives. Staunchly believing that building peace and stability is a fundamentally collective endeavour, he stressed the need to continue to mobilise the international community for the benefit of security and development in the Sahel.

The three leaders shared these concerns about growing instability, which jeopardises any development effort. The President of Spain and the President of the European Commission praised Mauritania's central role in efforts to bring stability to the Sahel. They also decided to strengthen their peace and security cooperation with Mauritania. Von der Leyen reaffirmed the EU's support for Mauritania's defence and security forces, notably through equipment and the training of a new Mauritanian counter-terrorism battalion. He also expressed his willingness to contribute within the framework of joint efforts to continue the activities of the G5-Sahel Defence College.

Sánchez and Von der Leyen praised Mauritania's efforts to host refugees and acknowledged the pressure this puts on local resources and the local population. In fact, Mauritania currently hosts more than 150,000 displaced persons and the migratory flow continues unabated. The parties also recalled the urgent need for support from the international community commensurate with the challenges arising from this situation, especially in terms of care for refugees and assistance to host communities.

The president of the European Commission also announced a strengthening of support to refugees and host communities, responding to Mauritanian expectations. For his part, the President of the Government announced his intention to double humanitarian aid to refugees by 2024.

Combating migrant smuggling

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, the President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, during their joint statement to the media | Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

The three leaders also expressed their concern about the increase in irregular migration to Europe, which leads to loss of life, suffering and abuses of a varying nature. They pledged to strengthen their cooperation to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking networks and combat irregular migration, while ensuring protection and respect for the fundamental rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. In this framework, Spain and Mauritania are already working on circular migration programmes, where pilot projects will be developed. The three also stressed the importance of assisting Mauritanian security forces in their fight against migrant smuggling.

The Commission President pledged to strengthen this cooperation in the framework of a partnership on migration between the EU and Mauritania. To help Mauritania meet the challenges in the areas of migration management, forced displacement and security and development, the EU intends to strengthen its financial support and draw on the expertise of the European agency FRONTEX.

To this end, the competent authorities of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and the European Commission are mandated to continue the work initiated in December 2023 to strengthen dialogue, with a view to establishing a migration partnership that considers the objectives of each party and the necessary measures to be implemented.

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