March 1, 2024, 5:34 pm


Diplomatic correspondent

Published:
2023-10-28 09:56:53 BdST

Ursula von der Leyen saysEU-Bangladesh have been 'reliable and trusted' partners for 50 years


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina meets with European Commission Chairman Ursula von der Leyen

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has said Bangladesh and the European Union (EU) have been "reliable and trusted" partners for 50 years. 

"Now, we are taking this partnership even further, to reap the opportunities of the green transition under Global Gateway. Dear Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the 50th anniversary of EU-Bangladesh relations is the occasion to take our partnership to the next level," she said. 

The European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Bangladesh will join forces to support renewable energy and tackle climate change, Leyen said.

The Euro 400 million investment will make a difference for the people of Bangladesh and its economy, she hoped.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, together with Prime Minister Hasina on Wednesday, launched the negotiations on a new partnership and cooperation agreement to expand and develop the relationship between the EU and Bangladesh at the Global Gateway Forum.

On this occasion, the EU, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Bangladesh signed agreements worth Euro 400 million for renewable energy projects, to contribute to a sustainable green transition of Bangladesh's power sector and to the achievement of the country's climate mitigation targets. 

Five additional cooperation actions, worth Euro 70 million, supporting education, decent work, green construction, e-governance and the prevention of gender-based violence were also launched. 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her government is confident that this initiative will enable developing countries such as Bangladesh to fight climate change, to address infrastructure gaps, invest in renewable energy, digital innovation, healthcare, education and much more. 

"The Global Gateway is a sign of friendship, of partnership, of trust, of symbiotic interdependence," she said. 

European Union (EU) Ambassador to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley, who is attending the Global Gateway Forum in Brussels, described the development as a "new chapter" in Bangladesh-EU relations.

"Great to attend the bilateral between President von der Leyen and PM Hasina and the signing of the 400 million euro agreement on renewable energy, as well as other cooperation initiatives ahead of the launch of the Global Gateway Forum," he tweeted. 

Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bangladesh Jan-Rolf Janowski said, "Great step forward and with increased levels of exchanges, investment and partnership come also more obligations and responsibilities for both sides to keep the momentum..."

Driving the energy transition 

The Euro 400 million investment announced today between the EU and EIB (Euro 395 million) for renewable energy projects include an EU-guaranteed EIB loan of Euro 350 million, complemented by a blending support package of Euro 45 million that includes technical assistance and an investment grant. 

In addition, an accompanying Green Energy Transition project worth Euro 12 million which includes Euro 7 million that is co-financed by Germany aims to work on policy, legal framework and investment climate to facilitate an inclusive green energy transition. 

Projects will contribute to boost access to energy and rural development throughout Bangladesh, consisting mainly of utility scale solar photovoltaic and onshore wind projects, and potentially associated battery energy storage systems. 

The operation is expected to contribute to the installation of an estimated 750 MWp of new renewable energy capacity in Bangladesh. 

The investments are also likely to improve power distribution and decentralisation, eventually increasing national and, potentially regional, connectivity and resilience. 

As part of the technical assistance, the EU will help to examine project proposals including ways of combining energy production and food production on the same plot of land, solar, hybrid solar/wind, and solar with battery. 

Solar projects and onshore wind projects will be connected to the national grid under the supervision of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources. 

The Partnership for Green Energy Transition will help create a Bangladeshi legal framework that fosters investment for the inclusive green energy transition and will also improve employment opportunities for female professionals in the energy sector. 

At the Global Gateway Forum, an additional Euro 70 million package in cooperation actions were signed between the EU and Bangladesh in support of the education sector (Euro 30 million), to promote the decent work agenda, to scale up green construction, to boost effective digital governance, and to prevent gender-based violence in public spaces in the country (Euro 10 million in each case). 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of EU-Bangladesh diplomatic relations. In this time, the EU has been a trusted development, trade and humanitarian partner to Bangladesh. 

The relations between the EU and Bangladesh have grown from strength to strength over these five decades to become multidimensional, encapsulating political, trade, development, climate change, connectivity and concerns. 

The Global Gateway Forum brings together for the first time an assembly of government representatives from the European Union and across the globe, alongside key stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, thought leaders, financial institutions, and international organisations to promote global investment in infrastructure – hard and soft – to deliver on the SDGs and sustainable growth and resilience worldwide.

Global Gateway is the EU's positive offer to reduce the worldwide investment gap and boost smart, clean and secure connections in digital, energy and transport sectors, and to strengthen health, education and research systems.

The Global Gateway strategy embodies a Team Europe approach that brings together the European Union, EU Member States, and European development finance institutions.

Together, they aim to mobilise up to Euro 300 billion in public and private investments from 2021 to 2027, creating essential links rather than dependencies, and closing the global investment gap.

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