Sunny aspect up: Maximising the European Green Deal’s potential for North Africa and Europe


  • North African states maintain nice potential to change into vital companions in Europe’s power transition within the medium and long run.
  • The EU and its member states could make stronger use of the European Green Deal to direct funding in North Africa in help of fresh power.
  • Governments within the area are fearful concerning the influence of some EU decarbonisation instruments, such because the carbon border adjustment mechanism. Europeans can allay a few of these fears by offering political dedication, monetary funding, and recommendation on the power transition.
  • New partnerships between the EU and North African states additionally supply the chance to make progress on wider environmental concerns, together with biodiversity, and to embed a human rights-based strategy.


“This era’s defining job,” is how the European Commission describes the local weather disaster. The European Union has set out to change into the world’s first climate-neutral financial system, aiming first to cut emissions by no less than 57 per cent by 2030 after which obtain EU-wide local weather neutrality by 2050. To rein in greenhouse gasoline emissions, in 2019 the European Commission adopted the European Green Deal, a complete transformation technique for power, transport, and meals provide.

North Africa may change into an vital accomplice in Europe’s power transition – ought to the EU take the appropriate steps within the coming years. North Africa has enormous renewable energy potential, notably in photo voltaic and wind energy, whose surplus could possibly be exported to Europe with relative ease. While not a short-term answer to Europeans’ fossil gas woes following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, clear electrical energy from North Africa can be an vital medium-term possibility to assist diversify Europe’s power combine and scale back reliance on imported fossil gas in the long run.

North Africa can be a promising place for the longer term manufacturing of green hydrogen, an power supply that’s more likely to be important for the EU to fulfil its local weather objectives in hard-to-decarbonise sectors. And the area can be house to important uncooked supplies (CRMs) obligatory for the power transition, providing the EU the chance to additional diversify its provide chains for clear power applied sciences. North Africa’s younger and well-educated workforce additionally affords the EU not solely a possible workforce for expertise manufacturing nearer to house than Asian markets, but additionally the talents obligatory for significant cooperation in areas comparable to analysis and growth (R&D).

All this must proceed whereas additionally helping states in North Africa to scale back their very own carbon emissions, together with in energy-related applied sciences. Currently, governments on this area, as elsewhere, are apprehensive concerning the EU’s proposed carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), which they worry will unduly influence on their economies. Closer cooperation between European and North African states may also help alleviate these worries. The EU might want to help them to supply power and different merchandise that don’t fall foul of the CBAM, and which in flip create jobs, enhance nationwide prosperity, and strengthen nationwide governments’ budgets. This cooperation may promote intra-regional integration of commerce and networks between North African states, additional supporting their economies.

The European Green Deal represents an vital umbrella alternative to pursue this transformation on either side of the Mediterranean. This coverage transient identifies these elements of the European Green Deal that may profit EU states and North African international locations by serving to them construct mutual long-term power safety and safe environmental advantages. It additionally examines the primary obstacles for the EU to beat, together with the operational challenges in native funding environments and the way the bloc can guarantee it builds a rights-based strategy into its engagement on the European Green Deal.

North Africa’s power potential

The international locations of North Africa have important photo voltaic and wind useful resource potential, are strategically situated between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, and keep strong political and financial hyperlinks with European states and companies. The area may change into an vital participant in clear power worth chains.

North African governments have beforehand proven curiosity in partnering with their European counterparts on clear power, as electrical energy generated from renewables could possibly be economically and politically engaging. This is especially the case for Morocco and Tunisia, that are net importers of power. North Africa can be extremely vulnerable to local weather change impacts, together with rising sea ranges, elevated droughts, desertification, and excessive climate occasions, all of which is able to have an effect on North Africa’s water and meals safety, in addition to its power safety: Morocco and Egypt have a excessive diploma of reliance on hydropower. Green power and its associated worth chains dovetail with the coverage priorities of some North African governments, together with attracting overseas funding, selling financial diversification and job creation, growing new export sectors, and, in circumstances comparable to Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia, positioning themselves internationally by ‘inexperienced’ management.

Clean tech innovation matches properly with the coverage priorities of all North African governments, which want to create expert jobs for his or her younger, well-educated populations, particularly in scientific fields. The area has a prepared expertise pool for R&D and a big cohort of expert employees for extra labour-intensive duties, and so its labour markets can help modern industries. European buyers and expertise builders may use present analysis capability in North Africa to cooperate on low-carbon applied sciences, together with to seek out options that the area’s sub-Saharan neighbours may additionally apply. North Africa’s geographic place may additionally assist strengthen and diversify European provide chains to uncooked supplies producers in sub-Saharan Africa. Morocco, for instance, has been negotiating with European electrical car battery producers to arrange a plant within the nation, aiming to combine its cobalt manufacturing with an present technique of growing its automotive sector. Such types of cooperation may yield constructive outcomes for either side.

For their half, earlier than all these advantages can materialise, North African international locations might want to overcome the political impasse that exists amongst a few of them. This has lengthy hindered cross-border cooperation and power commerce. For instance, neighbours Morocco and Algeria, two of North Africa’s largest electrical energy producers, have had many years of inauspicious relations. In current years, tensions about their shared border have resurfaced, as have tensions concerning the long-disputed territory of Western Sahara, the place Moroccan management is contested by pro-independence motion, Polisario, which receives help from Algeria. At the opposite finish of the area, Egypt is a pretty accomplice for commerce in renewables-based electrical energy as it’s within the Maghreb Electricity Committee (COMELEC) space, however the nation is de facto minimize off from the remainder of North Africa neighbours by Libya, the place political instability has made the usage of the Egyptian energy grid for regional electrical energy transfers unattainable. As this specific state of affairs is unlikely to vary within the foreseeable future, the probably companions for Europeans within the near-term will probably be Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, although policymakers in Europe must also acknowledge the potential for cooperation with Egypt. Libya will surely profit from new power partnerships with Europe, however in view of the present state of affairs, such cooperation is a way off.

North Africa’s governments even have a stake in defending their entry to Europe for present exports comparable to agricultural produce, manufactured items, and fossil fuels. From 2026, the EU’s incoming CBAM, which levies fees on carbon-intensive merchandise, has the potential to negatively have an effect on buying and selling companions within the southern Mediterranean. But equally, Europeans may assist North African states profit from the comparatively decrease carbon-intensity of their merchandise in contrast with merchandise made additional away. Morocco and Tunisia are already positioning themselves on this method by rising the share of renewables-based electrical energy era.

Clean power industries and their worth chains have a lot to supply North African international locations, particularly if the area’s governments make progress on integrating their regional electrical energy markets, regional harmonisation of expertise requirements, and, in the long run, cooperation over third-party pipeline entry. In addition, given the area’s significance to different elements of the African continent, this progress potential extends past energy era. New income streams may, if properly managed, additionally allow governments to implement wider reform, comparable to restructuring utility and power markets, decreasing power subsidies, and overhauling social safety programs.

Europe’s curiosity

As companions in such important new industrial growth in North Africa, Europeans would enhance their entry to scrub power and doubtlessly diversify their provide chains for clear power applied sciences. In addition, they might have higher entry to coverage circles in North Africa and would be capable to strengthen their advocacy of democratic reform and governance alongside advancing the EU’s personal local weather and environmental objectives. Without sturdy European engagement, North African international locations are more likely to depend on different, dominant suppliers in clear power worth chains, notably China.

The EU has the instruments to show the inexperienced transition right into a social and financial alternative past Europe’s borders, and create an engine for restoration within the aftermath of the worldwide covid-19 pandemic. The European Commission has emphasised that the EU alone won’t be able to realize the local weather and environmental ambitions of the European Green Deal.

The EU and North Africa have labored in strategic partnership for a lot of many years; they’re linked by geography, commerce and funding, monetary and growth support flows, and diplomatic hyperlinks. North African states are a part of the EU’s neighbourhood policy in the southern Mediterranean and the Union for the Mediterranean, which incorporates cooperation on biodiversity conservation, local weather motion, and sustainable power. From the EU’s perspective, this partnership displays each financial and political pursuits, starting from entry to North Africa’s pure assets and sustaining political affect to attempt to management migration throughout the Mediterranean into the EU.

The EU doesn’t at the moment use the European Green Deal umbrella or different local weather finance amenities to advertise collaborative funding in clear tech. It ought to seize this chance whereas additionally adopting a standard long-term imaginative and prescient for North Africa’s present pipeline infrastructure (to move pure gasoline, switching more and more to hydrogen because it turns into viable). Together, these may kind the spine of a sensible long-term technique able to gaining political help in Algeria, and maybe in a future, post-conflict Libya: each international locations stay extremely reliant on hydrocarbon exports and are thus most sceptical of Europe’s power transition. This coverage may additionally help different European methods beneath the European Green Deal, comparable to REPowerEU, a European Commission plan comprising quite a few measures to finish European dependence on Russian fossil fuels, by “fast-forwarding the clean transition,” working with new companions around the globe.

EU member states even have their very own long-standing plans to transition from fossil fuels in direction of cleaner power by a mixture of nationwide and Europe-wide methods. They have additionally partly engaged bilaterally with North African international locations on this context. North Africa has beforehand been heralded by politicians and scientists as a supply of fresh electrical energy for Europe, embraced, for instance, by the now-abandoned German-led Desertec Industrial Initiative, which deliberate to construct a community of Saharan photo voltaic tasks.

The European Green Deal goals to scale up the business software of breakthrough clear expertise innovation. By diversifying provide chains on this sector, the EU hopes to reduce its reliance on the dominant gamers, together with the United States and China. North Africa’s expert labour drive offers international locations there the potential to change into vital companions on this endeavour. Europeans ought to search to construct safe, cost-effective, moral, and sustainable provide chains for transition-related applied sciences beneath a standard umbrella framework.

Horizon Europe, the EU’s analysis and innovation programme, may be an vital instrument to help R&D in North Africa. It incorporates a give attention to local weather change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and affords a separate funding stream for analysis and innovation, together with a pool of greater than €90m to disburse between 2021 and 2027, which is open to non-EU international locations. European policymakers would want to contemplate the right way to ‘promote’ the ensuing job creation again house; political leaders might face questions on public cash getting used to create inexperienced power jobs outdoors the EU. However, they might be capable to level to the significance of supporting stability in, and decreasing migration from, Europe’s southern Mediterranean neighbourhood and securing entry to new clear power expertise worth chains.

The battle in Ukraine means North Africa may once more change into a spotlight area for intensified inter-regional commerce in renewables-based power. Although this could be a medium-term course of, growing renewables-based electrical energy exports – and, probably, hydrogen – may sooner or later supply a substitute for importing extra (Russian or different) pure gasoline, along with rising provide chain safety in the long run.

There is already important curiosity in North Africa in these points, as proven by, for instance, the signing of the EU-Moroccan Green Partnership in October 2022. This, in addition to a possible related partnership between the EU and Tunisia, which is at the moment in growth, may benefit from extra European engagement. To do that the EU ought to make use of present provisions beneath the European Green Deal and related instruments, together with the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan, the Just Transition Mechanism, the European Biodiversity Strategy, and Horizon Europe, to advertise ‘inexperienced’ growth in North Africa.

Closer cooperation may additionally deal with important environmental issues regarding power manufacturing in North Africa. For instance, based on the International Energy Agency (IEA), the mixed methane emissions of Algeria, Egypt, and Libya have been round 10m tonnes in 2019, or 12 per cent of world oil and gasoline methane emissions. The area additionally releases greater than 10 per cent of world flared gasoline volumes, which the IEA has called “a significant wasted financial and environmental alternative”. (Gas flaring is the burning of gasoline related to oil extraction.) It estimates that some 40-55 per cent of the area’s methane emissions could possibly be prevented at no web price, noting that there are “ample, cost-effective alternatives” to scale back them. Finally, Morocco makes use of emissions-intensive coal-fired energy era that results in carbon leakage in Spain, the place Moroccan coal-fired energy exports undercut Spanish producers.

Moreover, Europe’s capability to channel large-scale funding into clear power applied sciences and worth chains in North Africa additionally comes with political and moral obligations in addition to authorized constraints. These embrace the desire to tie inexperienced partnerships with exterior commerce companions to a rights-based strategy that ensures European inexperienced investments should not instrumentalised by governments within the area to legitimise repressive rule. The method the Egyptian hosts of COP27 handled NGOs important of the federal government within the run-up to and through the occasion illustrates the big variations with EU states in political attitudes in direction of points comparable to inclusiveness, illustration, civilian rights, and institutional accountability. Such issues might show to be a problem when implementing giant ‘inexperienced’ funding tasks in North Africa sooner or later.

Trust and mistrust

In March 2022 the European Council agreed to introduce the CBAM, an instrument designed to drive down the carbon depth of merchandise. The measure is more likely to have an effect on all the EU’s commerce companions, many adversely. The CBAM follows the European Green Deal’s already-stipulated new regulatory requirements, comparable to for agricultural merchandise: the Farm to Fork coverage bundle goals to make agricultural produce extra sustainable. However, each insurance policies erect additional non-tariff barriers for North African agriculture and different merchandise exported to the EU.

North African states comprise the EU’s largest items buying and selling companions in Africa, exporting gadgets that vary from agricultural merchandise and fertilisers to textiles and manufactured items. From 2026, fertilisers and electrical energy would require CBAM carbon certificates. Agricultural merchandise, too, might face elevated hurdles to entry the European market, except North African agricultural producers discover methods to extend compliance with EU requirements within the European Green Deal laws. Still, North Africa’s proximity to the European market will probably show an asset relative to agricultural producers situated in different elements of the world, as a result of it means shorter journeys and due to this fact doubtlessly decrease emissions.

European cooperation with North African commerce companions by European Green Deal mechanisms may give attention to instruments and boards that help governments and corporations to scale back emissions on exports to Europe. In this sense, the European Council’s proposed dialogue with third international locations by a new G7 “local weather membership”can be a discussion board for discussing carbon pricing insurance policies and options for growing nation commerce companions of the EU. The European Green Deal may, for instance, present monetary help to North African companions to spend money on decreasing the carbon footprint of key industries – and to handle the area’s excessive methane leaks. EU establishments may give steerage on in-country regulatory adjustments and supply monetary help for power effectivity schemes so producers can change to have the ability to export to Europe.

However, if the North African public perceives these programmes merely as devices for European environmental (and political) priorities, they’re unlikely to just accept them, and policymakers too will draw back from partaking with them. European and North African decision-makers will due to this fact want to make sure such insurance policies are accompanied by real native and nationwide dialogue with, and knowledge dissemination to, authorities entities, industries, companies, and the general public concerning the dangers and advantages of latest environmental requirements. This is a problem price taking over: EU-North Africa cooperation has nice potential to make environmental safety mainstream by attaining clear reductions in environmental air pollution, bettering air high quality, and agreeing credible environmental designations of protected areas. The political visibility of such cooperation on either side of the Mediterranean would elevate environmental and local weather motion right into a key instrument to foster sustainable growth, industrialisation, and job creation.

Main alternative areas

The EU and member states ought to think about pursuing choices for commerce in 4 kinds of power space: wind and solar energy, bioenergy, inexperienced hydrogen, and pure gasoline as a transition gas. Significant alternatives additionally exist with CRMs, that are important to fashionable applied sciences, together with within the clear power sector.

Wind and solar energy

North Africa has among the African continent’s best potential for photo voltaic and wind energy. The figures inform their very own story. The annual common photo voltaic irradiation within the area is round 2,200 kilowatt hours per sq. metre; wind speeds common a excessive 7 metres per second, and 9.5 metres per second in Algeria, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). IRENA estimates the installable capacities as 2,792 gigawatts (GW) for photo voltaic and 223 GW for wind – which is greater than 12 occasions the overall put in electrical energy era capability in Africa and greater than two and a half occasions Europe’s complete electrical energy output in 2021. This immense potential, alongside its proximity to the European market, means North Africa is Europe’s most vital potential future buying and selling accomplice in renewable power.

Falling prices for funding in photo voltaic and wind power in North Africa make these expertise choices extremely cost-competitive within the close to time period. The common set up price of photo voltaic photovoltaic panels (PV) in North Africa fell from $2,000 per kilowatt (kW) in 2015 to $1,306/kW in 2019, and for wind from $1,795/kW in 2015 to $1,448/kW in 2019, according to IRENA. The company says that prices for photo voltaic power in North Africa may fall additional by utility-scale deployment of battery energy crops. This could possibly be a recreation changer for renewables deployment throughout the area.

The infrastructure enabling electrical energy commerce throughout the Mediterranean is already largely in place. EU and North African states may work collectively to broaden this comparatively simply. Two direct grid traces run between Spain and Morocco; a third line was agreed in 2019, to be operational by 2026. Trade in renewable electrical energy between Europe and North Africa is due to this fact a sensible near-term possibility.

North Africa’s nationwide electrical energy programs are additionally interconnected, which means that the technical preconditions are in place to ramp up intra-regional electrical energy commerce. There can be potential to utilize intra-regional variations in demand peaks and weather-related variations in renewable power era between the southern Mediterranean’s east and west: COMELEC contains Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia, however coordination is sporadic and electrical energy transfers between states stay limited. Nonetheless, the frameworks exist for international locations to export a portion of their electrical energy and earn new revenues. With technical help from EU companions in business electrical energy buying and selling, such gross sales may play a important function in encouraging extra cross-regional electrical energy flows and political cooperation.

Several nationwide grids in North Africa are additionally linked to neighbouring regional energy swimming pools or international locations. This signifies that the choice exists to broaden future renewable power commerce and alternate past North Africa – thus doubtlessly rising markets for North African clear electrical energy. Morocco’s grid is linked to the West African Power Pool, which additionally covers: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. Egypt is linked to the equally intensive Eastern Africa Power Pool, which is made up of: Burundi, Djibouti, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania. In 2021, Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed an settlement to construct an extra interconnection throughout the Red Sea, giving Egypt entry to a different giant electrical energy market with substantial renewable power plans.


Europe may additionally look to North Africa, notably Egypt, for cooperation on bioenergy, comparable to the usage of biofuels in transport. In 2021, the EU up to date its Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and made it legally binding, introducing new guidelines and targets to take account of the dangers the biofuel market poses to cropland and carbon sinks comparable to forests and wetlands. It seeks to curb fuels liable to excessive “oblique land use change” (ILUC) and units criteria for the certification of low ILUC-risk bioenergy, and different sustainability standards. These adjustments will probably make it more durable to supply biofuels from conventional established channels. Therefore, the EU must look to different international locations to supply bioenergy that meets the sustainability standards.

Sustainable biomass feedstock comparable to agricultural residues and natural waste are available in North Africa supplied that provides are backed by correct certification. European international locations may safe a supply of biofuel to fulfill the EU’s REDII goal that 32 per cent of power consumed needs to be from renewables by 2030. Collaborations may give attention to bettering certification, partaking native producers, making certain the sustainability of exports, and constructing export markets. North African bioenergy producers may apply varied unbiased certificates to exhibit compliance with EU necessities, whereas North African governments and the EU may, in parallel, accomplice to work on environmental tasks and the extension of protected areas financed by European Green Deal-linked funds, the EU Biodiversity Strategy, and the European Climate Fund.

Green hydrogen

Hydrogen is a comparatively new power provider whose significance will probably enhance over the approaching many years. It will be generated from a wide range of present power sources, together with fossil fuels. Most related for the power transition is “inexperienced hydrogen,” which is hydrogen generated through the use of renewable power. By enabling the conversion and transport of fresh power in a kind aside from electrical energy, inexperienced hydrogen may sooner or later help the decarbonisation of hard-to-electrify – and thus hard-to-decarbonise – sectors, particularly energy-intensive industries comparable to metal, aluminium, and (petro-)chemical substances. Europe will probably change into a significant inexperienced hydrogen market and North Africa is a close-by, doubtlessly low-cost provider. IRENA believes Africa and the Middle East to have among the highest technical potential for inexperienced hydrogen manufacturing, primarily based on renewable potential and the price of electrical energy. It lists Morocco as one of many international locations greatest positioned to change into a inexperienced hydrogen producer by 2050, together with Australia, Chile, Saudi Arabia, and the US. North Africa additionally holds a powerful benefit as it will be capable to transport hydrogen comparatively effectively and cost-effectively alongside present gasoline pipeline networks to Europe, particularly if in comparison with exports from sub-Saharan Africa or the extremely inefficient transport of liquefied hydrogen from abroad.

Both Morocco and Egypt have already launched formidable plans for the manufacturing and export of inexperienced hydrogen. In 2019, Morocco created a National Hydrogen Commission and in 2021 revealed a inexperienced hydrogen roadmap, which envisages an area hydrogen market of 4 terawatt hours (TWh) and an export market of 10 TWh by 2030. This would require the development of 6 GW of latest renewable capability and help the creation of greater than 15,000 direct and oblique jobs. Egypt lately announced plans for a $5 billion venture for producing inexperienced ammonia. Morocco’s and Egypt’s longstanding expertise with electrolysers in present hydropower manufacturing has drawn the eye of worldwide buyers.

Egypt already has partnership agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with a number of European international locations (see desk). Morocco has an present bilateral commerce settlement with Germany, which incorporates German support to construct Africa’s first inexperienced hydrogen plant, together with funding in information switch and R&D. Both sides additionally cooperate throughout the framework of the Green Ammonia project: this goals to develop processes and applied sciences to effectively produce inexperienced hydrogen and inexperienced ammonia as sustainable uncooked supplies for the fertiliser trade.

Country Project/Agreement Date of settlement Characteristics and targets
Morocco   Agreement for the event of an ammonia and inexperienced hydrogen venture (HEVO Ammoniac Maroc) between the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Fusion Fuel Green, and Fusion Fuel and Consolidated Contractors Group S.A.L. (CCC). July 2020 Green ammonia: 3,650t in 2022, 60,000t in 2025 and 2026. Hydrogen: 616t in 2022, 3,472t in 2023, 6,940t in 2024, 10,411t in 2025 and 2026. Investment: €865m.
Partnership settlement on inexperienced hydrogen between Moroccan and German governments. June 2020 100 megawatts (MW) renewable power plant to supply inexperienced hydrogen in Morocco.
The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) plans to develop a hybrid PV/wind energy plant to provide a inexperienced hydrogen plant. November 2020   Electrolysis capability 100 MW. 2022: finalisation of the feasibility research and tendering course of. 2024-2025: business launch of the location.
Agreement between Moroccan and Portuguese governments for the event of inexperienced hydrogen. February 2021
Egypt   MoU between Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy and Siemens. January 2021 To assess the manufacturing of inexperienced hydrogen in Egypt and the implementation of a pilot venture.
Cooperation settlement between Egypt’s Ministries of Electricity, Petroleum, and the Navy and DEME (Belgium). March 2021 To examine producing inexperienced hydrogen in Egypt and exporting it.
Agreement between Eni, the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company, and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company. July 2021 To conduct a research to evaluate the feasibility of tasks to supply inexperienced and blue hydrogen in Egypt.
MoU between Siemens and EEHC. August 2021 To launch a inexperienced hydrogen pilot venture with an electrolysis capability of 100-200 MW.
Partnership between Scatec (Norway), ammonia firm Fertiglobe, and the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Egypt. October 2021 To develop a 100 MW inexperienced hydrogen plant for ammonia in Egypt.
MoU between Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy, the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to evaluate low-carbon hydrogen in Egypt. March 2022 Assessment to supply tips for the nationwide low-carbon hydrogen technique.
Tunisia MoU between Tunisian and German governments. December 2020 To set up a Tunisian-German alliance on inexperienced hydrogen.
Algeria MoU between the state-owned oil firm Sonatrach and Eni. March 2020 To develop a pilot venture to supply inexperienced hydrogen in Algeria.
Source: Planning and prospects for renewable power: North Africa, IRENA
Hydrogen tasks in North Africa

Europe’s and North Africa’s present pure gasoline pipeline community at the moment includes:

  • the Enrico Mattei (“Galsi”) pipeline, which runs from Algeria by way of Tunisia to Italy.
  • the Pedro Duran Farell (“Maghreb-Europe”) pipeline which runs from Morocco to Spain.
  • the Medgaz pipeline, which runs from Algeria to Spain.
  • the Greenstream pipeline, which runs from Libya to Italy.

This present pipeline community may in future transport inexperienced hydrogen throughout the Mediterranean. It offers a technologically and (most likely) economically viable possibility for the in any other case troublesome long-distance cargo of hydrogen. It would give North African fossil gas exporters a substitute for pure gasoline exports because the power transition step by step reduces European demand for gasoline within the coming many years.

Natural gasoline as a transition gas

The European Commission has endorsed pure gasoline as a transition gas that may contribute to the decarbonisation of the EU financial system. Under the European Green Deal, the fee pledged to facilitate the decarbonisation of the gasoline sector, together with by enhancing help for what the EU considers “decarbonised gases” and “a forward-looking design for a aggressive decarbonised gasoline market, and by addressing the problem of energy-related methane emissions.”

North Africa is not going to be a supply of speedy reduction for Europe’s gasoline provide worries. Algeria lacks short-term manufacturing growth capability and there are capability constraints in present pipelines between Spain and the remainder of Europe, which at the moment restrict market access for North African gasoline by way of Spain to the remainder of western Europe. In Libya, political instability has constrained exports and can probably proceed to take action. Egypt’s new pure gasoline discoveries lately may assist enhance its pure gasoline exports within the close to time period, within the type of liquefied pure gasoline (LNG), which Europe can extra simply import as transport capability points are extra readily solved than challenges with pipeline gasoline. But, general, North Africa’s output is not going to plug Europe’s speedy gasoline provide shortfall.

Crucially, the EU’s prioritisation of pure gasoline as a transition gas may assist alleviate political concern in North Africa concerning the European Green Deal as a instrument that drives down demand for fossil fuels, which hydrocarbon-producing governments within the area fear will result in an accumulation of stranded property. For international locations nonetheless reliant on fossil gas exports – Algeria and, to a lesser extent, Egypt – European gasoline demand alongside help to develop alternative industries could possibly be a significant promoting level of the power transition.

This strategy affords scope to rethink methods to safe present and future North African gasoline exports. By guaranteeing EU export markets for North African gasoline within the medium time period, the EU may supply Algeria incentives to discover a medium-term manufacturing enhance by ‘debottlenecking’ and decreasing flaring. Expanding present gasoline pipeline hyperlinks between Spain and its European neighbours may allow Spain’s present LNG import capability to ease bottlenecks in Europe’s western pipeline capability. This would end in extra western European entry to LNG, given present bottlenecks each in LNG import infrastructure in western Europe and in pipeline hyperlinks inside western Europe. Germany and Spain have lately engaged in bilateral talks to discover the choice of a doable European pipeline growth from Spain throughout the Pyrenees in direction of central Europe.

Critical uncooked supplies

Geopolitical tensions have stoked concern in Europe and elsewhere about dependable and unhindered entry to sure uncooked supplies. This is true for CRMs, that are economically vital however have fragile or insecure supply chains. CRMs are essential for clear power applied sciences comparable to photo voltaic panels, wind generators, electrical automobiles, energy-efficient lighting, and green hydrogen. The EU has identified entry to them as “a strategic safety query for Europe’s ambition to ship the Green Deal”. The EU’s 2020 list of CRMs identifies 30 uncooked supplies deemed “important”, together with cobalt, lithium, phosphorus, and uncommon earth parts.

Some CRMs are current in North Africa, particularly phosphates in Morocco. The nation was the world’s second largest producer of phosphates in 2020 and holds roughly 75 per cent of world reserves. Phosphate deposits are additionally found in Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt. Other CRMs are deposited in smaller portions throughout North Africa, together with barytes (or barium sulphite) – a mineral primarily utilized in drilling fluids but additionally in specialist paints, concrete, and medication – and cobalt. Morocco was the world’s third largest producer of barytes in 2020, accounting for 15 per cent of Europe’s provides.  

Like all mining operations, CRM manufacturing entails important environmental dangers and impacts on native communities. There are dangers to well being, and livelihoods could also be jeopardised by land grabs. Morocco has carried out tree planting to remediate areas close to to mining operations. The European Green Deal should guarantee financing, funding, and commerce agreements adjust to clear and verified environmental and human rights-based requirements for sustainable and moral mining. Including CRMs beneath the European Green Deal umbrella may assist communities to learn from the event of native assets.

CRMs are additionally politically controversial. A big share of Morocco’s pure assets, together with its CRMs, are present in Western Sahara, together with phosphates. Recent renewed hostilities between the pro-independence Polisario and Morocco may complicate mining and exports. Foreign corporations could also be cautious of investing or working in Western Sahara due to the determination of the United Nations’ authorized counsel that any exploitation of the territory’s pure assets “in disregard of the pursuits and needs of the folks of Western Sahara can be in violation of the ideas of worldwide regulation”.


To entice company funding, totally different industries, applied sciences, and worth chains would require diversified and particular help. The advantage of utilizing European Green Deal-related instruments and mechanisms is that the EU has a wide range of means at its disposal, though their software has been restricted. Countries comparable to Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia have made a lot of their emissions cuts, and their renewable power plans as a part of their nationally decided contributions, conditional on the provision of enough funding.

Development finance establishments have a important function to play in bettering entry to power in North Africa, particularly by enabling extra electrification of family power and finance for rooftop power options. On the EU’s aspect, the usage of express financing instruments comparable to Horizon Europe is an possibility: it may make finance out there at extra reasonably priced charges, because the African Development Bank and the World Bank Group do. Many European Green Deal-linked financing instruments already permit for financing in third international locations, so the EU may activate these provisions by partaking in supportive bilateral talks and proactive methods to construct industries with export markets in Europe.

Another solution to help funding in inexperienced power applied sciences in North Africa, and clear power commerce, can be to increase present subsidy schemes for inexperienced power consumption throughout the EU to imports from North Africa. This may assist keep away from the pitfalls encountered in previous tasks such because the Mediterranean Solar Plan and the Desertec Industrial Initiative, which on the time needed to cope with widespread subsidies for photo voltaic and wind tasks contained in the EU, which have been designed as protectionist, and thus discriminatory, insurance policies that turned out to be a major impediment to these tasks.

So far, the EU and its member states have hesitated to deploy such funds proactively by partnering with growing international locations. The European Green Deal and its related financing mechanisms will face the identical story except Europeans make investments extra severe effort in higher coordination between totally different coverage instruments and financing mechanisms. Underpinning this needs to be a transparent political imaginative and prescient on the a part of the EU for the right way to use these funds for the advantage of growing international locations.

To spur funding in clear power in North Africa, third-party entry to power transport infrastructure comparable to pipelines will probably be important, together with entry to transmission traces and pipelines. This is a contentious concern inside each Europe and North Africa, as constructed pipelines are owned by the business corporations that initially constructed them, and third-party entry would require negotiation with these corporations (and their governments). It will probably additionally require a change in regulation as properly to facilitate third-party entry. Within Europe, the Third Energy Package might also complicate commerce in gasoline imported by anyone European nation with third international locations, and future gasoline commerce throughout Europe will probably require extra regulatory adjustments. Nevertheless, tackling that is important with a view to maximise funding flows. EU negotiators ought to due to this fact embrace third-party entry as a situation of furthering clear power commerce in order that the stipulation covers European corporations and North African buying and selling companions.


As they intention to fulfill the objectives of the Paris Agreement, European and North African states have nice potential for complementarity within the transition from fossil fuels to scrub power. However, at current the EU’s southern Mediterranean neighbours are inclined to understand the power transition in Europe, particularly the CBAM, as a problem to their very own economies. This is all of the extra purpose to undertake an inclusive strategy and prolong to them the European Green Deal’s associated financing and partnership mechanisms. This will minimise friction and create an enormous shared financial, environmental, and political alternative.

European states’ capability to help their neighbours’ decarbonisation efforts – financially and technologically, in addition to by different partnerships comparable to in areas of analysis collaboration – may assist present North African leaders with vital monetary and political arguments to push for the transformation of their nationwide power sectors. This is true for North African international locations with restricted fossil gas assets, particularly Morocco and Tunisia, which might be vital ‘winners’ of a transition in direction of new power sources. It can be true for North Africa’s fossil gas producers – Algeria and Libya – whose politicians wrestle way more in making selections between local weather objectives and the spectre of large-scale job and earnings losses.

With so many issues, what are the options?

Mapping the issues and the potential

A mutual, and mutually trusted, strategy of due diligence ought to begin by mapping out areas of concern and curiosity for each EU and North African governments. The course of ought to cowl areas the place policymaking might simply fall prey to business pursuits. It may require its personal devoted establishment.

The European Green Deal ought to intention to stimulate developments within the following methods:

Partnerships: Meaningful partnerships are key to creating the European Green Deal a reputable coverage mechanism able to sensible motion. The EU and North African states ought to due to this fact arrange a discussion board for two-way communication, data sharing, and implementation. This is equally true even when Morocco and Tunisia change into EU Green Partners, a standing that needs to be tied to credible dedication and cooperation on environmental safety, biodiversity conservation, and local weather motion.

Progress will must be demonstrable, and making it so will entail pursuing some troublesome political processes bearing on different sources of discontent in North Africa: information transparency; public entry to data; public communication by authorities businesses; and free speech. Controversies exist over how far media and civil society organisations are capable of current important native viewpoints on land tenure and growth, biodiversity conservation, infrastructure growth, and civil rights. Making certain a European Green Deal partnership framework doesn’t encourage or professional greenwashing will probably be important to its success. European policymakers ought to due to this fact pay shut consideration to tasks with European involvement, comparable to entry to North African CRMs, and guarantee they solely obtain help in the event that they conform to the mandatory requirements and safeguards.

STEM R&D, jobs, and capability constructing: Technical cooperation, information alternate, and R&D – probably co-funded by the EU – may promote capability constructing in science, expertise, and public administration and convey the final word profit of great job creation throughout North Africa. There are many sensible parts to such programmes, a few of that are comparatively straightforward to implement: for instance, scholar scholarships, analysis grants, and easing work and journey restrictions in Europe for related professions.

Trade facilitation: This will probably be notably useful to help North African corporations to adapt to the CBAM, particularly small and medium-sized companies. CBAM compliance could possibly be facilitated by EU monetary help to assist corporations in North Africa’s rising non-public sector to enhance their power effectivity, particularly in core sectors comparable to agriculture, manufacturing, and utilities. Cross-Mediterranean cooperation must also give attention to coverage help for alignment with legal guidelines and laws that conform to European Green Deal prescriptions. Both strikes would profit the area’s R&D and personal companies.

Market regulation: Multiple areas may achieve from coverage help that, mixed, can play a strong function in making the power transition achievable. These embrace: exiting fossil gas output and use, particularly coal which remains to be utilized in elements of North Africa; an finish to fossil gas subsidies and their alternative with monetary support for low-income households and clear power applied sciences; electrical energy sector reform; and capability constructing in nationwide and native our bodies. Reforming the electrical energy sector might embrace designing aggressive auctions for renewable power tasks, authorized and regulatory frameworks for unbiased energy producers, and insurance policies to help decentralised power, comparable to rooftop photo voltaic.

Building belief: This will probably be key to success and is dependent upon the presence of real partnerships that meet the wants of North African international locations and ship the help they request. A European Green Deal partnership umbrella between the EU and its southern neighbourhood is a political and diplomatic venture as a lot as an financial one. Both European and North African decision-makers might want to help human capital, pursue clear and nimble collaborations, and help scalable options that serve native worth creation. Clear, clear safeguards will probably be wanted to guard the atmosphere and human rights, particularly when new large-scale developments require entry to land, water, and native labour.

Synergies and planning for scalability

The European Green Deal will solely be a profitable instrument for local weather and environmental motion in North Africa whether it is accessible to folks within the area and helps help significant tasks and scalable options. One of the primary steps could possibly be for governments on either side to establish such synergies, and to discover avenues through which the European Green Deal may make a distinction within the particular context of every particular person nation. Applied properly, the regional umbrella it supplies could possibly be transformative in its scale and ambition. It may leverage synergies with the next initiatives: the African Development Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa; the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative; the Africa Power Vision; the African Clean Energy Corridor; and the African Union’s new African Single Electricity Market. It may additionally construct on world growth tasks and initiatives, such because the UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa (2020-2030).

In such methods, the EU ought to hyperlink European Green Deal initiatives with present programmes. This will exhibit the multiplying energy of regional motion, as profitable programmes may later be expanded to neighbouring areas, comparable to international locations in west Africa. It may additionally finally help a post-conflict Libya.

Environmental safety and enhancement

Extending European Green Deal mechanisms to North Africa may assist deal with damaging impacts from the area’s fossil gas manufacturing, whose emissions from oil and gasoline are among the many highest on the earth. The EU may couple monetary help with formal necessities to scale back methane emissions and different environmental impacts from oil and gasoline manufacturing. It may ask potential new oil and gasoline producers, comparable to Morocco, to decide to a ceiling for methane emissions, particularly from flaring. The EU ought to draw up devoted programmes to incentivise motion, comparable to an emissions buying and selling system that rewards greenhouse gasoline reductions or helps funding in related expertise. New agreements with the EU or member states for purchases of gasoline as a transition gas (see beneath) could possibly be tailor-made to incentivise the seize of flared gasoline. Effective help may soften the political hostility to the European Green Deal within the area. A coverage discussion board linked to such a joint physique would allow policymakers to debate contested points, comparable to fisheries.

Many different present EU initiatives would match beneath a European Green Deal umbrella partnership. One such is  NaturAfrica, which helps biodiversity conservation in Africa and EU world commitments beneath the Convention on Biological Diversity. It goals to guard ecosystems, battle wildlife crime, and enhance monetary flows to growing international locations for biodiversity safety. Its transient contains funds for human rights protections the place land dispossessions comply with from conservation efforts. Such points are of relevance given the foremost impacts large-scale industrial developments, together with in renewables, can have on biodiversity and on the human rights of affected populations.

The Convention on Biological Diversity additionally has a joint initiative with the UN Environment Programme and others – the Pan-African Action Agenda on Ecosystem Restoration for Increased Resilience seeks to advertise land and ecosystem restoration and was partly developed with the Egyptian authorities and the African Union. European Green Deal funding may support these efforts and hyperlink venture help to a set of fine governance requirements, particularly in cross-border water and biodiversity administration. The want for such requirements is obvious in circumstances such because the Nile Canal venture to divert water from South Sudan’s White Nile to Egypt, which dangers drying out the world’s second largest wetland.

Establishing these complicated types of cooperation and transferring in direction of implementation will undoubtedly deliver each institutional and political challenges. Cooperation agreements and tightened environmental requirements will want devoted efforts and, probably, capability constructing inside North African authorities establishments – particularly capability constructing for technical regulation and danger assessments, monitoring and enforcement, and public session and communication.

A rights-based strategy

Europeans want the political will to make sure clear tech investments really promote sustainable industries, are environmentally accountable, and profit native folks. They should set excessive social and environmental safeguards for all power and infrastructure-related tasks and defend communities from land grabs, just like the dispossessions created by earlier Moroccan “concentrating solar energy” projects. Given the inherent danger of corruption and lack of transparency linked to large-scale infrastructure growth, there’ll must be high-level EU engagement with a transparent give attention to pushing for transparency.

The EU must do extra to make sure it is ready to implement and monitor safeguards. It will want formal mechanisms backed by authorized ones to tie funding, finance, and commerce agreements to a rights-based strategy. Safeguards ought to embrace group session; environmental influence assessments; capability constructing for presidency businesses and native contractors in addition to European corporations working on this space; and political help for civil society and press freedom. The EU will want clear processes for the approval of fresh power tasks in all accomplice international locations. All this requires a high-level political imaginative and prescient inside Europe for sustainable growth in North Africa. The strategy of growing this imaginative and prescient may itself be a strong instrument for change.

Western Sahara is undoubtedly one of the crucial politically controversial and legally difficult questions such a imaginative and prescient will face. Much of the phosphate and different minerals that might gas Morocco’s clear power industrial provide chains, in addition to solar energy era potential, are in Western Sahara. This will conflict with long-standing EU authorized positions, together with its non-recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the territory. The European Commission’s efforts to incorporate Western Sahara in EU commerce relations with Morocco have repeatedly been blocked by the European Court of Justice. As the courtroom has ordered Western Sahara be excluded from EU agreements with Morocco, this could forestall the EU from utilizing funding devices comparable to Horizon Europe there and would pose a major problem to the EU’s inexperienced partnership with Morocco. The fee and member states have but to acknowledge these dangers or interact in any severe contingency planning ought to the courtroom as soon as once more block the EU’s newest buying and selling preparations with the territory, as it’s anticipated to do that 12 months.


Extending the European Green Deal to North African international locations may catalyse many alternatives – financial, social, and environmental. Strengthening the EU’s cross-Mediterranean partnerships may contribute to European power safety, no less than within the medium-to-long time period. If managed in clear and accessible methods, with high-level political help and the engagement of nationwide governments, the EU may overcome among the difficulties which have dogged previous tasks, comparable to monetary waste, restricted political enchantment, and insufficient technical entry for the folks in North Africa who would profit most, together with these within the area’s non-public sector.

About the creator

Laura El-Katiri is a visiting fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations. She is a advisor specialising in power and sustainable growth, with a give attention to the Middle East and Africa. Her analysis contains work for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, the UN Development Programme, the UN Office for Project Services, the UN Industrial Development Organization, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and the International Renewable Energy Agency.


The creator thanks Jonathan Walters, Julien Barnes-Dacey, Jeremy Shapiro, Adam Harrison, and Mary Hennock for his or her useful enter to this transient.

The European Council on Foreign Relations doesn’t take collective positions. ECFR publications solely symbolize the views of their particular person authors.



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