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Council of the European Union: Day 3, no dambusting today

The Council of the European Union spent today discussing a possible migration crisis as a result of the planned construction of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam.

Egypt maintained the dam on the Blue Nile will lead to a decline of a third of Egypt’s share of the Nile water it claims under earlier treaties with Ethiopia, leading to such a significant decline in irrigation and industry that it could send millions into relative poverty and result in millions more heading north across the Mediterranean.

Ethiopia argued that the only people who would be affected were the 20,000 citizens in Ethiopia whose homes would be displaced by the reservoir behind the dam.

The two countries appeared as observers to the Council where they were grilled by members of the European Union, before finally coming together in an unmoderated caucus to pitch their concerns to the different groups of the Council.

Portugal interrogated Egypt on the economic status of its citizens and its political regime, while Spain questioned Ethiopia on the impact of the dam on tribes in the surrounding region and Poland criticised Ethiopia’s treatment of protesters. Egypt’s fellow Arab nations such as Algeria and the United Arab Emirates expressed concern over the effects on agriculture and population displacement, but ultimately all sides were looking to make a compromise.

A possible framework put forward by the United Kingdom aimed toward minimising the evaporation effects on the Nile and tieing Egypt and Ethiopia into the dam project through bonds looks set to pass the Council.

The chair Ceren told the press, ‘This is a very comprehensive and feasible solution on both sides. The best agreements always mean one side is not entirely happy, but Egypt and Ethiopia were thankfully both willing to make compromises and to both tie themselves into investments in the project.’

JH

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