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Good morning. EU ambassadors last night approved new rules aimed at setting aside windfall profits made on stranded Russian assets, a key step on the path to what some Kiev supporters hope will see money sent to Ukraine .
Today our Rome bureau reports on Italy’s attempt to curb illegal immigration from Africa through investment, and our competition correspondent reveals a pressure campaign aimed at blocking the partnership Microsoft with OpenAI.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has pledged 5.5 billion euros for development projects in Africa at a summit aimed at strengthening Rome’s relations with the continent. to write Amy Kazmin And Giuliana Ricozzi.
Background: Meloni has struggled to keep his promise to curb immigration. But she touted the creation of new job opportunities in African countries as part of a holistic approach to the issue, giving people “the right not to be forced to emigrate.”
“Mass illegal immigration will never be stopped, traffickers of human lives will never be defeated unless the root causes that push people to leave their homes are addressed,” Meloni told representatives of about 41 countries Africans, several international organizations and many European leaders. in Rome yesterday.
Meloni said Italy intended to “declare war” on human traffickers, while offering Africans “an alternative of opportunities, jobs, training and legal immigration pathways.” “.
Of the pledged money, 3 billion euros will come from Italy’s climate mitigation and adaptation fund, while the remaining 2.5 billion euros will come from funds earmarked for development cooperation.
Meloni said this resource could help fund basic development projects, including school renovations, improving access to health care, agricultural development and other projects.
Ursula von den Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said the summit was an “important contribution” to Europe’s broader effort to strengthen development cooperation with Africa.
But not all African leaders seemed so impressed.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, criticized Italy for the lack of adequate consultations with its African partners before unveiling his so-called Mattei plan for the continent, while hoping that Italy would respect its commitments.
“We must move from words to actions. . . we can no longer settle for simple promises that are often not kept,” he said.
But he also said it would take much more than token development aid to put relations between Europe and Africa on a more equitable footing.
“We are not beggars – our ambition is much bigger than that,” Mahamat said. “We are advocating a paradigm shift for a new partnership model. »
Chart of the day: Green costs
The EU needs to invest around 1.5 billion euros per year to become climate neutral by 2050, or almost 10% of the bloc’s current gross domestic product, according to a report by the Rousseau Institute. published today.
A non-profit coalition called on Brussels to block Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI on the grounds that it would harm competition, writing Javier Espinoza.
Background: The European Commission said earlier this month it was investigating whether the atypical investment deal between the US tech giant and the maker of ChatGPT fell within the scope of the bloc’s rules in terms of mergers.
The group of civil society organizations, which includes the Open Markets Institute, called on regulators to deepen the deal and possibly block it.
Critics point to Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI dating back to 2021 and its most recent investment of $10 billion less than a year ago, which led to a valuation of OpenAI as high as $29 billion.
The coalition says the partnership should be explored because “Microsoft has a real role in the operation and strategic direction of OpenAI, with profound implications for competition between the two companies.”
“The question of ‘decisive influence’ requires an assessment of de facto control and cannot be avoided simply by formally characterizing the investment as a ‘partnership’ to avoid scrutiny,” the coalition said in a document submitted to the commission.
“We have seen how the failure to block anti-competitive investments and acquisitions in social media, digital advertising and other markets has harmed innovation, privacy and choice and allowed “instead public” online from being monopolized by a handful of private platforms of little interest. in promoting the public good and protecting democracy,” the brief states.
The ball is now in the EU’s court, but expect Microsoft to put up a fight.
Reacting to the EU’s announcement of the preliminary investigation last month, Microsoft said: “Since 2019, we have forged a partnership with OpenAI that has fostered greater innovation and competition in AI, while while preserving the independence of the two companies. The only thing that has changed recently is that Microsoft will now have a non-voting observer on the OpenAI board.
What to watch today
EU ministers make their case to the European Parliament for why their cities should host the bloc’s new anti-money laundering agency, from 8:30 a.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron visits Sweden.
EU defense ministers meet for a informal meeting in Brussels.