A Coherent EU Strategy for the Sahel

11-05-2012

The Sahel region constitutes Europe’s southern geopolitical border. Any instability there will eventually find its way into the European neighbourhood and Europe itself. The present study examines the main challenges affecting the region and offers a critical evaluation of the 2011 EU ‘Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel’. The strategy identifies the lack of governmental capacity and systemic poverty as the key challenges the region faces and rightly points to concerted action in the security and development domains as the way forward. As such, we take a generally positive view of the diagnosis and the lines of action it envisages. However, we argue that one year after its adoption, the EU’s Sahel strategy has not lived up to expectations. For all the praising about the need for comprehensiveness, the EU’s efforts in the realm of security and development remain significantly disconnected. But ultimately, it is national caveats that pose the greatest threat to a more political implementation of the Sahel strategy. These include a denial of the strategic importance of the region, a lack of willingness to engage with Algeria and a resistance to incorporating military assistance into the EU’s toolbox.

The Sahel region constitutes Europe’s southern geopolitical border. Any instability there will eventually find its way into the European neighbourhood and Europe itself. The present study examines the main challenges affecting the region and offers a critical evaluation of the 2011 EU ‘Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel’. The strategy identifies the lack of governmental capacity and systemic poverty as the key challenges the region faces and rightly points to concerted action in the security and development domains as the way forward. As such, we take a generally positive view of the diagnosis and the lines of action it envisages. However, we argue that one year after its adoption, the EU’s Sahel strategy has not lived up to expectations. For all the praising about the need for comprehensiveness, the EU’s efforts in the realm of security and development remain significantly disconnected. But ultimately, it is national caveats that pose the greatest threat to a more political implementation of the Sahel strategy. These include a denial of the strategic importance of the region, a lack of willingness to engage with Algeria and a resistance to incorporating military assistance into the EU’s toolbox.

Externý autor

Luis SIMON, Alexander MATTELAER and Amelia HADFIELD (Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium) with research support provided by Marc-Antoine MORIN (Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium)