MIL-OSI Europe: “The Sahel is a strategic priority for the EU and its member states”: Council adopts conclusions

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Source: Council of the European Union

“The Sahel is a strategic priority for the EU and its member states”.

On May 13, the Council discussed and adopted conclusions on the Sahel. The Council reiterated that the Sahel is a strategic priority for the EU and its member states. The various meetings taking place during the week of 13 May demonstrate this sense of priority and the EU’s integrated approach to the region. Foreign ministers had a discussion to set out the political framework, preparing for the exchanges of views between EU foreign and defence ministers on 14 May together with the foreign and defence ministers of the G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger), which is expected to focus on security aspects. On Thursday 16 May, EU development ministers will discuss how to step up the EU’s long-term engagement with and support for the region.

The conclusions recall that the EU stands by the authorities and people of the Sahel, who continue to face challenges of various kinds:

  • those of a political nature, in particular serious shortcomings in governance, the rule of law and the protection of human rights;
  • challenges relating to security, with the expansion of the terrorist threat, of extremist violence and of organised crime, including human trafficking, with climate change adversely affecting natural resources and fuelling local conflicts;
  • challenges in terms of development, with endemic poverty, strong demographic growth and weak socio-economic cohesion;
  • these factors aggravate food insecurity, increase migratory pressures and worsen the humanitarian situation.

Against this background, conflicts between communities have flared up again, in the space of a few months, in several countries in the region. Meeting these challenges and remedying these shortcomings is primarily the responsibility of the Sahel states. The international community supports them in their efforts.

Background

The EU is committed to the security and development of the Sahel, and is the leading partner in the region. It has a comprehensive approach integrating political and diplomatic dialogue, security and stability, and development and humanitarian support.

The political and diplomatic dialogue is focused around the EU-G5 Sahel political partnership, including ministerial meetings and the implementation of the EU Sahel strategy, the regional action plan as well as the Malian peace process. The EU High Representative holds regular meetings with her G5 Sahel counterparts to review and strengthen cooperation and coordination in areas of interest such as development, governance, and security. In addition, the EU acts as a guarantor of the Malian peace process.

The EU also supports the security and stability of the region through three CSDP missions: EUCAP Sahel Mali, EUTM Mali and EUCAP Sahel Niger with a reinforced regional approach. The missions include training, advising, as well as direct support to security forces with the ultimate objective of reinforcing respective national capacities. In addition, the EU and its member states assists in the operationalisation of the G5 Sahel Joint Force with € 147 million in funding already allocated to the Joint Force.

Total development cooperation support from the EU and its member states to the G5 Sahel countries amounts to € 8 billion for the period 2014-2020. The EU provides long-term assistance to the Sahel mainly through the EU trust fund for Africa (through which €930 million has already been mobilised), and the European development fund, which for the period of 2014-2020 has allocated €628 million for Burkina Faso, €542 million for Chad, €664 million for Mali, €160 million for Mauritania, and €686 million for Niger. The EU is also a major humanitarian donor, with more than €250 million allocated to G5 Sahel populations over the past two years.

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