Challenges and priorities of the EU’s response to the situation in Afghanistan

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Series Details Number 73
Publication Date November 2021
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The humanitarian, political, and security crisis that followed the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan is of global concern. The takeover of the Taliban is going to have a far-reaching impact on international affairs and policy making, both in the region and in the EU.

For the EU, in particular, the situation in Afghanistan represents both an external and an internal challenge. On one hand, the EU will have to find ways to engage with the country’s new leaders while not recognizing their government. The EU will also have to strike the right balance in its relations with geopolitical stakeholders such as China, Russia, and the US. On the other hand, this will be possible if and only if the EU and the Member States will be able to get rid of the crisis-mode approach which dominated their initial reaction, distinctively characterised by migration and security-related obsessions.

A top story at the end of the summer, Afghanistan seems now far from the headlines to the point that some are hinting at an “Afghanistan fatigue”. Still, the situation on the ground remains tragic and is likely to deteriorate further. However, this – probably short-lived – lower media attention offers more room for informal talks and innovative ways to act which help to prevent the country and its population from plunging into total destitution.

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