Quick Fix or Quicksand? Implementing the EU Sahel Strategy

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Series Details No.114, November 2012
Publication Date 06/11/2012
ISSN 1989-2667
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The implementation of the EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel1 has coincided with dramatic changes in the region. Shifts in the Sahel’s geopolitical configuration – especially after the Libya conflict – have pushed the EU to recalibrate its implementation plans better to fit the transforming context. However, changes in the strategy’s geographical orientation and policy approach have been neither consistent nor flexible enough.

The concerns that underpinned the design of an EU strategy for the region included threats from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and transnational criminal activities in the region’s ungoverned spaces. The establishment in early 2012 of a de facto theocracy in Mali by a coalition of radical Islamist groups linked to AQIM has greatly exacerbated those initial concerns.

Far from being a remote outpost abutting the EU’s outer neighbourhood, a reconfigured Sahel is now a functional part of the reshaped post-Arab spring North Africa. With many Sahelian states faced with worsening insecurity and a declining regional capacity to address the potential negative spill-over effects, the need for effective EU re-engagement cannot be over-emphasised.

EU interests in the region include the security of key
energy suppliers, trans-Saharan gas pipelines and associated commercial interests, as well as curtailing clandestine migration and tackling latent threats to contiguous EU territories5 and Europe’s mainland.

However, by initially focusing the Sahel Strategy on the weakest regional states like Mali, Niger and Mauritania – to the neglect of Nigeria and Algeria, the region’s two pivotal players – the EU incurred a serious geostrategic error. Recent developments have highlighted the limits of European action without a coherent engagement of regional powers.

Source Link http://www.fride.org/publicacion/1078/la-implementacion-de-la-estrategia-de-la-ue-para-el-sahel
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