Why is the EU working with Africa's "G5 Sahel countries"?
In 2014, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger set up the "G5 Sahel" group of countries to foster close cooperation in the region and tackle the major challenges that these countries face. Since then, the EU has stepped up cooperation with this African-led initiative to build a strong partnership on many fronts: from political dialogue, to development and humanitarian support, to strengthening security and tackling irregular migration.
The Sahel region faces a number of pressing challenges such as extreme poverty, frequent food and nutrition crises, conflict, irregular migration and related crimes such as human trafficking and migrant smuggling. Violent extremism also poses a serious security challenge to the region and has potential spill-over effects outside the region, including Europe.
What are the EU's main areas of support to the G5 Sahel countries?
The EU is now supporting the G5 Sahel countries on 3 main tracks:
- Political partnership: The EU is a strong political partner of the G5 Sahel countries and has set up regular "EU-G5" dialogues. High Representative Vice-President Federica Mogherini has held annual meetings with G5 Sahel Foreign Ministers to strengthen cooperation in areas of shared interest such as security, migration, counter-terrorism, youth employment, humanitarian response and long-term development. The EU is also strongly engaged in the Mali peace process.
- Development assistance: The EU, together with its Member States, is the biggest provider of development assistance to the region with €8 billion over 2014-2020. It uses all its tools to support development efforts in the region, notably the 'EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa' under which €843 million has been committed so far. The EU is also a member and key supporter of the newly formed Alliance for the Sahel, set up to coordinate existing EU and Member States development assistance better in the region, in a faster and more interlinked way than before through joint action.
- Security support: The EU supports concrete regional-led security initiatives. The EU has already provided an initial €50 million to establish the African led G5 Sahel Joint Force which aims to improve regional security and fight terrorist groups. The EU is itself a key security player in the region, with its 3 active Common Security and Defence Policy missions; EUCAP Sahel Niger, EUCAP Sahel Mali, EU training mission (EUTM) in Mali.
How is the EU involved in the Alliance for the Sahel?
The EU is a member of the Alliance for the Sahel, launched and signed by the EU, France and Germany in July 2017. It is currently composed of 9 members: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, the EU, UNDP, the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the World Bank. It aims to coordinate and deliver aid quicker and more efficiently in the region. It will have a particular focus on peripheral, cross border and fragile zones of the Sahel. Since its launch, the Sahel Alliance has identified priority six priority areas: (1) youth employment; (2) rural development, agriculture and food security; (3) climate, notably energy access, green energy and water; (4) governance; (5) support for return of basic services throughout the territory, including through decentralisation; (6) security.
What security support does the EU provide in the Sahel?
- The G5 Sahel Joint Force
The EU has fully supported this African led initiative from the very beginning and provided an initial contribution of €50 million to help set it up. This EU funding is provided through the African Peace Facility and can only cover non-lethal equipment.
Building on the EU's defence planning capacity and expertise, the EU has set up a one of a kind Coordination Hub to gather together the many offers of international support to the G5 Joint Force. The Hub is already up and running and enables donors to channel much needed assistance. In practice it works by matching the offers of donors to a Recognised List of Needs provided and determined by the Joint Force.
The Joint Force will be comprised of troops from Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, and will operate in all five countries. To step up action on security, particularly in border areas in the Sahel countries which face terrorist and security threats, the G5 Sahel countries have set up their own regional security force. Concretely, the G5 Joint Force will have permanent forces deployed along the borders, able to operate together under a centralised command and communication structure. This will help tackle the pressing terrorist and security threat in the region, which is a cross-border issue for all the countries concerned.
- Missions under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)
The EU currently has three CSDP missions in the Sahel:
- EUCAP Sahel Niger is a civilian mission supporting the Nigerien security institutions/forces (Police, Gendarmerie, National Guard, Armed forces) to reinforce the rule of law and Nigerien capacities to fight terrorism and organised crime. Since May 2015, its mandate has been enlarged to a fifth objective related to migration. Niger has opened a field office in Agadez, with a permanent presence activated from May 2015.
- EUCAP Sahel Mali is a civilian mission providing expertise in strategic advice and training to the Malian Police, Gendarmerie and National Guard and the relevant ministries in order to support reform in the security sector. A renewed mandate extends the mission until January 2019 and includes a reference to ‘the Accord for Peace & Reconciliation' and instructions to contribute to the inter-operability and coordination of the internal security forces of the G5 Sahel countries and the Malian internal security forces.
- EUTM Mali is a military training mission providing advice to the Malian authorities in the restructuring of the Malian Armed Forces, through the training of battalions (8 between 2013 and 2017) and support for the elaboration of the first Defence Programming Law ever adopted in Mali. Since July 2017, two security experts – one military and one civil – have been deployed in each of the five Sahel countries as part of the regionalisation of the CSPD missions. Their mandate currently runs until May 2018.
How does the EU support the peace process in Mali?
The EU is actively supporting Mali's peace process and is a guarantor of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement signed in 2015. The EU supports the United Nations Resolution for targeted sanctions against those who threaten the Mali peace agreement, and is a major partner of Mali on security. Two EU CSDP missions, one military (EUTM) and one civilian (EUCAP Sahel Mali) provide strategic advice and training to Mali's Armed and Security Forces and relevant ministries in order to contribute to the restauration of Malian territorial integrity, the protection of the population, and to support reforms in the security sector. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini visited Mali in June 2017 and announced EU support of €500,000 to the 'Comité de suivi de l'accord pour la paix et la réconciliation au Mali'.
How does the EU support the region with humanitarian assistance?
The European Union is one of the largest providers of humanitarian aid to the Sahel countries (including Nigeria and Senegal). In 2017, the European Commission allocated €234 million, including €90.2 million for food assistance, €56.7 million for nutrition, €22.5 million for health and €11 million for protection. Furthermore, the EU also supports disaster risk reduction initiatives to enhance emergency preparedness and response. Thanks to EU support, over 1.9 million vulnerable people received food assistance in 2017. The EU also supported the treatment of 455,000 children for malnutrition and in need of assistance.
EU assistance per G5 Sahel country:
- European Development Fund: €628 million (2014-2020): support for good governance, health, food security, agriculture, water, employment, culture, sustainable energy, public services, including budget support
- EU Trust Fund for Africa: €154,5 million (since 2016) plus regional projects
- Humanitarian aid: €6.5 million (2017)
- European Development Fund: €542 million (2014-2020): support for (i) food security, nutrition and rural development; (ii) management of natural resources; (iii) strengthening the rule of law
- Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: €113.3 million (since 2016) plus regional projects
- Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace: €6.9 million
- Humanitarian aid: €53 million (2017)
- European Development Fund: €665 million (2014-2020): support for (i) peace consolidation and State reform, (ii) Rural Development and food security, (iii) education and infrastructure
- African Investment Facility: €100 million for the construction of road and energy infrastructures
- Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: €186.5 million (since 2016) plus regional projects
- Humanitarian aid: €34 million (2017)
- EU CSDP missions: EUCAP Sahel Mali, EUTM Mali
- European Development Fund: €160 million (2014-2020): support for (i) rural development, (ii) good governance and (iii) the improvement of the health system.
- African Investment Facility: €20.5 million for the construction of infrastructure.
- Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: €54.2 million (since 2016) plus regional projects.
- Humanitarian aid: €11.8 million (2017)
- European Development Fund: €686 million (2014-2020): support for (i) food security and resilience (ii) supporting the State in delivering social services (iii) security, governance, and peace consolidation (iv) road infrastructure for regions at risk of insecurity and conflict.
- Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: €229.9 million (since 2016)
- Humanitarian aid: €42.6 million (2017)
- African Investment Facility: 36 million (2017)
- Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace
- CSDP mission: EUCAP Sahel Niger