As the EU is looking to strengthen its relations with Africa, the Sahel is set to be among its priorities. For at least a decade, the EU has invested heavily in the region, following a comprehensive but security-focused agenda.
A worsening security situation and a recent coup d’état in Mali highlight the complexity of the region’s challenges – and call for the EU to reassess its approach.
Coordination and coherence have long been central challenges for the EU in the Sahel. No quick fix exists, but the EU could consider centralising its analysis, reporting and coordination activities into one hub in the region itself.
The EU’s approach should also be less state-centric. This would mean supporting regional structures and solutions, but also paying more attention to local dynamics and being less reliant on the central governments.
Importantly, the EU should carefully review the balance between its short-term and long-term goals, as well as between its own immediate interests and the long-term needs of the region.