Halting ambition: EU migration and security policy in the Sahel

Press release

Press Release

Halting ambition: EU migration and security policy in the Sahel

Some European leaders see the stabilisation of the Sahel region – through efforts to curb migration and counter terror threats – as key to the future of the European project

The European Union has a growing presence in the Sahel and is intensifying its security and redevelopment efforts in the region. The new policy brief from ECFR visiting fellow Andrew Lebovich – to be published live on our website this afternoon – posits that the EU should make a greater effort to match its programmes in the Sahel with its strategic vision, identifying where it can best contribute to long-term regional stability rather than allowing short-term thinking and political priorities to dictate its work. Only then can it achieve stability in an environment where a multitude of international actors are jockeying for position and influence, pouring vast amounts of money into one of the world’s poorest regions.

This policy brief assesses EU programmes in the Sahel following Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s recent re-election and the departure of two long-serving EU chiefs of mission in Niger and Mali, as well as several other senior EU officials.

Key takeaways:

  • The EU should integrate political and technical advice for Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions, and avoid ad hoc programmes disconnected from larger institutional strategies.
  • The EU should do more to press the governments of Niger and Mali to pursue substantive security sector reform and develop long-term national security strategies.
  • EU strategies and programmes in the Sahel should emphasise good governance, especially access to justice.
  • If CSDP missions fail to follow this approach, they are likely to have only a limited impact on the ground.


Note to the editors

Read it online and download PDF here.


About the author:

Andrew Lebovich a visiting fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations focusing on North Africa and the Sahel. He is currently a doctoral candidate in African History at Columbia University in New York, where he studies religion, politics, and society in North Africa, the Sahara, and the Sahel.


Media enquiries:

For comments and interview requests, please contact ECFR’s communications director, Ana Ramic, at [email protected]  T: +49 (0)30 3250510-27 M: +49 (0)151 65114216; ECFR’s communications team at [email protected].


This paper, like all ECFR publications, represents the views of its authors, not the collective position of ECFR or its Council Members.

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is the first pan-European think-tank. Launched in October 2007, its objective is to conduct research and promote informed debate across Europe on the development of coherent and effective European values based foreign policy. ECFR is an independent charity and funded from a variety of sources. For more details go to www.ecfr.eu/about/donors

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