The European Business Council for Africa

After eleven years of presence, all EU personnel from the EU Training Mission in Mali are back in Europe. However, the EU remain firmly committed to the region: the people of the Sahel deserve peace and development and the EU is ready to accompany them on this journey whenever and wherever they wish. Beyond the Sahel, the EU is and will remain a reliable security partner for Africa.

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission said: "I would first want to pay a warm tribute to the EU military staff, both those who have been deployed on the ground and those who have supported the Mission from Brussels, for their efforts and dedication in a complicated context. At the request of the country’s authorities, EUTM Mali, has trained over 20,000 Malian soldiers since 2013, helping the Malian Armed Forces and the G5 Sahel forces fight terrorist threats. After consultation with the Malian de facto authorities, the EU Member States have decided not to prolong the mandate of our military mission. Channels of dialogue and cooperation remain however open, notably through the civilian mission EUCAP Sahel, helping reinforce the Malian internal security forces".

A difficult context
The departure of EU TM Mali comes in the context of a series of coups d'état taking place successively in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. This led to a rupture between these countries and ECOWAS, the West African regional organisation, and the departure of the French and American forces, as well as the end of EU military and civilian missions present in Niger. At the same time, the growing presence of Russian mercenaries to assist these military regimes has resulted in more instability, more exactions against civilians, more plundering of natural resources, accompanied by massive anti EU disinformation campaigns.

These developments represent a significant setback for EU foreign and security policy and the EU needs to draw with its Member States all necessary lessons to adapt to the new reality. That being said, what is clear and unchanged is that the EU remains fully committed to the Sahel region. It is indeed critical for the security and the stability of the African continent as well as for Europe due to the persistent terrorist threat and various trafficking in this vast and sparsely populated region. The people of the Sahel deserve peace, security, rule of law and development and the EU remains ready to accompany them on this journey whenever and wherever they wish. Unfortunately recent events indicate that since the coups in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, terrorists are rather gaining ground again in the region. New security actors cannot effectively counter them because they neither have the capacity nor really the will to do so.

As the terrorist threat is expanding from the Sahel, the EU has been stepping up its support to Gulf of Guinea states through a new model of civilian-military mission based on the needs identified by Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin themselves. As part of a wider response pulling together prevention, development and humanitarian assistance, the Security and Defence Initiative in support of West African countries will help them tackling instability and security challenges. In this context, Josep Borrell visited Ghana in October 2023 to hand over 105 military vehicles to the Ghanaian military forces. The first activities to strengthen national capacities of these countries were launched last April.

A reliable security partner for Africa
The EU also remains a reliable security partner elsewhere in Africa. The EU has demonstrated it recently with its EU Training Mission in Mozambique to help fight terrorism and restore security in the Cabo Delgado region. Josep Borrell visited this mission at its beginning in September 2022. Faced with the first indications of what could have become a new Sahel, the Mozambican authorities asked for EU's support. The EU established in record time this training mission and simultaneously, provided equipment through the European Peace Facility, a new EU instrument created in 2021. Using this facility, we have already dedicated more than € 1 billion in three years to help the African Union and different African countries equip their armed and security forces. In Mozambique, the EU supported also bilateral efforts by Rwanda and regional efforts by the South African Development Community. This timely combination allowed to limit the expansion of the threat although it hasn’t completely disappeared. As of next September, this mission will evolve to assist Mozambique to autonomously prepare and employ the troops trained.

In Somalia, since 2010, the EU Training Mission contributes also to building up the Somali National Army, providing strategic level advice and capacity building activities in line with Somali needs and priorities. And finally, at sea, the EU is helping fight piracy with operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta, off the Horn of Africa, and EU's Coordinated Maritime Presence in the Gulf of Guinea.

The European Union has always been, is and will remain a strong supporter of peace and security in Africa. Some setbacks will not change its steadfast commitment to those issues. The stakes are too high for the security of the continent, of Europe and of the world.


Source: EEAS