The EU relationship with the Sahel region and, in particular, with the G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) is of strategic importance to the EU in terms of security and stability, international climate and sustainable development commitments and migration routes linked to Europe.
The Sahel is experiencing several simultaneous crises, including a security crisis with regular attacks carried out by armed and terrorist groups against civilians and security forces, but also fuelled by inter-ethnic violence. Over 4,000 people died from attacks in 2019.
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An integrated approach to address the different challenges
Since 2011, the EU's integrated approach combining political engagement, security and defence support as well as a broad development and humanitarian assistance.
Three CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) missions are deployed: EUTM Mali, EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUCAP Sahel Niger. These missions now operate with a regional approach in support of the G5 Sahel. The function of EU Special Representative for Sahel was created in 2013 to foster political dialogue, coherence and coordination, including through regularly convening special envoy meetings.
Since 2014, the EU and its Member States have strongly supported the Sahel through mobilization of EUR 8 billion in total covering all key elements of the integrated approach. On the side of the EU, development cooperation amounts to €4.6 billion and humanitarian assistance to EUR 1.16 billion since 2014. In addition, the EU has made a specific effort to help the region, through a massive reorientation of funds (EUR 449 million), to face the sanitary and socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.
The EU and its Member States are still the main partners of the Sahel region today, and have continually intensified support.
A new Sahel strategy
In April 2021, the Council adopted a new EU Sahel strategy to strengthening mutual commitment and accountability with a focus on governance and human rights with partner countries from the Sahel region.
Moreover, after the emphasis placed on the military component at the Pau Summit in January 2020, the members of the Sahel Coalition (including the G5 and the EU) decided on a “civil surge” at the N'Djamena Summit on February 16, 2021 hence focusing on good governance and providing basic services to the population.
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The European Union’s Partnership with the G5 Sahel Countries
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.
Read the factsheet on the EU’s partnership with the G5 Sahel countries