He wants “A solid partnership “With the Sahel which, he assures, is” at the top of the European agenda ”. The personal commitment of Josep Borrell, the high representative of Europe, is not in doubt and, during a trip to Mali, Chad and Mauritania in April, he again pleaded for action « continue » of Europeans in this area “Whose stability, security and development are priorities for the Union”.
The interest of France’s partners in the region is, on the other hand, very variable, which has often prompted its representatives in Brussels to denounce, more or less discreetly, their great loneliness when it came to evoking its strategic importance. .
“The announcement by Emmanuel Macron of the transformation of Operation“ Barkhane ”is not surprising, but the implementation of an international alliance centered on the fight against terrorism that he mentions is not settled. This poses a new challenge for Europeans ”, analysis, “Hot”, a cadre of the External Action Service.
“This reformatting is logical, given the scale of the deployment, the wear and tear of this mission or internal developments in Mali which made it difficult to maintain it, but this withdrawal will clearly not simplify things”, agrees the French MEP (LR) Arnaud Danjean, specialist in defense issues.
Peril over financial aid in Mali
A diplomat talks about his “Deep concern” : the European Parliament was already reluctant to maintain aid to Mali and the announcement of France, the country most involved in the Sahel, will, according to him, make it even more difficult to justify significant financial support to this country. Difficult, however, adds this expert, to dispute the decision of Emmanuel Macron in a context where doubts remain as to the real will of the junta in power to organize elections on the date initially planned – February 27, 2022 -, which would allow its members to continue to dig into the state coffers. In 2020, the EU refused to pay several tens of millions of euros, or a second tranche of budgetary aid, because officials would have illegally enriched themselves at the back of the state.
European caution was also reflected in the “new integrated strategy for the Sahel”, adopted in 2019. Between the lines, we could already see the failure of the financial commitment for the country, with an overall cost of 8.5 billion euros, including 3 billion for development and a major part for security. The following year was to be the most trying in terms of deaths, displaced people, famine and the spread of insecurity to countries neighboring Mali.
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