During the last decade the EU has asserted, along with France, its role as main security and development partner in the African Sahel, as demonstrated by the approval of a specific strategy for the Sahel (2011) and its follow-ups, and by the deployment of three different CSDP missions and of the French military operation Barkhane. Notwithstanding these multiple efforts, the security situation in the area has never ceased to deteriorate, and the Sahel remains a context characterized by a complex mix of limited statehood, institutional fragility, hybrid governance, and violence. This development is directly questioning not only the efficacy of the security interventions, but even the adequacy of their sustaining logics and principles.
Accordingly, the Sahel offers a privileged entry point, for exploring forms and effects of the EU initiatives in the crisis- and conflict-management domains. Used as a veritable “laboratory of experimentation” in fact, in the Sahel the EU has tested new strategies and schemes of action for projecting stability towards its new “southern border”. Doing so, it has participated to the geographical and socio-political transformation of the region, furthering the redefinition – and the crisis – of the ruling principles governing this historically shifting space.
Edoardo Baldaro is a postdoctoral research fellow in International Relations at the Université libre de Bruxelles, Centre de recherche et enseignements en politique internationale, REPI. His main fields of work are Critical Security Studies, African Politics, Conflict and Crisis Management, Sahara-Sahel.