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The EU's Diplomatic Engagement in the Sahel


What does it mean in practice for the European Union that the Sahel is a priority? Which political and operational aspects and issues are prioritised and what can change in the future? To address these issues, the EU’s European diplomatic habitus in the Sahel is first analysed and critically assessed. Then, the emerging narratives used by the EU’s institutions and political leaders to define, describe and address policy issues in the Sahel-Saharan region are closely considered. It emerges that the EU has generally followed African regional organisations in reacting to the recent coups in the Sahel, for example through sanctions. Yet, the growing role of Russia has meant that the EU’s diplomatic habitus has been jolted forwards. In addition, while the EU continues to play a central diplomatic role in the Sahel and has a sophisticated diplomatic infrastructure, there is a risk of Brussels lowering its prioritisation of this region in the near future due to regional and global factors.

Paper prepared in the framework of the EUDIPLO network, April 2022.