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EU Policy towards Ethiopia amidst the Tigray War: The Limits of Mitigating Fragmentation


The Tigray war illustrates how the European Union (EU) often fails to act effectively and consistently in a highly fragmented context. During the 2020-22 conflict, the EU failed to address a number of challenges emanating from the internal fragmentation of Ethiopia. These pertained to the EU’s lack of contextual knowledge about local conflict dynamics and actors and, relatedly, the legacy of its relations with Tigray’s leadership; the inconsistent approach of EU institutions and member states that initially led to an normative outlook, which later evolved into a more balanced and pragmatic one when it was arguably too late; and the inability to mitigate competition with other external powers who backed the Ethiopian federal government. As a result, the EU adopted an inconsistent and ineffective approach toward the conflict.
Keywords: European Union; Ethiopia; Tigray War; fragmentation

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