Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York


Remarks by EEAS Deputy Secretary-General Leffler at the High Level Side Event on the Sahel Alliance

New York, 24/04/2018 - 20:12, UNIQUE ID: 180425_18

24 April 2018, New York – Remarks by Mr. Christian Leffler, Deputy Secretary-General for Economic and Global Issues at European External Action Service, at the High Level Side Even on the Sahel Alliance

  • The Sahel provides a good example of a coordinated engagement with Member States, as well as with other partners such as the UN and the AU, and last but not least with the Sahel countries themselves and their own organisation, the G5 Sahel.


  • The Sahel Conference on 23 February was the first time that 32 Heads of State or Government from the European Union and the G5 Sahel together with the UN, the AU and numerous others partners from all over the world, gathered in Brussels to discuss the Sahel. This sends a clear and strong message underscoring our willingness to seriously engage with the region.


  • Emphasise that the Conference was not only about security, it was also about development. Since improving the security situation cannot go without social and economic development, the EU has invested EUR 8 billion in the Sahel over the last 7 years.


  • Our commitment now should be to keep up the good work together with the G5 Sahel who has become an important partner for the EU and the international community in pursuance of our common objectives in the Sahel.


  • The current situation in the Sahel is very challenging. Terrorism is spreading, as seen with the recent attacks in Ouagadougou and Tombouctou, and irregular migration is continuing at high numbers. Socio-economic development is only progressing at a slow pace in a region where democratic growth is uncontrolled. There is thus an increased need for further work in partnership in order to ensure the stability of the Sahel, which is first and foremost crucial for the region, but also for Europe and the international community.


  • Consequently, support to the Sahel constitutes a strategic priority for the EU, now and for the years to come. Stable countries in this region will contribute substantially to European security and limit risks of uncontrolled migration flows. This is particularly relevant in view of African demographic trends with projected doubling of the population by 2050. 


  • One of the key features of the EU's engagement in the Sahel is that it is based on a genuinely integrated approach; this means that the full range of instruments at our disposal has been mobilized within the framework of the EU Sahel Strategy for Security and Development and its accompanying Regional Action Plan.


  • We have achieved this by using the following:
    • Diplomatic action by our EUSR for the Sahel covering also the development of a strategic partnership with the G5 Sahel; this was deemed necessary since this partnership is essential for further strengthening the regional political dialogue and establishing a closer cooperation and joint responses to migration, security and other challenges in the Sahel.
    • The long-term development assistance through the National and Regional Indicative Programmes, through which substantial amounts have been committed; EUR 8 billion EU and Member States combined in the period 2015 to 2020.
    • The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace provided EUR 40 million in 2017 for crisis response measures.
    • The CSDP-missions which have all been adapted to the political priorities of the EU, notably the mobilisation against irregular migration and related smuggling and trafficking. In addition, with the current regionalisation of the CSDP-missions we aim at enhancing national capacities of the G5 Sahel countries, to support cross-border cooperation and to support regional cooperation structures, in particular those of G5 Sahel, including the Joint Force.
    • Humanitarian aid which continues to increase in view of the significant dimension of the humanitarian crisis in terms of food and nutrition [number to be inserted].
    • The establishment of the “European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa” at the Valletta Summit in November 2015, which has become a key tool for achieving key EU strategic objectives in the Sahel and which has now approved activities for more than EUR 1 billion.


  • Our European efforts are essentially aimed at creating a ‘belt of stability’ in the Sahel. As many of the challenges have a regional and cross-border character we will increase our focus on the neighbouring Maghreb region to the north and the Lake Chad Basin to the south.


  • With regard to the Sahel Alliance the EU is a strong supporter of its aim to contribute to better coordinated, swifter and faster development aid and tangible results.


  • It is important that it builds on already existing structures and is open to all Member States and other partners like the US who are willing to join the initiative.


  • It is particularly important that full ownership and buy-in from the G5 Sahel countries are ensured. In this framework the organization of a Round Table to mobilise ressources for the G5 Sahel Priority Investment Program could be instrumental.
Editorial Sections: