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Briefing Notes (series)

The Mali Crisis and Africa-Europe Relations

Briefing Note 52

This page is also available in: French

June 2013

Helly, D., Rocca, C. 2013. The Mali crisis and Africa-Europe relations. (ECDPM Briefing Note 52).

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On 15 May 2013 in Brussels, a donors’ conference “for a new Mali” was organised by the European Union (EU) and France, in close collaboration with the Malian government. The current crisis in Mali and Sahel has peaked in 2013, following several years of deterioration unnoticed outside the region. Given the complexity of the crisis and the strong involvement of African states and regional organisations (the Regional Economic Communities – RECs), what has been happening in this part of Africa is likely to impact on Europe-Africa relations for some time. Indeed, it puts a number of international arrangements to a new test: the comprehensiveness and coherence of EU’s external action, the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), and subsequently, the nature, ambition and depth of Africa-Europe and African
RECs-Europe relations.

This note looks at the implications of the Malian crises for the relations between Africa and Europe, one year ahead of the next Africa-Europe summit in Brussels in 2014. Its starting point is the challenge posed by multiple and intertwined crises in Mali and the combination of factors which led to a coup in Mali in 2012: old development inequalities between the North and the South, absence of key infrastructure, the failure of aid through budget support, widespread corruption, a doomed governance system in Bamako, long lasting grievances from Northern Malian populations, foreign interventions responding and/or fuelling insecurity, organised crime and terrorism. It builds on existing detailed and field-based analysis of the crisis itself (with three focal areas around Gao, Timbuktu, Kidal) and of the role of armed groups and forces (marked by volatile alliances between the Mouvement National de Libération de L’Azawad (MNLA), Mouvement pour le Tawhîd et du Jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (MUJAO), Ansar Eddine, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other non-state groups, conflicting with French, Malian, Chadian, Nigerian and other African government troops, not to mention militia.

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This briefing note is also available in French. 

Photo courtesy of Division géographique de la Direction des Archives du Ministère des Affaires étrangères.

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Conflict, Security and ResilienceStrengthening European External ActionBriefing Notes (series)Regional Economic Communities (RECs)Mali