EU roles in constructin}’ spatial order (s) in and beyond West Africa

As has become clear, interventions in West/Africa can hardly be understood without taking into account ‘external’ actors and interests. Most important in this regard have been EU actors, who have intervened in West/Africa, among other objectives pursuing specific security agendas (cf. Gegout 2017), but also to develop and consolidate their own regional policies and regional space (see Chapter 5). Consequently, it is important also to consider how EU actors have contributed to spatial ordering in West/Africa.

First, EU actors have ordered space, in West/Africa and elsewhere, through different funding instruments, which in addition to thematic logics (e.g.,

Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, IcSP, or European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, EIDHR) also follow spatial, especially regional, logics. Much of the money of the European Development Fund (EDF) is dedicated to different regional indicative programs (RIPs), which include regions such as ‘West Africa’, but also, for example, the ACP’, and the ‘African Countries with Portuguese as an Official Language’ (going by the Portuguese acronym PALOP). Guinea-Bissau, for example, has received EU money through the RIPs of all of the above, at some point.39 Some of these RIPs have dedicated regional organizations administering their implementation. For West Africa, this has been ECOWAS and UEMOA40 (cf. EU Commission 2015), exerting influence although not necessarily control over continuously increasing RIP budgets (cf. Piccolino and Minou 2014, 12-13), for the period 2014—20 amounting to 1.15 billion euros (cf. ECOWAS, EU and UEMOA 2014). These have included equally increasing EU support specifically to ECOWAS as an organization, building capacity at the ECOWAS Commission and supporting specific policy projects (e.g., anti-drug trafficking; see below).41 In this way, actors at the EU directly contribute to constructing both ECOWAS as an organization and a regional space - according to a particular vision of what ‘ECOWAS’ should be and do, as discussed below.

At the same time that EU actors have sought to increase ECOWAS’ capacity directly, and increase its ability as a regional security actor, however, they have also supported a hierarchical vision of the spatial organization of African Peace and Security (i.e., APSA, and its ‘geography’; cf. Doling 2018). According to this vision, the AU (specifically the AU PSC) stands at the top, in charge of its subsidiary, sub-regional organizations and mechanisms (i.e., the RECs and Regional Mechanisms). In this regard, it has been especially the African Peace Facility (APF), also coming out of the EDF, which has funded peace support operations by African organizations, supporting the hierarchical APSA geography, and thereby affecting power relations between the RECs and the AU in favor of the latter. According to the APF rules and procedures, the AU has a certain budget that it can use as it sees fit (although EU officers still have to sign off) and that it can also forward to the RECs (e.g., for peace operations). In addition, RECs can apply directly for APF funds. However, the AU leadership has to endorse those applications.42 In both cases, these rules and procedures strengthen AU actors as gatekeepers vis-à-vis the RECs (cf. EU Commission 2017).43 What becomes clear at this point is that the EU’s approaches to supporting African ROs and APSA have not always been coherent and coordinated.

Second, supporting the West African RO prominently and directly, EU actors have carried a particular imagination of ECOWAS - what it should be and do, covering the space of ‘West Africa’, and how it should relate to other spaces. This has become clearly visible in the case of Guinea-Bissau, in the clash between ECOWAS and EU actors after the coup in April 2012 (see Chapter 1 ), and more recently, with inverted roles since 2015. In 2012, the EU’s previous, failed SSR experience in Guinea-Bissau led EU actors to respond to the coup d’état extraordinarily swiftly, suspending all support involving government institutions, very much unlike previous reactions to similar situations in the country (cf. Dôring and Herpolsheimer 2016). Consequently, they were upset when ECOWAS decided to break out of the initial international consensus, openly criticizing the move (ICG 2012; Kohl 2013), and refused to support ECOWAS and ECOM IB financially through the APE Interestingly, since 2015, EU actors (along with other international actors) have continued to push for a continuation of the mission, offering financial support, while actors at ECOWAS have seemed more and more determined to withdraw (see Chapter 4). Following the clash between the two organizations in 2012, it has been the need for a regional partner to address the situation in Mali and the Sahel that has persuaded EU actors to soften their opposition to ECOWAS’ approach in Guinea-Bissau, eventually (see ICG 2012; Kohl 2013; Security Council Report 2012a, 9).

Another strategy that EU actors have applied when their imagination of ‘ECOWAS’ has not been met in reality - complementing the carrots-and-sticks approach - has been the ‘sub-contracting’ of different implementing agencies, such as, for example, the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) or the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In both cases, the EU Commission and/or EU member states have spent large amounts of money either to develop ECOWAS norms and capacities according to the EU’s vision (e.g., as in the Support Program for the ECOWAS Commission, implemented by the GIZ; cf. GIZ 2019) or to have someone else do the job ‘for’ ECOWAS, maintaining the ‘ECOWAS' label. For example, the latter has been the case with the ECOWAS Support Project implemented by UNODC, also known as “Support to ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on illicit drug trafficking, organized crime related to it and drug abuse in West Africa” (UNODC 2019). In both cases, framing their activities as ‘regional’ and tying them to ‘ECOWAS’ has allowed the two organizations to access significant amounts of funding.44

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