The EU, Algeria and the northern Mali question

The EU needs to develop a more effective relationship with Algeria

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As the Malian Prime Minister resigns under pressure from the country’s military, and the situation in northern Mali poses a growing threat to security in the Sahel and beyond, discussions at international level on intervention are become increasingly urgent.

Neighbouring Algeria, viewed as critical to the success of any intervention because of its intelligence on the Islamist groups involved in the takeover in northern Mali, is reluctant to support a UN mandated intervention in its immediate neighbourhood.  

The EU yesterday agreed to send a training mission in support of an African led operation. But as focus on the Mali question moves power away from Brussels, and back to the European capitals, EU attempts this year to establish a more effective relationship with Algiers could be in jeopardy.

In ECFR’s new policy memo, “EU, Algeria and the northern Mali question” Susi Dennison argues that the EU and its member states should pool their resources in a joint European approach to keep Algeria engaged with the EU:

  • A more coherent approach: The EU must make itself more visible in Algeria, with more member states strengthening their relationships with Algeria as part of a cohesive EU strategy towards the region.
  • Algeria as a security partner: The EU needs to develop a more strategic approach to Algeria especially if an intervention in Mali is on the cards. To support CDSP efforts in the region, the EU should appoint a three star general as a Special Security Representative to the Southern Mediterranean
  • Develop more economic incentives: Europe should encourage Algeria to reduce red tape and tackle corruption in order to diversify its economy and increase inward investment.
  • Promote intra-regional trade: The EU should encourage and facilitate closer trade links between the countries of north Africa.

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.

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