Performing EU agency by experimenting the ‘Comprehensive Approach’: the European Union Sahel Strategy

Elisa Lopez Lucia

Journal of Contemporary African Studies. June 2017


This article examines how the European Union (EU) Strategy for security and development in the Sahel has been used as a ‘laboratory of experimentation’ for the implementation of the Comprehensive Approach. In this context, it looks at how power struggles at the discursive and praxis levels are performing the international agency of the EU. These struggles are played out by EU officials based in different institutions who are seeking to assert their role in the EU foreign policy process and to promote their vision for the EU in the world. The attempt to re-define the EU as a strategic actor which lies at the heart of the Comprehensive Approach is also transforming the EU’s relations with West Africa (WA) and raises some issues that concern the political agency of West African partners. The last section shows that the Sahel Strategy has undermined local ownership and has the potential to cripple the process of regional integration in WA.


This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.