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Institute of Development Studies (IDS)

The European Union in Africa:
The linkage between security, governance and development from an institutional perspective

Niagalй Bagoyoko and Marie V. Gibert

Institute of Development Studies (IDS)

May 2007

SARPN acknowledges IDS as a source of this document:
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The international community has been, over the last two decades, developing a holistic approach to development that stresses the linkage between security, good governance and economic development. The idea that drives this triangular approach is that development can only be achieved in a secure and democratic environment, conducive to long-term investments. This evolution can be traced back to the early 1990s, when political conditionality was added to what were formerly essentially economic development programmes (Robinson 1993). Shortly thereafter, a security dimension was added to the ‘good governance–economic development’ nexus, which came with a new diagnosis. It is now assumed that conflict and under-development are rooted in state failure and that in order to prevent future crises, state weakness must be addressed through broad institutional reforms. The international community thus attempts to ‘bring the state back in’,1 i.e. to re-establish its authority through capacity-building reforms.

The risks and limits entailed by this type of holistic approach are increasingly highlighted. Some argue, in particular, that the merging of development and security programmes is likely to promote a more military-based approach to development programmes, thus underlining the growing risk that traditional military assistance be included in development budgets (Chвtaigner 2004; Duffield 2001). Others question the uncritically accepted link between democracy and political stability, insisting that democratisation often brings about instability and can thus jeopardise a state’s developmental strategy (Mansfield and Snyder 1995).

In spite of such reservations, the above-described understanding of the links between development, good governance and security clearly informs the European Union’s policy agenda in Africa. Through the so-called ‘multi-functional approach’ outlined in the European Security Strategy2 – the so-called ‘Solana Document’, adopted in December 2003 – the EU is also promoting a holistic approach, where security, economic development and democracy are seen as essential contributions to the generation of political stability in the EU’s international environment. In doing so, the EU positions itself as a major actor on the international scene, one that can propose a multi-dimensional approach to crisis management and therefore claim the status of international power (Bretherton and Vogler 1999; Piening 1997; Soeterdorp 1999). The EU insists on its added value as a multi-institutional organisation likely to provide all types of crisis management tools – civilian and military as well as humanitarian – within a unique framework. Because of the multiplicity of the problems it is facing – war, poverty, humanitarian catastrophes, etc. – the African continent fits with this multi-functional approach.

This case study of the EU security policy in Africa shows that the linkage between security, governance and development relies for a large part on institutional dynamics. This paper will therefore focus on these dynamics and on the bureaucratic affiliations of the concerned EU actors, notwithstanding the fact that the EU’s security agenda in Africa is also clearly determined by African realities. African security can be seen as a field where EU actors are improving their institutional capacities: in fact, EU African security policy is often driven by internal power relations. The importance of these institutional dynamics can be seen through a threefold process:

  • First, African security is a field likely to provide a new legitimacy for development policies led by the European Community (EC), which is responsible for the management of first pillar3 activities;
  • Second, African security is a field of experimentation for the institutional actors responsible for the definition and implementation of the CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policy) – the so-called second pillar;
  • Third, African security is a field of Europeanisation for traditionally bilateral member-state security policies.
In fact, the consistency and the credibility of the EU security policy in Africa will depend on the convergence between these three processes.

  1. This is in reference to the edited volume by Evans et al. (1985).
  2. Council of the European Union, A Secure Europe in a Better World: European Security Strategy, drafted under the responsibilities of EU High Representative Javier Solana, 12 December 2003.
  3. The concept of pillars is generally used in connection with the Treaty on European Union, signed in Amsterdam on 2 October 1997. Three pillars form the basic structure of the European Union, namely:
    • The first or ‘Community’ pillar concerns economic, social and environmental policies.
    • The second or ‘Common Foreign and Security Policy’ (CFSP) pillar concerns foreign policy and military matters.
    • The third or ‘Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters’ (PJCC) pillar concerns cooperation in the fight against crime.
    The three pillars function on the basis of different decision-making procedures: the Community procedure for the first pillar, and the intergovernmental procedure for the other two. In the case of the first pillar, only the Commission can submit proposals to the Council and Parliament, and a qualified majority is sufficient for a Council act to be adopted. In the case of the second and third pillars, this right of initiative is shared between the Commission and the member-states ,and unanimity in the Council is generally necessary.

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