16 The EU and the Sahel: EUCAP Sahel
|Council Decision amending Decision 2012/392/CFSP on the European Union CSDP Mission in Niger (EUCAP Sahel Niger)
|Legal base||Articles 28, 42(4) and 43(2) TEU; unanimity
|Department||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration||EM and Minister's letter of 17 October 2013
|Previous Committee Report||None; but see (35170) : HC 83-xii (2013-14), chapter 22 (17 July 2013); also see (35108) : HC 83-viii (2013-14), chapter 21 (3 July 2013) and (34063) : HC 86-viii (2012-13), chapter 18 (11 July 2012); and (35009) : HC 83-viii (2013-14), chapter 18 (3 July 2013)
|Discussion in Council||Before 31 October 2013
|Committee's assessment||Politically important
|Committee's decision||Cleared; further information requested
16.1 Council Decision 2012/392/CFSP established an
EU civilian Common Security and Defence (CSDP) Mission for Niger
to build the capacity of Nigerien security forces to fight terrorism
and organised crime. EUCAP Sahel Niger was launched in July 2012,
and is mandated for two years until July 2014. The budget for
the first year of the mission was set at 8,700,000. The
background and full details are set out in our 2012 Report under
reference. It has
five main tasks:
advise and assist in the implementation
of the security dimension of the Nigerien Strategy for Security
and Development at national level (assessing gaps in capability
and capacity and designing a training strategy to address them;
working to develop and upgrade the interoperability and coordination
mechanism within the "Service Central de lutte contre
le terrorisme" (SCLCT) to fight terrorism by providing
equipment and training;
support the development of regional and
international coordination in the fight against terrorism and
organised crime, in particular by working with the "Collège
Sahélien de Sécurité" and other
develop and implement adequate criminal
investigation training programmes utilising a "train the
trainer" approach in subjects such as forensics, interview
techniques, evidence handling, police tactics, human rights and
the rule of law;
support the development of Nigerien Security
Forces resilience by developing a Human Resources strategy and
providing training in management issues; and
contribute to the identification, planning
and implementation of projects in the security field.
16.2 The Council Decision that we considered at our
meeting on 3 July extended the current budget for three months
until 31 October 2013.
16.3 We concluded that this was shaping up to be
a case study in how not to organise a CSDP mission politically
driven by the former colonial power with, because of the rushed
launch, little preparatory work with the Nigerien authorities
to define their needs properly, which had effectively meant a
16.4 The failure of prior assurances from the local
political leadership to materialise had plainly not helped. But
that failure inevitably cast doubt on the indication of support
and undertaking now given by the Nigerien prime minister.
16.5 Furthermore, lack of local buy-in was also not
peculiar to this mission see the latest report on the
EU Mission on Regional Maritime Capacity Building in the Horn
of Africa (EUCAP NESTOR), which we considered elsewhere in our
3 July Report.
16.6 Moreover, this was by no means the first mission
that Member States had agreed to set up, and then not played their
part, by not seconding the relevant staff. We therefore asked
the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) also to update us
on the secondment of staff by Member States and recruitment by
16.7 So far as the end-state and exit strategy was
concerned, the wording used by the Minister could have been applied
as easily to the ISAF deployment in Afghanistan as to this mission:
in other words, rather than the unambiguous, tightly-defined,
end-state and exit strategy that the Committee advocated, it was
effectively open-ended unless one or more Member States disagreed.
Given the underperformance thus far, it was almost inevitable
that there would be strong pressure to extend the mandate beyond
the middle of 2014.
16.8 The Minister had also still not provided any
information on what the effective benchmarks and indicators of
success were that he was confident had been put in place from
the outset. When he came to submit his next EM in October, we
again asked that he set them out and indicated how they would
inform the strategic review process to which he referred.
16.9 In the meantime, we cleared the draft Council
16.10 Then, on 17 July, we considered a further Council
Decision concerning the signing and conclusion of a Status of
Mission Agreement (SOMA) between the European Union and the Republic
of Niger on the status of EUCAP Sahel Niger.
16.11 The SOMA had taken nearly a year to negotiate.
It was, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) said, designed
to set out a clear and binding understanding between the Government
of Niger and the EU on the status of the mission and its personnel.
The Minister welcomed it, was content with its terms, and considered
that this would ensure that EUCAP Sahel Niger would be able to
operate more effectively by reducing practical obstacles to its
activities in country (see paragraphs 21.18-21.21 of our Eighth
Report for further detail and comment).
Our further assessment
16.12 Such Status of Mission Agreements do not normally
warrant a substantive Report to the House: as the Minister noted,
they all follow a well-established template, with the details
reflecting local considerations. However, the process in this
instance had not only had a significant impact on mission performance
thus far but also has wider implications.
16.13 One of four CSDP missions that we considered
on 3 July was the Rule of Law Mission in Iraq. We had been pressing
the Minister for indications of when the EEAS would carry out
a final VFM and lessons-learned assessment: in the meantime, the
Minister provided some details of the FCO's own assessment, including
some "key lessons" especially the importance
of understanding the host cultural environment and the need to
secure a Status of Mission agreement especially for launching
a mission in a high-risk environment. As this and the experience
of the other missions in question indicated, the most important
variable is local "buy-in"; and much of that is embodied
in the SOMA.
16.14 It was accordingly reassuring that the Crisis
Management Procedures would now recommend that the EEAS starts
negotiations at an earlier stage for future missions. However,
the Minister said nothing about the need in future also to guard
against political pressure over-riding and conflating other key
stages in the planning process. We therefore noted that we would
expect the Minister to ensure that this, too, does not happen
16.15 We cleared the Council Decision and reminded
the Minister of the need for a full and timely submission of the
Council Decision on the next part of the mission budget.
The draft Council Decision
16.16 This further Council Decision sets out a new
budget of 6.5 million to cover the remainder of the mandate,
from 1 November 2013 to July 2014.
The Government's view
16.17 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 17 October
2013, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) says that,
since his last Explanatory Memoranda in June and July, events
in the Sahel region, particularly in Mali, have moved forward
positively; and that in Niger, too, the EUCAP-Sahel mission is
at last starting to deliver. The Minister very much welcomes this
development, which he says is due to a number of factors.
"The Status of Mission Agreement (SOMA) relating
to this mission has now been signed and an Explanatory Memorandum
setting out why this was important was sent on 11 July 2013. The
Mission is now starting to reap the benefits of clearly defined
roles and responsibilities, and local buy in is starting to improve.
"One example of this is the Comite de Pilotage,
or Steering Board, which held its first meeting on 11 September,
chaired by the Prime Minister, M. Brigi Rafini. All board members,
including the Minister of the Interior, the Head of the EU Delegation
and Heads of Member State Diplomatic Missions, as well as the
Head of EUCAP Sahel Niger attended. They assessed activities already
carried out by EUCAP and discussed provisional future activities.
The fact that such high level attendance has been secured in this
new institutional structure demonstrates the improved level of
political buy-in from the government of Niger.
"Priorities will be set and an action plan developed
in time for the next Steering Group meeting which will take place
in October. One area identified for further work in the coming
months was provision of equipment, where the mission is now focusing
"The Mission is also focussing its efforts on
training in the conduct of operations and criminal investigation
capacities as well as supporting the development of mechanisms
for interoperability between actors involved in the fight against
terrorism and organised crime.
"In addition to top level buy in, operational-level
cooperation is also working better. At the top level the EU Delegation
is including mission personnel in senior meetings with the Nigerien
authorities and initial tensions with the Instrument for Stability
project, and with the EU's CT Sahel programme, have been ironed
out and they are now delivering joint training with the mission.
"EUCAP is also looking at ways to work more
closely with Interpol's EU funded West Africa Police Information
System (WAPIS) project, an IT system to encourage regional information
"Operationally, the mission is now starting
to deliver. The mission is working with seven regional mixed Command
Posts, made up of members of the National Guard, the Gendarmerie
and the National Police, to improve coordination, to reinforce
their capacities to maintain order and investigate crime and to
prevent, plan and react to operational crises. Work to raise their
profile and importance with local authorities and to train and
provide infrastructure is seen as a priority for the Nigerien
government and consequently there is strong local ownership of
"The mission has also been making good progress
on training for the Technical and Scientific Police, who focus
on crime scene investigation and forensics. The mission has devised
a programme whereby recruits receive an initial training course
in the classroom, followed by on the job training.
"Training started at the beginning of 2013 and
first results have shown a quick uptake of training and an increasing
Nigerien demand for training. To date, 145 students from the police,
448 from the Gendarmerie and 175 sub-officers from the National
Guard have undertaken training in protection of crime scenes and
preservation of evidence. Work is ongoing to put in place centralised
structures and to develop evaluation tools as well as looking
to adapt training and ensure that techniques learned are embedded
in daily work."
16.18 Less positively, however, the Minister says:
"However, in spite of the operational progress,
there are still outstanding issues to be resolved. The mission
is still seriously under-manned as the EEAS are having difficulties
filling vacant positions, both contracted and seconded, particularly
for Mission Support. About half the positions from the latest
Call for Contributions have been filled, mostly administrative
contracted positions and a new Call for Contributions will soon
be issued. The current Head of Mission will be leaving on 31 October
and recruitment is underway for his replacement. The Deputy Head,
who is extremely capable, has agreed to act up until the new Head
arrives in Niamey.
"Provision of equipment for the security forces
is another issue that may need to be revisited. Sources of funding
for equipment are not being sufficiently tapped. Both the mission
and the EEAS could be working more closely with other actors,
including Member States and other EU instruments to acquire equipment
and to better deconflict activity, thereby ensuring the best effect
of international effort."
16.19 The Minister then turns to what he describes
as the Committee's "interest in issues around benchmarking
and progression/achievements of the mission", as follows:
"The Operational Plan (OPlan) for the mission
sets out the objectives and tasks for the mission and the benchmarks
by which the mission will be evaluated. For each task, the OPlan
sets out the current position, the "Objectively Verifiable
Indicator" or the position the EU would like to attain by
the end of the mission and how it will measure the progress made.
"For example, one of the tasks of the mission,
set out under the OPlan, is to support the Nigerien Authorities
to put in place a national intelligence model for criminal investigations,
which can be rolled out to all intelligence functions in due course.
Currently, the intelligence bureaux operate very separately and
there is little confidence between the agencies. There is no centralised
organisation or model for criminal intelligence. The technology
to manage intelligence and the training capacity is very limited.
The mission has identified the development and adoption of interservice
accords for the exchange of criminal intelligence as the principal
way the mission can contribute to this task. The mission will
monitor progress in this area through regular evaluation and analysis
of the exchange of intelligence and the initiatives in operational
16.20 The Minister notes that the proposed budget
represents a pro rata increase of 5% on the previous budget
of 8.7 million, and provides a detailed comparison of the
new budget with the previous budget, which is set out in the Annex
to this chapter of our Report.
The Minister's letter of 17 October 2013
16.21 The Minister says that he agrees with the thrust
of the Committee's comments in its report of 3 July: "the
Niger mission was not meeting our legitimate expectations. It
had been slow to establish itself, slow to begin delivering activity
and slow to engage with its hosts in Niamey".
16.22 The Minister then continues as follows:
"We took action to address this unsatisfactory
situation. We told the External Action Service and key partners
plainly that we were unhappy with the mission. In part as a result
of that intervention, changes to the direction of the mission
have been made. These changes have fed rapidly through to a more
activist and organised approach on the ground.
"We have also helped the EEAS to revise the
mission's budget. The UK's rigorous analysis identified savings
of around 10% in operational budgets. We also queried the project
budget, as we feel the mission will need to perform exceedingly
well to deliver all the projects it has set out. However, the
new leadership has said that it wishes to work to challenging
objectives, which is all to the good as we do want to see energetic
delivery. To maintain oversight of the project work we have insisted
on a review of spending in four months."
16.23 With regard to "the bigger picture",
the Minister then says:
"My overall assessment is that the changes which
needed to be made in Niamey have been made and the mission is
now on track to deliver against clear goals. Delivery in Niger
is strong and the mission's emerging thinking about regional approaches
to the continuing instability in the Sahel is pragmatic. That
does not of course excuse the fact that time was wasted and resources
mismanaged in the first six or nine months of the mission's operation.
"A key lesson to be learned from the Niger process
is that rushed planning leads to poor mission performance. The
EEAS believed that the conflation of conceptual and operational
planning could be managed; that assessment proved to be over-optimistic.
Since it has become plain that accelerated planning in Niger was
counter-productive, I have acted to prevent recurrences. I applied
the brakes to the EUBAM mission in Libya and instructed officials
to ensure that the launch of a civilian mission in Mali
which was envisaged by an EEAS options paper published before
the summer was delayed until proper planning was complete.
The EEAS has not yet reverted with a new options paper. I am expecting
the options paper to set out plans to develop civilian Malian
security capabilities, in parallel with the military enhancement
being delivered by EUTM.
"On a separate matter, you may be interested
to hear that a complete review of the process of selection of
all civilian CSDP Heads of Mission is underway. The review usefully
allows us to raise a number of our own concerns about the skills
which CSDP leaders need. We are pressing to ensure that selection
is competence-based: that Heads are appointed only when they have
project and human resource management expertise, as well as geographical
16.24 Looking ahead, the Minister then says:
"I would also like to brief you on the probable
future track of CSDP work in the Sahel. We will need to make three
decisions about the structure of CSDP in that region over the
next six months: whether to renew the mandate of EUCAP Sahel Niger,
whether to grant a second mandate to EUTM Mali and whether to
agree to the launch of another civilian mission in Mali. Your
Committee will of course be consulted prior to each of those decisions.
If you would like to discuss them individually or in the round,
my officials are as always at your disposal. To ensure that we
are fully engaged in important discussions of Sahel policy from
the outset, I have authorised officials to have discussions in
Paris and Brussels about these three decisions."
16.25 Finally, the Minister says:
"I will write to you again shortly about our
priorities for the December European Council discussion on Defence
and Cathy Ashton's Final Report on proposals and actions to strengthen
CSDP, which has just been shared with Member States."
16.26 We are grateful to the Minister for his
very helpful Explanatory Memorandum and letter. It demonstrates,
not for the first time, the leading, sometimes solitary and commendable
role he and his officials have in driving down the cost of CSDP
16.27 Despite the welcome indications of progress,
it has nonetheless taken a year to reach this point. Moreover,
as the Minister notes, the mission is still seriously under-staffed.
Also, his comments about funding for equipment not being sufficiently
tapped, that both the mission and the EEAS could be working more
closely with other actors, and that there is soon to be a change,
suggest that the mission has suffered from inadequate leadership.
16.28 This is borne out by the news that there
is to be a complete review of the process of selection of all
civilian CSDP Heads of Mission: we agree with the Minister that
project and human resource management expertise, as well as geographical
experience, should be pre-conditions for selection, and will expect
to see that those "boxes" have been "ticked"
when proposals for future missions are put forward.
16.29 It will be obvious from our earlier Reports
that we agree with the Minister that the key lesson to be learned
from the Niger process is that rushed planning leads to poor mission
performance. It is accordingly gratifying that he has instructed
officials to ensure that the launch of any civilian mission in
Mali is delayed until proper planning is complete. However,
it is not just the launch stage that needs to be properly planned:
both the Niger process and elsewhere have shown that it is in
many ways the last stage the SOMA that is the
most important. As the Minister notes, in the absence of the
clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and clear local buy
in, embodied in the SOMA, time was wasted and resources mismanaged
in the first six or nine months of the mission's operation.
This cannot be allowed to happen again, especially when it comes
to a civilian mission in Mali, or more widely .
16.30 We appreciate the Minister's offer to discuss
this and the renewal of the two extant missions, EUCAP Sahel and
EUTM Mali: however, as he knows, we can only operate on the basis
of public documents. We therefore look to him to keep us informed
in writing as these processes take shape, and to ensure that any
proposals for a new mission and/or for mandate extensions are
submitted for scrutiny in time for any questions arising to be
pursued with him and, if necessary, debated, before any Council
Decisions are adopted.
16.31 On the wider issue of the Government's priorities
for the December European Council discussion on Defence and the
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
and Vice-President of the Commission's (Baroness Ashton) Final
Report on proposals and actions to strengthen CSDP, we refer the
Minister to the Conclusion of our 4 September 2013 Report on the
2012 Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament
on the main aspects and basic choices of the CFSP.
16.32 As noted there, on the eve of the summer
recess, having heard nothing from him, we wrote to the Minister
regarding the proposals that the 27-28 May Foreign Affairs Council
asked to be prepared for the December European Council on: increasing
the effectiveness, visibility and impact of the CSDP; enhancing
the development of defence capabilities; and strengthening Europe's
defence industry matters, we said, that should be subject
to scrutiny prior to the December European Council. As was plain
from his response of 2 August 2013,
major issues are to be discussed in the coming months
most immediately, Baroness Ashton's formal proposals for the December
European Council discussion on defence to which he now refers.
He then expected them in September. Given the slippage, it is
all the more important that he share them with the Committee as
soon as possible. As we said in September, and pace
the Minister in his 2 August letter, we can see no reason why
this document should be classified on the contrary, it
should be open to the widest discussion. We therefore look to
him to deposit it with an Explanatory Memorandum in the normal
16.33 In the meantime, we now clear the Council
70 See headnote: (34063) -: HC 86-viii (2012-13),
chapter 18 (11 July 2012). Back
See headnote: (35108) -: HC 83-viii (2013-14), chapter 21 (3
July 2013). Back
See headnote: (35170) -: HC 83-xii (2013-14), chapter 21 (17
July 2013). Back
See (35266) -: HC 83-xiii (2013-14), chapter 49 (4 September
Which is reproduced at the Annex to the chapter of our 4 September
2013 Report that dealt with the recently published, and related,
Commission Communication on A more competitive and efficient
defence and security sector: see (35234) 12773/13: HC 83-xiii
(2013-14), chapter 23 (4 September 2013). Back