Documents considered by the Committee on 21 July 2015 - European Scrutiny Contents


69 The EU and the Sahel: EUCAP Sahel Niger

Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decisionCleared from scrutiny; relevant to the floor of the House debate on migration issues and the EU naval operation in the south central Mediterranean
Document detailsCouncil Decision on the European Union CSDP mission in Niger (EUCAP Sahel Niger)
Legal baseArticles 28, 42(4) and 43(2) TEU; unanimity
Department

Document number

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

(36945), —

Summary and Committee's conclusions

69.1 The crisis in Mali, instability in Libya and Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria are all threatening Niger's security and development. In addition, the country is faced with the illegal trafficking of drugs, weapons and people on its territory. Some of this organised crime serves to fund terrorist groups which are using Niger's vast desert regions as trafficking routes or safe havens.

69.2 Council Decision 2012/392/CFSP established EUCAP Sahel Niger, to build the capacity of Nigerien security forces to fight terrorism and organised crime. It was launched in July 2012, and is currently "mandated" until July 2016. 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;

—  support the development of regional and international coordination in the fight against terrorism and organised crime;

—  develop and implement adequate criminal investigation training programmes utilising a "train the trainer" approach;

—  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.[ 489]

69.3 This draft Council Decision proposes a budget for July 2015-July 2016 of €9,800,000 (£6,964,000). EUCAP will continue to assist the Nigerien authorities to define and implement their National Security Strategy and contribute to improving the capacities of Nigerien security forces in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.

69.4 The mission performed poorly at first but, following a change of leadership and focus, delivery has steadily improved (see "Background" below).

69.5 The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) supports the proposal. He describes EUCAP Sahel Niger as an increasingly important EU presence in the Sahel, both as a guided to recently-established civilian CSDP Mission in Mali and as a crucial actor in the effort to tackle the flow of migrants northwards from Sub-Saharan Africa to Libya and on to the Mediterranean. Whilst it is necessary to be realistic about what this Mission can achieve in the wide desert spaces of Niger, the Minister agrees that the EU should do more on upstream migration work in the Sahel, and that EUCAP should be an important instrument in this area.

69.6 In their first Report on this mission, our predecessors noted that it demonstrated, not for the first time, the leading, sometimes solitary, and commendable role the Minister and his officials have had in controlling the cost of CSDP missions; we are pleased to be able to commend them once again.

69.7 The Minister notes that, in the context of the growing migration crisis in the Mediterranean and North Africa, plans to strengthen EUCAP's activity on migration — including in the northern Nigerien town of Agadez — are currently in hand. This additional migration activity will (as he says) also require a Council Decision and a further revised budget, which we look forward to receiving in good time.

69.8 At that juncture, as well as a detailed outline of this proposed additional migration-related activity, we should be grateful if the Minister would say more about what the Mission has been doing during the past year (since his summary — "EUCAP Sahel Niger has so far trained over 2,500 members of the security forces, armed forces, civil service and judiciary" — is precisely the same as that of a year ago).

69.9 On 23 April an Extraordinary European Council agreed a number of actions, including:

·  disrupting trafficking networks, bringing the perpetrators to justice and seizing their assets, through swift action by Member State authorities in co-operation with EUROPOL, FRONTEX, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and EUROJUST, as well as through increased intelligence and police-cooperation with third countries;

·  undertaking systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers; and

·  preparing for a possible CSDP operation to this effect.

69.10 That CSDP operation is now moving ahead, in the shape of EUNAVFOR Med, whose job will be to "disrupt the business model of the smugglers, achieved by undertaking systematic efforts to identify, seize/ capture and destroy vessels and assets before they are used by smugglers".[ 490] We deal with this and other aspects of the EU's response to the growing migration crisis in a separate Report, where we are recommending that they should be debated on the floor of the House. Given that disrupting "the business model of the smugglers" will also depend on the ability and willingness of Nigerien security forces to interdict them, we consider that this chapter of this Report be "tagged" to that debate.

69.11 In the meantime, we clear this Council Decision.

69.12 Given that the Committee was not in existence at the point at which the budget would otherwise have run out, we do not take issue with the Minister having over-ridden scrutiny.

Full details of the documents: Council Decision amending Decision 2012/392/CFSP on the European Union CSDP mission in Niger (EUCAP Sahel Niger): (36945), —.

Background

69.13 The first year's budget was €8.7 million (£6.2 million); the second year's, €9.2 million (£6.5 million). The mission got off to a slow start, largely due to a rushed planning process, lack of local buy-in and inadequate leadership. It began to pick up speed in its second year; so much so that, in March 2014, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) was able to report that the Mission was now delivering against its mandate, and that an EEAS Strategic Review had recommended extending the mandate for a further two years, from 17 July 2014, with the Mission being roughly the same size, retaining its current structure and costing a similar amount to now, with some small changes to the current tasks. Niger remained a fragile democracy in an increasingly volatile region; elections were due in 2015-2016, and a visible EU presence at least until then would increase the chances of a smooth poll.[ 491]

69.14 The draft Council Decision cleared by our predecessors in July 2014 thus extended the mandate for two years to July 2016, with a budget covering the period July 2014 to July 2015. The Minister said that EUCAP Sahel Niger had now trained over 2,500 members of the Nigerien security forces, armed forces, civil service and judiciary. He described the mission's work on improving the services' human resource and forensic capabilities as having been particularly successful; likewise its work to co-ordinate EUCAP's activity with that of other international actors in Niger (the latter led by the UK secondee in the Mission).

69.15 EUCAP would continue to assist the Nigerien authorities to define and implement their National Security Strategy and contribute to improving the capacities of Nigerien security actors in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. The Mission gained 11 new staff[ 492] and would expand its activity in some areas, including additional visits to the northern town of Agadez. Despite this, and (so said the Minister) as a result of UK lobbying, the Mission's budget for July 2014-July 2015 showed a very small decrease compared to the previous year's budget, principally due to savings on capital expenditure.[ 493]

The draft Council Decision

69.16 This draft Council Decision extends the budget, covering the period 16 July 2015 to 15 July 2016. The proposed budget is €9,800,000 (£6,964,000)0 (see the Annex to this chapter of our Report for the Minister's detailed analysis).

The Government's view

69.17 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 22 June 2015, the Minister says that his officials "have interrogated the budget" and that he judges the proposed expenditure "to be commensurate with delivery of the mandate and good value for money".

69.18 Recalling the slow start, the Minister says that, following a change of leadership and "a focus on bottom-up projects", delivery has steadily improved. He again notes that co-ordination between the EUCAP and other international actors (led by the UK secondee), and work with Niger's regional command centres, as particular areas of strength, and that EUCAP Sahel Niger has so far trained over 2,500 members of the security forces, armed forces, civil service and judiciary.

69.19 He continues as follows:

"In the context of the growing migration crisis in the Mediterranean and North Africa, plans to strengthen EUCAP's activity on migration — including in the northern Nigerien town of Agadez — are currently in hand. We can expect further planning documents on this uplift to be circulated in due course. The additional migration activity will also require a Council Decision and a further revised budget, and I shall write again to the Committees once these have been received.

"In the meantime, this Council Decision and the associated budgetary impact statement are necessary for the Mission to continue its work under its current mandate. It was recommended by Brussels committees that the Mission should use the second year of its 2014-16 mandate to increase its activity on training, capacity-building and other front-line tasks. This new budget makes provision for the Mission to do this, and whilst the overall budget rises by some 7%, this combined with other adjustments have enabled the Mission to increase its planned project activity by 53% in 2015-16. As before, projects and training are linked to one or more of the Mission's four objectives:

·  "Developing Interoperability (between the Nigerien services);

·  "Building technical competence and expertise;

·  "Strengthening human resources systems and structures;

·  "Ensuring co-ordination among international donors and Nigerien recipients."[ 494]

69.20 Regarding the mission's overall perspective, the Minister says:

·  "EUCAP Sahel Niger is becoming an increasingly important EU presence in the Sahel. Whilst the civilian CSDP Mission in Mali has only recently launched, lessons are being learnt from its elder sister in Niger; and as the latter reaches maturity it is seen by many Member States as a crucial actor in the effort to tackle the flow of migrants northwards from Sub-Saharan Africa to Libya and on to the Mediterranean. Whilst we should be realistic about what this Mission can achieve in the wide desert spaces of Niger, we agree that the EU should do more on upstream migration work in the Sahel, and that EUCAP should be an important instrument in this area. In the meantime we welcome the increased focus on projects and training under the current mandate, and therefore support the Mission's budget for 2015-16."

Previous Committee Reports

None, but see (36171), —, Sixth Report HC 219-vi (2014-15), chapter 11 (9 July 2014); (35390), —: Nineteenth Report HC-xviii (2013-14), chapter 16 (23 October 2013) and Forty-sixth Report HC 83-xli (2013-14), chapter 13 (9 April 2014).

Annex: The Minister's detailed analysis of the 2015-16 Budget

"The Proposed budget for EUCAP Sahel Niger is €9,800,000. This represents a 7% increase on the current allocation of €9,155,000. This increase is due to the recruitment of three extra staff, and costs incurred in delivering increased training and project activity, for which Member States have given support. The increase will be funded from within the existing CFSP budget which covers the costs of all civilian CSDP missions. UK officials have interrogated the budget. We judge the proposed expenditure to be commensurate with delivery of the mandate and good value for money. Comparison of the new budget to the previous budget is set out below (in euros):
Budget heading
Current budget
Proposed budget
1. Personnel costs 5,172,123 5,502,551.30
2. Missions 322,120 233,362.33
3. Running expenditure 1,858,323 1,934,520.56
4. Capital expenditure 638,853 435,698
5. Representation 9,600 9,600
6. Projects and training 974,440 1,493,597.70
Contingencies 179,541 190,670.11
Total 9,155,000 9,800,000

"PERSONNEL COSTS: €5,502,551.39

"Proposed costs for personnel will rise by €330,428 (6.4%). The mission will budget for 94 staff, an increase of three staff on 2014/15. Reasons for the increase include:

a.  "The annual increase in staff salaries including a €4,000 increase to the HOM's salary, as per EC staff regulations;

b.  "International Contracted Staff: costs will rise from €2,021,244 to €2,210,358.55 on account of the addition of two staff, an increase of 10%. Additional staff will help the mission continue and strengthen important activities in the north (Agadez) and other regions to tackle illegal migration, organised crime and the threat of Boko Haram;

c.  "Local Staff: Headcount will rise by one to 35, with the allocation for this subhead rising from €780,758 to €824,032.69. The additional staff member is required to strengthen management of mission resources.

d.  "Insurances: Expenditure for 2015/16 will be €160,178.16 compared to €93,351 for the current allocation. This increase is mainly due to a change to what is covered under the insurance. Costs for the current year included high risk insurance for the HoM and international members, liability insurance and visiting experts. Under the proposed budget, cover will also include medical insurance for local staff (€52,080) which will also cover dependant costs. This is the practice followed in other CSDP Missions such as EUSEC RD Congo.

"MISSION COSTS: €233,362.33

"This budget line covers expenditure directly related to the implementation of the mandate, such as the costs of travel to Brussels, within the Sahel and surrounding region, and within Niger, as well as the costs of nine visiting experts travelling from Europe. The new budget proposes a reduction of 27.5% compared to 2014-15.

"RUNNING COSTS: €1,934,520.56

"Expenditure under this subhead covers vehicles, IT & communications, office accommodation (rent and services), security services, medical services, administrative costs and visibility (website maintenance, media subscriptions, video production, promotional material, press conferences). Proposed expenditure represents an increase of €76,197.56 (4.1%), due to:

a.  "An increase in office and accommodation costs. The HQ has been enlarged to include new offices and parking space, which will require additional spending on maintenance and utilities. In addition, more accommodation will be needed for the uplift in staff connected with the planned increase in EUCAP's activity on migration. Furthermore, a 10% increase in building rent has been budgeted to cover additional costs resulting from increases in the local rental market;

b.  "An increase in administrative costs. This is attributable to the inclusion of welfare costs under this subhead, which had previously appeared in a different part of the budget. Overall, welfare expenditure will reduce from €35, 945 to €23,304.48.

"CAPITAL EXPENDITURE: €435,698

"This covers capital expenditure on vehicles, IT and communications equipment, buildings, medical, security and miscellaneous equipment. The proposed expenditure represents a reduction of 31.8% on the current subhead allocation. Overall, costs have decreased by €203,155. Now that the mission is firmly established, there is less need for costly capital expenditure. However, the mission has budgeted for a certain amount of IT equipment, security equipment and medical kits.

"REPRESENTATION COSTS: €9,600

"No change. Representation costs remain the same as in 2014-15.

"PROJECT & TRAINING COSTS: €1,493,597.70

"This covers the continuation and expansion of core mission activities to strengthen capacities of Nigerien security actors and combat organised crime. This work is central to the delivery of the Mission's mandate. The 2015-16 budget proposes an increase of €519,157 (53%) on the allocation for 2014-15, due to increased project and training activity as recommended by Member States. Expenditure of €770,364 on projects represents an increase of €269,267; while the resources deployed to training activity will rise from €473,373 to €772,963. Thirteen projects are being delivered by the Mission under the current mandate. A number of these are linked to training programmes also being provided by the Mission:

a.  "Projects include: strengthening coordination capacities of the Niger Defence and Security forces (FDS); strengthening operational bodies of the gendarmerie - with a possible solution being creation of an operational centre (requiring construction of pre-fab structures) in Zinder; delivery of training to reinforce criminal investigation techniques and operational capacity of the interior security forces (FSI - this requires additional IT); strengthening work to detect false documentation; equipping the National Guard and Gendarmerie with ICT equipment to combat terrorism; improving maintenance capacities of the FSI, including the provision of tools for FSI mechanics; development of a concept for mobile servicing facilities to help the FDSN improve support for vehicles in the Sahel; reinforcing the capacities of the Nigerien authorities for coordination with partners. EUCAP will also support the creation of a National Secretariat for coordination.

b.  "Training activity over the budget period will amount to 327 days of training for 955 trainees in Niamey, and 167 days of training for 1,130 trainees in the regions, over the course of the budget period. The additional training-related costs reflect expenditure on per diems, travel and administrative support that will be incurred conducting ten training trips to Agadez, two to Tahoua, five to Zinder/Diffa and one to Maradi.

"CONTINGENCIES: €190,670.11

"The Contingencies budget has increased by 6.2%, which almost tracks the rise in the overall budget (7%). This budget line covers unforeseen costs such as severance pay, and can only be used with prior written approval of the Commission. The contingency for 2014-15 remained unused."


489   See EEAS factsheet on EUCAP Sahel Niger for full information. Back

490   See (36874), -; (36938), -: Council Decisions to establish and launch on a European Union military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med). Back

491   See (35390), -: Forty-sixth Report HC 83-xli (2013-14), chapter 13 (9 April 2014). Back

492   The overall authorized strength is 80 personnel (52 international staff and 28 local staff). Back

493   See (36171), -, Sixth Report HC 219-vi (2014-15), chapter 11 (9 July 2014). Back

494   Further details of the projects are set out in the Minister's budget analysis at the Annex to this chapter of our Report. Back


 
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