International Cooperation and Development

West Africa

West Africa and the EU have been partners for over 40 years. The EU is West Africa’s largest trading partner and supports the region in many areas with the goal of improving people’s living conditions and ensuring sustainable development.

The West African region is made up of the 15 Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) members, Mauritania, and Chad.

West Africa’s global trade has more than tripled in the last 10 years and an integrated West African economy is estimated at over €1 trillion from agriculture, commerce, industry and services, among other economic activities. Nevertheless, the region’s main development challenges are related to peace and security, a growing young population in urgent need of new economic opportunities, and migration in the region and to neighbouring regions. Food and nutrition insecurity also continue to chronically affect West Africa, particularly in the Sahel.

Our cooperation with West Africa is primarily framed by programmes funded under the European Development Fund (EDF).

Our strategic objectives for the region include:

  • establishing peace, security and regional stability
  • promoting regional economic integration, trade and the private sector
  • building resilience in food and nutritional security
  • securing natural resources and fostering renewable energy

The EU Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) for Africa is an important instrument through which we support overall stability in the region and fight the root causes of destabilisation, forced displacement and irregular migration.

The EU-West Africa Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is a trade and development agreement created with West African regional organisations. It uses trade to promote development, helping West African businesses and consumers, and protecting agricultural products and consumer goods.

Our programmes

Regional integration and the collaboration between regional organisations and international partners holds significant opportunities for West Africa. 

The current Regional Indicative Programme (RIP) for West Africa makes €1.07 billion available between 2014-2020 to:

  • combat cross-border crime, human trafficking, terrorism, and violent extremism
  • support the private sector and infrastructure development, and provide trade-related assistance
  • fight limitations that hinder trade
  • manage regional public goods and build resilience to food and nutrition insecurity
  • maintain and improve biodiversity, the governance of natural resources, and the management of forests and bodies of water
  • reduce the region’s vulnerability to climate and environmental risks

The National Indicative Programmes (NIPs) of each country in the region, the EUTF and other bilateral cooperation instruments compliment the RIP in West Africa.