The end of 2021 also marked the end of the EU’s emergency trust fund for Africa. Together with other outlets in the European Data Journalism Network, under the direction of Deutsche Welle , we have used the available data to reconstruct the ways in which the funds were used.
It emerges that a large proportion of funding was dedicated to controlling Europe’s external borders and conditional aid policies. The EU’s border externalisation strategy has come to define its approach to international cooperation, and the Italian contribution to EUTF in Libya is a particularly instructive example.
What is the EUTF
The EUTF (EU Trust Fund) is a trust fund established by the European Commission with 25 member states as well as Norway and Switzerland with the declared aim of helping to stabilise the African continent and deal with the causes of irregular migration and displacement.
The fund was created at a time when Europe was facing a consistent influx of migrants from Africa. More specifically, it was introduced during the migration summit held in Malta in 2015, attended by EU heads of state as well as those from the African countries most affected by the situation. The plan was then carried out, until it finished at the end of 2021.
The fund was conceived as a concrete solution regarding the European Agenda on Migration , also from 2015, which identified four pillars for successfully managing migration:
- reduce the incentives for irregular migration;
- manage the borders; save lives and secure the external borders;
- honour the moral obligation to protect human lives; a strong, common European asylum policy;
- A new policy for legal migration.
According to the sums of allocated funds, Italy was one of the main contributors to this project, second only to Germany.
Providing 232 million euro, 37.2 percent of the total budget, Germany was the largest contributor, economically speaking. Italy follows with a contribution of 123 million (19.7 percent of the total). By contrast, all other countries contributed less than 10 percent each, with 13 countries contributing less than 1 percent.
The total budget, which started at 1.9 billion euro in 2015, eventually surpassed 5 billion over the following six years.
Thanks to these funds, more than 250 projects were initiated – though some are yet to be completed. Of these projects, 193 were launched in a single country (71 percent of the total budget), while 48 were spread over several countries (27 percent of the budget) and 12 did not specify a location.
The median budget per project was 12.8 million euro. 24 projects received funds amounting to more than 47 million euro.
Where did the money go?
While the EUTF was created for Africa, not every African country received equal funding.
Projects were specifically focused on three investment areas: the Horn of Africa (including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal), the Sahel and Chad regions (specifically Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda), and North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia). The first area received the largest share of funding, 43 percent of the total, the second 38 percent, and the third 16 percent.
The individual countries receiving the largest shares of funds were Sudan, Somalia and Libya. However, it should be noted that Niger rises to second place if we consider the number of projects rather than the allocated sums of money.
Sudan alone received about 9 percent of all allocated funds from the EUTF. Somalia is next, with 8.6 percent, then Libya (7.3 percent).
What was the money invested in?
The EUTF projects, which can be viewed here , were classified by thematic areas, divided into four broad sectors:
- Improving and increasing economic opportunities and employment;
- Managing and preventing conflict;
- Improving local governance;
- Managing migration flows.
This last thematic area in particular played an important r