This article asks to what extent the European Union (EU) and its member states actually pursued and implemented comprehensive approaches in relation to crisis management in Africa. It also asks what can explain the lack of full implementation of the comprehensive approach in the cases of South Sudan, Mali and the Central African Republic. It is shown that EU member states saw the added value of the common EU approach while at the same time they pursued national interests at odds with the common goals of the EU. The flaws in implementation of the comprehensive approach are mainly explained by member states' preoccupation with taking care of national interests rather than joining ranks with other member states and the EU institutions. There appears to be an exception to the rule: when Europe's security is perceived as being high on the agenda, the implementation of the comprehensive approach may follow policy declarations more closely. The comprehensive approach nevertheless indicates an emerging Europeanisation norm influencing policy approaches to the sensitive nexuses that link security, development and crisis response. Evidence from country-level interventions reveals that this norm is yet to impact on the member state political will required to Europeanise country-level implementation where important national interests are perceived to be at stake.
- comprehensive approach; crisis management; national interests; Central African Republic; Mali; South Sudan