For a number of years fragile states have been high on the foreign policy agendas of the USA and the EU. Both actors look upon fragile states with great concern and consider them as security threats. Officially they give priority to ‘whole-of-government approaches’ (wga) when addressing the threats from these states. However, there is a gap between the policy declarations and the policies implemented by the two actors. The missing link in the implementation of wga in Africa is explained by two variables: on the one hand, material interests in the continent and, on the other hand, the institutions in Washington and Brussels involved in policy making. It is the lack of a strong foreign policy priority for Africa that explains the inadequate US implementation of wga. In the case of the EU, it is the multitude of institutions and institutional interests that explains the lack of implementation, rather than a lack of European interests in the fragile states on continent.