European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica co-signs new regional funding for West Africa

European Commission has pledged €1.15bn (£814.45m) in aid to West Africa through to 2020, nearly doubling the aid given previously, to a region that is a major source of migrants seeking to enter Europe.

The previous five year European Development Fund programme had set aside a €595m budget.

Although the EU statement did not give a breakdown of the funding, it said part of the funds earmarked for security would go towards migration.

The funds will be distributed to 16 countries in the region. They include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

The region is also still struggling to end an Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 11,200 people and still affecting Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, co-signed the new regional funding on Monday (6 July) with President Kadre Desire Quedraogo of the Economic Community of West African States and President Cheikhe Hadjibou Soumare of the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

"Regional integration in West Africa is already bearing impressive fruits and today's signing is the ambitious starting point for preparing new, concrete projects that will benefit the region and its countries, " Mimica said.

"Having almost doubled our support from the last programming period, we will work with a wide range of partners to tackle the challenges that remain in West Africa, such as peace and security, economic integration and trade, as well as sustainable development," she added in the statement.

The programme focuses on these areas of cooperation:

  • Peace, security and regional Stability, including support to ECOWAS in its regional peace and security mandate and funding for peace and security initiatives, including migration;
  • Regional economic integration and trade, to strengthen trade, the private sector and regional integration and support infrastructure; and
  • Sustainable Development of natural resources and biodiversity, which covers support to resilience, food security and nutrition as well as environmental protection, biodiversity and climate change.