The Mediterranean region and the European continent are inextricably linked from a geographical, historical, and strategic point of view. For this simple reason, it is impossible for the countries that lie on the two shores of this almost-closed sea to ignore each other for a long time. Consequently, international cooperation between them has always been intense, being reinforced by strong cultural and economic ties. Nevertheless, due to the high degree of instability that traditionally affects this area, the EU’s foreign policy towards many of its southern neighbours has usually been dominated by the theme of the security–development nexus. Lebanon is no exception. Having its modern history characterized by recurring social unrest, economic crises and civil wars, this small country has often drawn the attention of European policymakers. In 2019 the nation that was once called “the Switzerland of Middle East” has fallen again into a severe political paralysis and started to experience a deep economic downturn, which undermines inter alia the normal implementation of cooperation programmes with the EU (World Bank, 2021) The general election held in May 2022 was intended to put an end to this situation, but it didn’t. For as long as the crisis perseveres, risk Lebanon risks falling into another devastating civil war is becoming feasible. Therefore, stronger European engagement to maintain the country’s stability seems to be a matter of necessity, and it could be one of the last opportunities to save Lebanon from sinking.
The 21st century has seen the rise of “new wars” in which violent non-state actors (VNSAs) employ tactical means of asymmetric warfare and facilitate digital technologies for their purposes. To secure their population and stabilise the liberal international order, nation-states must deepen their cooperation and increase interoperability in strategy, operational approach, and information-sharing.
On 10 June, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the withdrawal of the French forces from the Sahel region. Operation Barkhane started back in August 2014 after Operation Serval, which was deployed to support the Malian government in 2013. Operation Barkhane was based on the partnership between France and the countries of the Sahel G5, namely Burkina-Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, to address the rising presence of Islamist terrorism in the territory. The main strategy was to give the possibility and the means to the Sahel G5 countries to develop both national and regional strategies to fight terrorism autonomously (Ministère des Armées, 2019). The French approach was based not only on security in a strict way but also on politics and development in a broader sense.
After much wait and debate, on 19 April, the Council of the European Union has approved a set of conclusions to establish its new Sahel strategy.
The first measures to counter terrorism were adopted in the 1960s and 1970s to deal with the first attacks that Europe suffered during that period, which led the first nine countries of the former European Economic Community (ECC) to become aware of their individual vulnerability to the new risks. However, it was the terrorist attacks of the 11th of September 2001 which triggered a collective reaction that led to the approval in a few days of the measures that had been blocked for years. This incident promoted the creation of a new legal framework to strengthen international cooperation in criminal matters within the European Union (EU). As a consequence, on the 13th of June 2002, the Council of the European Union adopted the decision on the European Arrest Warrants (EAW) and the surrender procedures between Member States which entered into force in 2004.