Emanuela Del Re is the new EU Special Representative for the Sahel. Member of the Italian Parliament and former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, on June 6 Del Re was appointed Special Representative by the Political and Security Committee of the EU, on the proposal of High Representative Josep Borrell.

del re 1
Emanuela Del re with former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Photo by Riccardo Antimiani.

Sociologist, researcher and expert in international politics, with a particular focus on migration, conflict and religious issues, Del Re gained extensive knowledge of Africa during her mandate at the Farnesina (the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), where she was in charge of International Cooperation programmes.

Now, Del Re will have to manage the European strategy towards an extremely complex region, marked by political instability (as demonstrated by the recent coup in Mali, the second in nine months), a difficult economic situation and the growing presence of terrorist groups, but which at the same time is fundamental for the management of migratory flows, being at the center of the routes that lead to the coasts of North Africa. “Physical, political and human geography make the Sahel the true frontier of Europe“, underlined Del Re herself during a public event organized by the Italian General Confederation of Labour last November.

borrell 1
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell

The Sahel is a strategic priority for the EU and its member states. The EU is committed to the security and development of the Sahel, of which the Union is the main partner. The European Union follows a global approach that integrates political and diplomatic dialogue, security and stability, development aid and humanitarian supportDel Re said in an interview with Italian news website Formiche.net after her appointment as special representative.

The goal of the EU, says Del Re, is to promote the stabilization of the region in the short term, while in the long term the focus is on social, environmental and economic development. As special representative, Del Re will have the delicate task of making the voice of the European Union heard in the Sahel and at international tables, contributing “to the efforts towards lasting peace, security and development“, and working with European and local partners to promote the protection of human rights and the rule of law. All this while strengthening the “multilateral system in which the United Nations plays a pivotal role together with regional organizations, in particular the African Union, Ecowas and the G5 Sahel“.

italia mali
Joint exercises between Italian and Malian armed forces.

Del Re’s candidacy was strongly supported by Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who is also member of Del Re’s political party, the Five Star Movement. After all, as we explained in this article, the importance of the Sahel for migration and the security of the whole of North Africa pushed Italy to a greater commitment in the area over the last years.

In fact, Italy is part of international military missions such as the European Union Training Mission in Mali and the French-led Task Force Takuba. The fact that the new EU Special Representative is Italian, therefore, shows that the EU recognizes the importance of Italian commitment on the ground, and at the same time strenghtens the role of our country in the Sahel.