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EU explains why funding ended for Ecomig

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By Tabora Bojang

Since the deployment of the West African troops Ecomig to The Gambia in 2017, the European Union mission has been the key funding agency for the mission until in June 2021 when the agreed time frame expired.

Speaking exclusively to The Standard Thursday, the EU Ambassador to the Gambia Corrado Pampaloni said:

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 “We funded it [Ecomig] via the Ecowas delegation in Abuja because it was a regional intervention. It was stopped in June 2021 simply because we didn’t receive bills [invoices] anymore, so we stopped paying even though it was previously scheduled to end in December 2021”.

However, he said the EU had previously committed itself to continue funding the troops beyond 2021 if only it was going to be transformed into police coaching, teaching and mentoring system.

“Our contract with Ecomig would have been terminated in December 2021 but then we said during the talks at the beginning in 2017 that our funds will stop in 2021. However, if you will transform it into a police force, that is a civilian force, we are ready to discuss the funding again but that never materialised, so we never started to discuss the situation again,” the ambassador added.

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The ambassador also disclosed that Ecomig’s eventual withdrawal is now “decided and accepted.”

According to him, the forces have tackled many of its tasks provided for in the framework of the security sector reform.

“There is still much room for improvement but this minister of defense is ready to discuss with partners and I think he has a regular conversation with the president and the community involved in the SSR. There will be new laws, and we all expect a new constitution that will tackle elements belonging to the security sector. I also trust very much the president’s security adviser who has a very clear view of what needs to be done,” he said.

Speaking on the security sector reform which critics of the government believe is ‘dormant or even non-existent,’ Ambassador Pampaloni stated that there were some “delays at the beginning but the process in now taking place.”

“The government is aware that Ecomig is expiring and they are taking on board the recommendations but also their own assessment because now they have a minister and a functioning ministry and a security adviser who is doing a very good work. The defense policy too was launched Wednesday,” he said.

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