Commission links security to development

Neven Mimica (European Parliament)

The Juncker Commission presented Tuesday (28 April) new proposals to strengthen the link between security and development in the external actions of the European Union, two fields of action which were largely kept separate in the previous commission.

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica presented proposals on how to help partner countries and regional organisations to prevent and manage all types of security crises using the EU and the member states’ instruments.

The effort reflects the effort of the new Commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, for a more coherent and more coordinated European action, as well as his political priority of making Europe a stronger global actor.

In his political guidelines as candidate for President of the Commission, back in July 2014, Juncker wrote:

“I believe we cannot be satisfied with how our common foreign policy is working at the moment. We need better mechanisms in place to anticipate events early and to swiftly identify common responses. We need to be more effective in bringing together the tools of Europe’s external action. Trade policy, development aid, our participation in international financial institutions and our neighbourhood policy must be combined and activated according to one and the same logic.”

But the effort also comes against the background of a growing number of conflicts in the EU’s neighbourhood that erode the development efforts and increase the immigration pressure on Europe. As an EU diplomat recently said, further arrivals of migrants are unsustainable economically and politically, and risk destroying the EU.

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The Communication recognizes that the EU should provide partner countries with efficient support so that they can build the capacity to take care of their own security and development. It also suggests how to adapt current instruments to new threats and challenges such as terrorism and organised crime.

Mogherini said that with these new proposals, the Commission wants to help its partners tackling challenges related to terrorism, conflicts, trafficking and extremism. “Empowering partners to take security and stabilisation into their own hands is in the interest of their development, but also in the interest of international stability, including peace and security in Europe,” she stated.

Mimica said the EU could not support its partners in fighting poverty without security. “We need to mutually reinforce our interventions in the field of security and development”, he argued.

The strategy document envisages supporting more effectively partners’ security capacity-building by making more of the current instruments, inside and outside the EU budget, and by improving coordination and coherence in the EU’ and member countries’ approach to security and development. It also proposes to consider the practical feasibility of:

  • Adapting the African Peace Facility to address its limitations
  • Establishing a new facility linking peace, security and development in the framework of one or more of the existing instruments
  • Setting up a new instrument dedicated to security capacity-building in partner countries

This could cover, for example, the provision of ambulances, force protection equipment or communication means to military forces in countries where Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions are already giving training and advice, but where their effectiveness is hampered by a lack of basic means. The Communication does not cover lethal weapons, which is not the type of equipment that the EU provides.

This also builds on the lessons learnt from existing EU operations and missions active in third countries as part of the EU Common Security and Defence policy, such as the EU Training Mission in Mali or the EU training Mission in Somalia.

Challenges identified include:

  • Shortage of funding
  • Limitations of various instruments and mechanisms to fund the needs for security capacity-building, especially in the military sector
  • Limitations of the African Peace Facility to finance activities at national level
  • Practical challenges related to the use of a “patchwork” of different instruments in the same context

For example, in some circumstances, units trained by the EU lacked food, water and medical equipment which rendered them reliant on the local population. Their soldiers were missing protective equipment against mines and explosive devices. Lack of communication equipment, which hindered their command and control, was also identified. No alternative funding could be identified to fill those gaps, making the EU’s support less effective.

This Communication will be discussed by EU foreign ministers at their Council meeting on 18 May, in view of preparing the European Council in June, which will put European Defence policy high on the political agenda.

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