Igor Tabak / obris.org
As of today, 22 March 2021, the European Union has a new financial instrument at its disposal to cover the costs of its activities abroad, whenever they have military or defense implications under the provisions of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). The EU Council today adopted a decision establishing an EU Fund for International Peace Operations (EPF), an extra-budgetary fund worth around 5 billion euros for the period from 2021 to 2027 and filled with contributions from EU member states. This new structure becomes operational today, on the day of its adoption, and its operational part will continue to be under the auspices of the EU Council.
The ultimate goal of the EPF is to improve the EU’s ability to prevent conflicts, preserve peace and strengthen international stability and security. It will achieve this by enabling the European Union to better assist partner countries – either by (1) covering the costs of EU peacekeeping operations around the world so far funded by the ATHENA Mechanism (such as EUTM Mali, EUTM Central African Republic, Operation ATALANTA in Somalia), 2) covering the costs of joint military or defense activities in support of the objectives of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (such as partner-led missions under the African Peace Instrument), and, as a matter of particular importance, (3) through “extra-budgetary” EU assistance to these partner countries around the world to strengthen their own armed forces with infrastructure, equipment or military-technical assistance (lest they themselves then better maintain peace and security in their territories). It is the latter that is a major innovation that could greatly strengthen the spectrum of international action and influence of the European Union.
“Lasting peace can only be built by investing in international stability and security. The European Union has the will, and as of today the appropriate financial tools, to do so. The EU Fund for International Peace Operations will allow us to significantly assist our partner countries in responding. to common security challenges”, said Augusto Santos Silva, Foreign Minister of the Portuguese Republic, the current country holding the EU Council presidency.
For the first time, this fund will enable the European Union to complement the activities of missions and operations under its Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) with a variety of support measures. These measures may include the supply of various military or defense equipment, as well as assistance in setting up some kind of infrastructure or assistance system – all at the request of an individual foreign country, or a regional or international organization. Such assistance measures will be integrated into a broader framework of a clear and coherent policy strategy, and accompanied by thorough risk assessments and measures to ensure the success of the enterprise. This will put an end to the fact that in practice the European Union, as the world’s largest provider of humanitarian and development aid, but also the largest provider of military training missions abroad, has not been able to effectively equip friendly forces trained, and sometimes even provide quality equipment on which such military training would be conducted. Such gaps in powers and capabilities in recent years have created a very special kind of unpleasant international situation – such as those in the Central African Republic since January 2018, when the extensive and long-lasting operation of the EU Military Training Mission in Central African Republic (EUTM- RCA) was followed by the Russian Federation and with its relatively modest export of military goods there suddenly gained considerable influence in the former EU field of work.
This new fund is part of a comprehensive EU approach to financing the Union’s external action, which aims to shape a coherent and comprehensive security policy and create its positive complementarity with other EU policies and instruments – such as the Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (Neighborhood, Development). and International Cooperation Instrument, NDICI-Global Europe), especially given its dimensions of security development and capacity building.
The road to a new tool for peacekeeping operations
Since 2004, the European Union has funded its operations in Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) missions and operations through the ATHENA Mechanism. The process of withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (BREXIT), started after the referendum on June 23, 2016, but also reflections related to the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy adopted on June 28, 2016. year, encouraged reforms in this area. One of the ideas was to replace the existing instruments with the EU Fund for International Peacekeeping Operations – which would expand the range of recognized common costs, thus enabling a faster deployment of forces and better flexibility of the EU’s response to terrain challenges and its enhanced predictability. This new structure was presented to the public by Federica Mogherini, the then High Representative for EU Foreign and Security Policy, at a conference on the future of the CSDP on 13 December 2017. She then explained:
“We need to equip ourselves with the means and resources to achieve our new common ambitions in the field of security and defense. Together with the Commission, we are working on a new Multiannual Financial Framework – our spending plans for the next seven years of the European Union. a peace instrument ‘co-financed and led by member states. This would allow us to be significantly more efficient in planning and deploying our military missions, but also to support our partners in facing common security challenges “.
The first concrete proposal of the new EU Fund for International Peace Operations was presented to the public in June 2018, and in the following years was the subject of intense discussions on its organizational form, governance and objectives – which ran in parallel with discussions on the new EU Multiannual Financial Framework. At the beginning of the summer of 2018, it was planned to allocate a total of around 10.5 billion euros within the EPF, which would unite the until recently scattered extra-budgetary financing mechanisms – which could not even be within the EU budget due to its military and defense implications. excludes Article 41 (2) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). But after the adoption of the “Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027” on 17 December 2020, which consolidated the EU budget of 1,074.3 billion euros in 2018 prices, only a day later the EU Council achieved agreement on the establishment of the “European Instrument for Peace”, ie the aforementioned “EU Fund for Peace Operations” within the framework of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.
To date, European Union support could only be provided by peacekeeping operations led by African players – operations led by the African Union or other African regional organizations. This was done through an EU instrument called the African Peace Facility (AFP). The new EU Fund for International Peacekeeping Operations should transcend these policy constraints and extend the geographical reach of the European Union, as the EU will be able to contribute to the financing of military peace support operations and partner assistance programs anywhere in the world. Of the approximately € 10.5 billion originally mentioned for this purpose between 2021 and 2027, around € 5 billion ended up separately for the EPF – an increase of around € 2 billion, according to the until recently available totals of the African Instrument for peace and the ATHENA Mechanism.
This material was created with the financial support of the European Union within the project “Towards an open, fair and sustainable Europe in the world – EU Presidency Project 2019 – 2021”. The author is solely responsible for the content and cannot be considered the official position of the European Union.