Peace and stability projects will get more EU support
- Green light to review of EU fund for stability and peace projects
- Military capacity building excluded unless in exceptional circumstances
- Support to build hospitals, not to buy arms
The review of a key EU external assistance fund that has contributed to more than 260 stability and peace-building projects in 68 countries got the support of committee MEPs on Tuesday
Foreign affairs committee MEPs agreed to raise the EUR 2.3 bn budget of the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace by EUR 100 mln by the end of 2020, so as to allow for exceptional circumstances in which the fund could help build the capacity of the military in partner countries.
The review aims to strengthen the link between security and development in third countries. The European Union already has several instruments to support civilian security forces (police) and the judiciary by financing equipment such as vehicles or radios. Support for the military had always been excluded, although in some cases it is the only one capable of restoring security and reinstating public administration and basic services.
Training, mentoring and advising military forces in third countries, as well as the provision of non-lethal equipment or infrastructure, such as IT systems or hospitals, could now be eligible in exceptional cases for EU support, the draft rules say. Under no circumstances can EU support be given to building up foreign armies, buying weapons or training in combat techniques.
“European missions and operations on the ground have called for this indispensable tool for years. It is imperative to give the possibility to finance "civilian" actions of the armed forces in fragile countries. This is the missing link of the Common Security and Defence Policy,” said EP rapporteur Arnaud Danjean (EPP, FR).
The draft rules were backed by 47 votes to 14, with 4 abstentions. MEPs also decided to enter into the inter-institutional negotiations.
Council agreed its negotiating position in December 2016 so Parliament can start talks on the review of the fund if there is no objection at the September plenary session in Strasbourg.
The Instrument contributing to Peace and Stability is the EU's main tool to support security initiatives, peace-building activities and crisis response, preparedness and prevention in partner countries. Projects funded under the instrument include a sea water desalination plant in the Gaza strip, the training of civilian experts for crisis management missions and the deradicalization of young people in Bangladesh.
The fund started out in 2014 with a budget of EUR 2.3 billion for 2014-2020, replacing the Instrument for Stability (IfS) and several other instruments that focused on drugs, landmines, uprooted people, crisis management, rehabilitation and reconstruction.