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EU measures to support security and development in partner countries

06 July 2016
by eub2 -- last modified 06 July 2016

The European Commission and EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini presented measures on 5 July to enhance the European Union's effectiveness in supporting stability, security and development in third countries. The measures were outlined in a Joint Communication on security sector reform in partner countries and a legislative proposal to extend the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP).


Security Sector Reform

Why does the EU support security sector reform (SSR) in partner countries?

Insecurity and instability are often generated or exacerbated by the lack of an effective, democratic and accountable security system. Helping partner countries to improve their security sectors supports the EU's objectives of promoting democracy and human rights, preserving peace, preventing conflicts, strengthening international security, and helping partner countries in their development.

Why do we need a new SSR framework? What's new?

The EU has long-standing experience in supporting security sector reform in partner countries. The new strategic framework brings both Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and Commission instruments together, thus merging and updating previously separate EU policy concepts for SSR support. They will be guided by the same principles and approaches and will contribute to the effectiveness of the Global Strategy for foreign and security policy and the European Agenda on Security.

In which countries will the SSR framework apply?

This new framework will apply in all contexts and in all countries where the EU decides to support the security sector.

What are the main elements of the new SSR framework?

The aim of the new policy framework is to enhance the EU's effectiveness in promoting and supporting partner countries' efforts to ensure security for individuals and the state. Security should be anchored in the respect of the rule of law, application of human rights and good governance principles, such as transparency and accountability.

The EU will take specific situations and circumstances in the partner country into account. Building on national strategies and policies is the best approach to achieve national ownership. EU instruments will also need to be managed in a flexible way to adapt to rapidly changing environments. Analysis, planning and implementation of EU support will need to be carefully calibrated with efforts of other international actors and in particular with the bilateral efforts of EU Member States.

In this framework, the EU may support all components of the security sector, including the military, within the limits of EU legislation activities including institutional support, training, equipment (non-lethal equipment only) and disarmament.

Which activities are currently supported by the EU in the field of security sector reform?

The EU already finances a multitude of actions in the field of security and development. Over the period 2001-2009, the Commission contracted over €1 billion in interventions related to support for security and justice sector reform in partner countries, with six main core areas: law enforcement; border management; justice reform; Disarmament, Demobilisation, Reintegration (DDR); civilian management; and civilian oversight.

At present, it is possible to fund the security (police) and justice sectors with the EU's instruments. However, the direct financing of the military is not possible. Due to exceptional circumstances in some partner countries, it was important to close this gap.

Capacity building in support of security and development (CBSD)

What is the purpose of amending the IcSP Regulation?

Regulation (EU) No 230/2014 which establishes an instrument contributing to stability and peace (IcSP) focuses on the security-development nexus and has three components: crisis response, conflict prevention and actions addressing global, trans-regional and emerging threats. By adopting a proposal to amend this Regulation, we are aiming at extending the EU's assistance to the militaries of partner countries, under exceptional and clearly delimitated circumstances, with a sustainable development objective. The initiative is designed to support partner countries to prevent and manage crises on their own, contributing to national and regional stability and allowing for sustainable development, as well as the achievement of peaceful and inclusive societies.

Why is it necessary to provide assistance to the militaries of partner countries?

The European Union subscribed to the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on 'peace and justice', which recognise the link between security and development and underline the importance of just, peaceful and inclusive societies. SDG 16 requests to "strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacities at all levels, in particular in developing countries, for preventing violence and combatting terrorism and crime". Lasting solutions to conflict and insecurity will not be possible without the contribution of the military, which is an integral part of government and institutional setup of states.

The European Council Conclusions of 19/20 December 2013 emphasised "the importance of supporting partner countries and regional organisations, through providing training, advice, equipment and resources where appropriate, so that they can increasingly prevent or manage crises by themselves".

In April 2015, the European Commission and the High Representative adopted a Joint Communication on capacity building in support of security and development. This Communication identified gaps in the EU's ability to provide support in building the capacities of partners in the security sector. The Joint Communication concluded that there was no EU budget instrument designed to provide comprehensive financing for security capacity building in partner countries, in particular the military component. This hampers the EU's ability to achieve external action objectives, including fostering conditions for peace, human security and sustainable development. The current proposal aims to remedy this situation.

This assistance would be exceptional, as it would only be provided under certain circumstances in countries affected by a specific situation, and where assistance to other actors would not allow for the objectives designed in the Regulation to be achieved.

What kind of activities will be financed?

The proposed IcSP Regulation amendment introduces the possibility of a new type of EU assistance measures, enabling support to enhance partners' capacity to prevent, prepare for and respond to crises.

The assistance may cover training, mentoring and advice, the provision of non-lethal equipment, infrastructure improvements and other services, to address urgent short-term as well as medium-term needs in the context of the achievement of sustainable development, i.e. stable, inclusive and peaceful societies.

Under the proposal, EU assistance will not be used to finance: (a) recurrent military expenditure; (b) the procurement of arms and ammunition; (c) training which is solely designed to contribute to the fighting capacity of the armed forces.

In order to contribute to sustainable development and in particular to the achievement of stable, peaceful and inclusive societies, it is essential to promote good governance in the public administration, including the ministries of defence and the armed forces, which are an integral part of the executive branch of government. Typical good governance support activities are those aimed at enhancing efficiency, transparency, accountability, civilian oversight and democratic control of the armed forces, in particular with regard to the legal framework; organisation and administration, including standards and ethics; human resources management (e.g. recruitment, training, remuneration, career development, disciplinary measures, retirement); asset management; financial management, including budget and procurement; internal control and inspection, reporting, audit, judicial oversight, Parliamentary control; public communication, media relations and interaction with civil society.

EU financial support may cover the performance by the military of development and human security-related tasks, notably the reconstruction/rehabilitation of civil infrastructure (e.g. roads, bridges, schools, hospitals), mine clearing, the removal and disposal of explosive remnants of war and unexploded ordinance, disarmament and demobilisation of ex-combatants, the collection and destruction of small arms and light weapons, civil protection tasks in emergencies, as well as border and migration management activities when the responsible national body is of a military nature or is unable to assume these functions.

With regard to specific pieces of equipment and infrastructure upgrade interventions for the military, it may cover IT systems (including software), transport vehicles (for example those for troops or cargo), communication means, uniforms and protective gear, surveillance and mine clearance equipment, training-related equipment and facilities, functional infrastructure (such as buildings, barracks), medical and sport facilities, water and sanitation infrastructure, the power supply, logistic and storage facilities, furniture, and stationery.

CBSD assistance measures should be underpinned by the following principles:

  • ownership by the partner country, alignment to the partner's long-term development strategies, harmonisation of support and coordination of interventions among actors to avoid duplication, focus on results and mutual accountability (development effectiveness principles);
  • respect for human rights and adherence to international humanitarian law;
  • coherence with other EU actions as part of a broader EU comprehensive approach to external conflict and crises.

Why can this support not be financed through our Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)?

CSDP missions and their budgets are not designed to provide equipment to security sector actors of partner countries.

The expenditure for military operations to be financed pursuant to Article 41(2) TEU by the Athena mechanism concerns expenditure arising out of the functioning and the equipment of the EU CSDP missions/operations. CSDP missions provide training to military and civilian security forces of third countries.

Due to the design of the Athena mechanism today, it cannot provide the equipment and help ensure sustainability for training purposes or to follow up on the operationalization of the defence units they have trained.

Athena as it stands now is not an instrument for the benefit of third parties, including developing countries.

Where would the money come from?

No additional financial resources would be mobilised to implement the proposal. The initiative would be financed through redeployment within Heading IV ('the EU as an external actor') of the general budget of the Union. The IcSP financial envelope would be increased, over a four-year period (2017-2020), by €100 million to implement the proposal.

For more information

New proposals to improve EU's support for security and development in partner countries