The Protestant development agency Bread for the World is firmly opposed to the plans. “From a peace and development perspective, it’s a declaration of bankruptcy,” says its President, Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel. “The EU purports to be a peace project and yet it is increasingly relying on the military to keep the peace.” She points out that some excellent civil conflict prevention and peacebuilding strategies have been available for some time and have potential to be refined and updated. “From our perspective, every euro that is diverted from the development and civil budgets and spent on the military is a euro too much.” These funds are urgently needed to address the structural causes of conflict.
The German Government supports the Commission’s initiative to repurpose the IcSP for the benefit of the military. Indeed, the proposal passed through Parliament without further debate in Germany. The European Council has also come out in favour of the move. In order to become law, it must be approved by the European Parliament: its lead Committee on Foreign Affairs is expected to conclude its deliberations by end of June and will vote on the issue soon after that.
The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) was established in 2014 with the aiming of increasing the effectiveness of EU policy in the fields of crisis response, conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Its remit is wide and already almost impossible to fulfil from the existing budget (2.338 billion euros for 2014-2020). What’s more, for 2017, almost a third of the IcSP funds earmarked for flexible and rapid crisis response measures has already been allocated to migration “management” and border protection in Turkey.
So that capacity building for the armed forces can be funded as well, the Commission proposes to increase the IcSP budget by 100 million euros to 2020. One option initially discussed was to draw the full amount from the poverty reduction reserves. The latest proposal takes a different tack: the cash will be diverted from four separate development policy and civil budget lines.
For more information and interviews, please contact Dr Martina Fischer, Policy Advisor, Peace & Conflict Transformation at Bread for the World, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accompanying Factsheet to the press release:
Background information: the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP)
The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) was established in 2014 with the aiming of increasing the effectiveness of EU policy in the fields of crisis response, conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Its budget amounts to 2.338 billion euros for 2014-2020. For 2017, almost a third of the IcSP funds earmarked for flexible crisis response measures has already been allocated to migration “management” and border protection in Turkey.
The European Commission’s proposal
The Commission proposes to increase the IcSP budget by 100 million euros to 2020 in order to cover military “capacity building”. One option initially discussed was to draw the full amount from the poverty reduction reserves. The latest proposal aims to mobilise the funds by diverting 25% from each of the following: the Development Cooperation Instrument, the Multiannual Financial Framework – Heading IV, the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) and the Common Foreign and Security Policy budget. In the European Parliament, critics of the plan are worried that this is the thin end of the wedge and that further reallocations will follow post-2020. The German Government was a driving force behind the plan to “repurpose” the IcSP. In 2015, it set up a national budget line to “enhance the capabilities” of partner countries’ armed forces but would like to see this initiative funded from the EU budget as well, which is why, together with various other member states, it has sent a non-paper and letter to the Commission. Supporters of the Commission’s proposal point out that it precludes the supply of arms and munitions, but as the text does not specify which types of equipment may be provided or for what purpose, it may be assumed to include anything from uniforms to IT infrastructure, establishment of military bases and the provision of an array of other equipment that facilitates the waging of war.
Context and analysis
Supporters of the Commission’s proposal justify the plan by focusing on the threat of instability across entire regions and the need for a “comprehensive” approach to conflict management. The structural causes of conflict, however, are rarely analysed, let alone addressed.On the contrary, the proposed repurposing of the IcSP points in a very different direction, reflecting the broader trend away from peaceful preventive policy-making that addresses root causes, and towards a primarily military understanding of security. Over the past decade, the EU has also begun to subsidise defence research. The Preparatory Action envelope of the Common Security and Defence Policy opens the way for a joint defence research programme, with 90 million euros initially earmarked for this purpose, and a further 500 million euros per year coming from member states in future. The proposed research programme will be flanked by comprehensive agreements on more intensive defence policy cooperation, already being prepared by the Commission and a number of member states.
The defence industry and its associations welcome the moves and are poised to exploit the potential new markets which will open up with EU-funded “capacity building” programmes. In a position paper dated 20 June 2016, the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe welcomed the revision of the IcSP and recommended focusing on border surveillance, counter-terrorism, organised crime and protection of critical infrastructures, based on repurposing of part of the development budget. “Up until now,” the Association states, “IcSP has funded mainly activities of international organisations, NGOs, Think Tanks, etc. We believe that the natural partner for the supply of EU-funded equipment and services should be European industries.” With that aim in mind, it is proposing a “structured dialogue” with industry. This is the context in which the draft report (“opinion”) of 31 March 2017 by Arnaud Danjean, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the IcSP, should be read: Danjean supported the expansion of the IcSP to include military capacity building and called for the IcSP Regulation to be amended through the insertion of one further point, namely that the assistance provided to build the capacity of military actors in partner countries should take account of the Union’s “strategic and industrial interests”.
Policy coherence for peace and security is not created by providing armed forces with better equipment or by mixing budget lines. What is needed, instead, are cross-cutting policies and coordinated action which aims to prevent the escalation of violence and addresses the causes of conflicts – in other words, policies which give precedence to civil conflict management over the expansion of military capabilities. In view of the EU’s current change of course, it is hard not to agree with the argument advanced by the European Network against Arms Trade (ENAAT) against the growing use of EU funds – which is public money – for military research and development. The EU, it says, should be a peace project, not a subsidy-generating machine for the arms industry; funding should therefore go to projects which contribute to resolving and preventing conflicts and addressing their root causes – and do so non-violently.
Bread for the World is not only critical of the repurposing of development funds: it is also convinced that by targeting the IcSP, the Commission has opted for entirely the wrong instrument. Any EU member states interested in providing training and equipment for partner countries’ armed forces can simply set up a new multilateral initiative and provide funding without encroaching on the EU budget. Here too, they should clearly state the criteria that they are using to select partners – and explain how they intend to ensure that assistance complies with human rights, democratic standards and peace policy. These measures require careful scrutiny and reliable governance structures at the local level and should not be implemented at the expense of civil conflict prevention and development.