With negotiations for the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework approaching, one of the proposals is to create an off-budget European Peace Facility. Such an instrument would include the current African Peace Facility (as suggested in a European Commission document published by Politico), the EU financial instrument that supports African-led peace and security initiatives. But what should such support look like in the future? As conflicts in Africa show no sign of decreasing and demand for international support remains high, a potential European Peace Facility should not only take into account a possibly shrinking EU budget. It should also empower African leadership in promoting peace and ensure that the civilian dimensions of peace support operations and its linkages with resilience and governance are taken into account.
The evaluation of the successes and shortfalls of the African Peace Facility (APF) and recent discussions on the European Peace Facility (EPF) help us to better understand what lessons can be learned from the APF for a future European Peace Facility.
What can we learn from the African Peace Facility?
The European Union’s African Peace Facility was created in 2004 in response to a request from African leaders to receive support for the African Peace and Security Architecture. Today, it is a key financial instrument through which the EU supports African-led peace support operations (PSOs), capacity-building efforts as well as early responses to emergencies.
The APF has sometimes been described as a ‘bag of money’ for the African Union’s (AU) well-known AMISOM operation, but it goes well beyond this. The evaluation shows that the APF has helped African efforts to set up and run PSOs contributing to stabilisation in the Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau, Somalia and elsewhere. It has also provided capacity-building support to the AU Commission in managing the APSA, which has proven to be overall very useful in promoting peace and security across Africa.
Thus, thanks to the APF the EU is more than just a funder, but also an enabler and a partner of the AU when it comes to peace and security. The APF is not only a large and reliable financial instrument but also distinguishes itself for its approach to African ownership – in contrast to other prominent actors such as the US. Yet, the AU’s financial dependence on the EU is painfully felt as the EU is looking for ways to reduce its PSO support.
AU PSOs have a track record of quick deployments in precarious situations and of willingness to engage in peace enforcement and counterterrorism. Yet the AU’s ability to sustain long-term operations has proven limited. European funds have granted the African Union with enough funding to pave the way for UN peacekeeping to follow up, while also complementing the UN’s doctrinal limitations when it comes to more offensive military action. This has been the case in Mali and in the Central African Republic, which has proven a degree of complementarity between AU PSOs and UN peacekeeping operations. Still, African operations focus predominantly on military responses and pay little attention to civilian aspects of security and their linkages to peacebuilding, resilience and governance.
The African Peace Facility requires some thinking on its future
But is it sustainable to keep funding African peace support operations as before? EU expenditures for peace operations – especially in the case of AMISOM – have been skyrocketing and PSO support has consumed as much as 90% of total APF resources. And while costs build up, often there is no proper exit strategy.
The remaining funds available for capacity support have helped keeping the APSA running (mainly by paying salaries), but such support to the APSA does not seem to be founded on a strategic vision on institutional development. Consequently, results on capacity-building remain mixed and administrative weaknesses within the AU remain, with negative effects on PSOs such as the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram (MNJTF).
At times, the APF had to be used creatively. New realities have called for EU support to the MNJTF and to the G5 Sahel Joint Force, which are operating under the AU’s political authority but are not related to one of the official building blocks of the African Peace and Security Architecture. While political contexts or security emergencies may require EU pragmatism and flexibility in following African decisions, such tendencies may have an eroding effect on the APSA one should remain alert to.
Lessons for a possible European Peace Facility
Despite all efforts, recent bombings in Mogadishu and deadly attacks on UN peacekeepers in Mali are just some of the many tragic events that show that the demand for international support will remain high. And yet, the future EU support to African peace should build on a continued approach of enhancing African ownership. The AU’s institutional reforms promoted by the Kagame proposals and Kaberuka’s financing reforms provide a window of opportunity for the AU to further take responsibility and strengthen the APSA’s institutional framework.
Financial independence for peace and security is still far from being achieved in Africa. Despite Kaberuka’s financial plan, the African Union won’t be able to deal with peace and security on its own and will remain dependent on international partnerships. The € 1 billion that could be raised annually thanks to the plan to introduce a 0.2% levy on eligible imports by all African countries will cover only 25% of the costs for PSOs. Also, the attempts to attract other partners, notably China and oil-rich countries, to provide large-scale and reliable support have so far been unpromising, and although the AU is hoping to benefit from UN assessed contributions, the political circumstances may not allow it to happen.
The demand for EU support will, therefore, remain high in the foreseeable future and the EU may be interested in answering this demand for its own security interests. In the future, the EU will need to collaborate closely with the United Nations and the AU at the policy and the operational level, supported by a high-level tripartite political dialogue to fully realise the EU’s potential as a relevant actor.
Collaborating with the AU and the UN will allow the EU to avoid the criticisms of those who see the APF as an ‘ATM machine’ for the African Union, or that see it as an tool to outsource European security to African troops. Engaging in a dialogue will also help the EU to better understand the intentions and the concerns of its African counterpart, as well as communicate its own positions and priorities more clearly.
The EU should further promote African capacity-building, rather than mainly substitute what African-led reform processes should accomplish. This will be a hard nut to crack as the recent institutional and financial reforms, projected to provide a 100% of the AU’s institutional funding, are encountering considerable internal hurdles for change within the African community of states.
EU discussions on the future EU external financing instruments should keep in mind that the European Peace Facility should not become a “silo” for supporting predominantly security-heavy and military-focused African responses. The instrument should be designed to take into account the civilian dimensions of peace support operations, linkages to peacebuilding and transitions to governance, in connection with other external EU funding such as the current Instrument contributing for Security and Peace.
With Brexit looming, the future of British contributions remains unsure. Negotiations on a future partnership arrangement for addressing crises which are of strategic and geopolitical relevance also to the UK will require readiness and flexibility from all parties. But even without UK contributions, the new European Peace Facility needs to have sufficient resources to fill the gap and ensure continuity in addressing upcoming crises ahead of all of us.
ECDPM’s Security and Resilience programme, together with Particip Gmbh and Cardno, has conducted an evaluation of APF’s implementation throughout the period 2014-2016.
Photo courtesy of AMISOM Public Information via Flickr.
Authors: Volker Hauck (ECDPM) ; Matthias Deneckere (ECDPM)