European programme for the prevention of violent conflicts.
Commission Communication on conflict prevention.
||(b) 11 April 2001
|Forwarded to the Council:
||(b) 17 April 2001
|Deposited in Parliament:
||(b) 11 May 2001|
||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 17 July 2001
|Previous Committee Report:
|Discussed in Council:
||(a) June 2001 European Council;
(b) 31 May 2001 Development Council
||Cleared, but request to be kept informed
European programme for the prevention of violent conflicts
51.1 This unofficial document was taken at the
Coreper meeting on 7 June and endorsed by the Göteborg European
Council in June. According to the Presidency Conclusions,
the Council expects the programme to improve the EU's capacity
for coherent early warning, analysis and action. Future Presidencies,
the Commission and the Secretary-General/High Representative (SG/HR)
are invited to promote implementation of the Programme and to
make recommendations for developing it further.
51.2 The programme emphasises the EU's political
commitment to conflict prevention, which the Conclusions describe
as one of the main objectives of the EU's external relations.
It should be integrated into all those relevant aspects of its
external relations", including the European Security and
Defence Policy (ESDP), development co-operation and trade. In
the Programme, the EU undertakes to:
- strengthen the EU's political commitment and
set priorities for preventative action;
- improve early warning, action and policy coherence;
- enhance instruments for long- and short-term
- build effective partnerships for prevention.
Setting political priorities
51.3 The programme states that "development
of policy options must start with clear political priorities and
direction, set out through regular reviews of potential conflict
areas". In order to set these priorities, the Council undertakes
to schedule "a broad consideration" of potential conflict
issues at the outset of each Presidency. This will be prepared
with the assistance of the SG/HR, Council bodies such as the Political
and Security Committee (PSC), and the Commission. They will identify
priority areas and regions for EU preventive actions.
51.4 The Council undertakes to pursue "coherent
and comprehensive preventive strategies", and the Commission
is invited to implement its proposal on strengthening the conflict
prevention elements in the Country Strategy Papers through more
systematic analyses of potential conflict situations.
Improving early warning
51.5 A list of different bodies such as Member
States, EC delegations, the Council Policy Planning and Early
Warning Unit (PPEWU) and the EU Military Staff should provide
regular information. In addition, full use will be made of information
from the field-based personnel of the UN and the OSCE, as well
as of other international organisations and civil society.
EU instruments for long- and short-term
51.6 The extensive set of instruments available
include the long-term ones of development co-operation, trade,
arms control, human rights and environment policies, as well as
political dialogue. For short-term prevention, the programme proposes
that the Union make use of a broad range of diplomatic and humanitarian
instruments. The ESDP structures and capabilities developed for
civil and military crisis management will also contribute. But
the EU must use these instruments "in a more targeted and
effective manner in order to address root-causes of conflict such
as poverty, lack of good governance and respect for human rights,
and competition for scarce natural resources".
Strengthening its instruments for long-
and short-term prevention
51.7 The programme says that all the relevant
institutions of the EU will mainstream conflict prevention and
take into account the recommendations made in the Commission Communication
on which we report below. The Commission is invited to implement
the recommendations of the 31 May Council Conclusions on EU electoral
assistance and observation,
paying particular attention to support for electoral processes.
51.8 The programme also says that the EU's capacity
will be strengthened, as needs are identified, by developing instruments
in areas such as human rights and democracy, fact-finding missions,
disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DD&R) and demining.
51.9 A commitment is made by the Council to examine
how instruments for disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation
can be used more systematically for preventative purposes, whilst
avoiding duplication with the activities of regional and international
organisations. Support is expressed for the UN Programme of Action
on the unregulated spread of small arms.
Co-operation and partnerships
51.10 The EU will intensify exchanges of information
and practical co-operation on conflict prevention and crisis management
with the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, other regional organisations
and the international financial institutions.
51.11 Responsibility for implementing the programme
will be shared between the EU and its Member States.
The Commission Communication
51.12 The Commission describes this Communication
as a contribution to the programme of action outlined above. It
follows on from the report on conflict prevention presented by
the Secretary-General/High Representative and the Commission to
the Nice European Council.
Many of the main messages in the Communication are echoed and
endorsed in the European Programme document, which the Communication
predates by a couple of months. However, it goes into greater
51.13 The Communication summarises what the EU
is already doing, describes the instruments it has at its disposal,
both long and short term, and suggests possible future activities
for conflict prevention.
51.14 It is divided into three main sections:
(i) projecting stability
(ii) reacting quickly to nascent conflicts
(short-term prevention); and
(iii) enhancing international co-operation on
51.15 The Communication describes development
policy and other co-operation programmes as proving the most powerful
instruments at the Community's disposal for treating the root
causes of conflict. The Country Strategy Papers, which set out
the Community's assistance to each recipient, will be the key
tools for mainstreaming conflict prevention into co-operation
programmes. The Commission suggests that, in countries which show
a potential for conflict, there may be a need to focus external
aid on the emergence or re-emergence of a favourable political
environment. This means focussing on support for democracy, the
rule of law, and an independent media. Another approach to mainstreaming
is to find more effective ways, within the EU and in the wider
international context, to address cross-cutting issues which may
contribute to tension and conflict. The most important of these
are drugs, small arms, natural resources, environmental degradation,
population flows, human trafficking and to some extent, private
sector interests in unstable areas.
51.16 The Commission says that the EU should
improve its ability to react quickly where a situation in a particular
country seems to be entering a downward spiral. It continues:
"This clearly requires
an effective early warning system. In pre-crisis situations, many
Community instruments including new ones such as the Rapid Reaction
Mechanism can be used. The EU can deploy a variety of options
ranging from political dialogue to Special Representatives and
including, in the future, civilian crisis management mechanisms.
All of these may be improved, made more systematic and flexible.
But in any case they need to be based on a common political line
between EU Member States".
51.17 Stressing that the EU must be able to respond
in a timely and tailor-made fashion, with an appropriate mix of
instruments, the Commission concludes that, ultimately, this is
not just a question of streamlined decision-making and management
procedures but, more fundamentally, of the common political will
51.18 Amongst practical points made in the Communication
- the Special Representatives should be used more
widely as mediators;
- the civilian and military crisis-management tools
being developed in the context of the European Security and Defence
Policy could be used to deal with the earliest stages of incipient
conflict, in a preventive, "pre-crisis" role; and
- the EU should work with the UN and OSCE in training
personnel for deployment on international missions on the rule
of law and civil administration, where the lack of suitably qualified
and available personnel ready for deployment is a major problem.
51.19 In conclusion, the Commission proposes
that it should build the objectives of peace, democracy and political
and social stability more clearly into its assistance programmes.
It should also ensure that its assistance programmes take account
of political exclusion, ethnic, social or regional marginalisation,
environmental degradation or other factors which, if unchecked,
might lead to civil strife or violent confrontation.
51.20 This document was noted by the 31 May Development
Council in its Conclusions
as a "key contribution to the overarching ambitions to improve
EU capabilities for conflict prevention". The Council's response
would be incorporated within the European Programme.
The Government's view
51.21 In a letter dated 19 June, the Minister
for Europe (Peter Hain) tells us that the 11 June General Affairs
Council agreed in principle to the Programme and that the final
text was endorsed by the European Council of 15-16 June. He notes
that the Programme is directly linked to the Communication and
regrets that the timing of the European Council, together with
the Parliamentary Recess, did not allow for the Programme to be
cleared before it was agreed.
51.22 The Minister points out that the UK has
played a key role in pushing conflict prevention up the international
agenda and the Government was pleased that the Swedish Presidency
took such an interest in the subject. In particular, the Government
welcomes the focus in these documents on "a root-cause approach".
51.23 In an Explanatory Memorandum dated 17 July,
the Minister comments specifically on the two documents as follows:
"EU Programme for
the Prevention of Violent Conflict
"HMG supports this programme, which is in line
with our objective of mainstreaming conflict prevention in the
work of international organisations. We particularly support increased
co-ordination with other organisations (UN, OSCE, NATO etc), as
well as the focus on root causes of conflict.
"Commission Communication on Conflict Prevention
"We welcome the Commission's intention to take
a genuinely long-term and integrated approach to conflict prevention,
using a range of policy instruments. The Communication makes a
range of ambitious recommendations, not all of which, as the Commission
recognises, are within the Commission's competence. Further work
is also needed on the details of the instruments proposed in order
to ensure cross-pillar coherence and complementarity."
51.24 EU development aid is certainly a powerful
instrument, as the Commission suggests. However, the Communication
does not address the question of what path the EU should pursue
when beneficiary countries do not welcome this aid being made
conditional upon internal political reforms and commitment to
democratic principles. What legitimate role the EU should play
in "pre-crisis" situations in other countries is also
a major question which is not addressed in these papers. However,
the papers make an important contribution to the issue of the
EU's approach to conflict prevention.
51.25 In the Programme, the Secretary-General/High
Representative, relevant Council bodies and the Commission are
said to be tasked with identifying priority areas and regions
for EU preventive actions. We assume that these bodies will present
their identifications to the Council for endorsement.
51.26 We realise that work in this area is
moving forward apace and that some of the questions we pose here
are likely to be answered in subsequent papers, so we now clear
both these documents, but ask the Government to keep us informed
of further substantial developments.
89 Paragraph 52. Back
May 2001 Development Council Press Release No. 8855/01, pages
16 to 18 of on-line version. Back
Not submitted for scrutiny. Back
Release No. 8855/01, pages 19 and 20 of on-line version. Back