On November 18, 2020, EU Member States’ ambassadors met to discuss a new funding instrument that presents a fundamental shift towards a more military approach in EU foreign policy. The European Peace Facility (EPF), a proposed €5 billion new financial instrument to fund EU-backed military and training operations abroad, means the EU would effectively be able to train and equip foreign military and security forces with lethal weapons – with little safeguards or caveats on how this support would be used.
In its current form, the EPF risks fueling conflict and human rights abuses around the world, instead of its stated mission of preventing them.
CIVIC and 39 other organizations called on EU member states and the European External Action Service to adopt safeguards to better protect civilians, promote civilian harm mitigation measures, and make sure international humanitarian law and the EU international commitments are respected.
Joint Civil Society Statement
EU Member States are currently negotiating a new financial instrument that would introduce fundamental changes to EU foreign policy. If passed in its current form, the €5bn European Peace Facility (EPF) would finance EU-backed military operations and activities abroad, including the possibility to train and equip with lethal weapons foreign military and security forces under the EU flag. By creating this new off-budget facility, Member States are circumventing the EU treaties under which the EU budget cannot be used for the provision of arms. They also place the EU in a position to adopt more militaristic approaches to supporting certain governments, including in terms of training, equipping, and ‘mentoring’ local military and security forces.
The undersigned civil society organisations warn that the proposed facility not only fails to address the root causes of conflict, but also risks fuelling violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL), while increasing the risk of harm to civilians overall.
If EU Member States do go ahead in adopting the EPF, they must:
- Improve conflict prevention and civilian harm prevention and mitigation;
- Exclude the transfer of lethal weapons from the proposal; and
- Adopt a due diligence framework to ensure the facilities’ activities are conducted in accordance with international law.