All EU Member States have agreed to the new European Peace Facility (EPF) yesterday, a fund of more than EUR 5 billion that will be used to finance military training and equip militaries around the world. For the first time, these missions also include the delivery of lethal weapons. PAX is deeply concerned that the fund does not address the underlying causes of conflict and could worsen existing conflicts.
Anna Timmerman, General Director of PAX: “Today marks a concerning moment for the EU. There are serious risks involved with training and equipping security forces in conflict areas. As an organization working with people affected by conflict around the world, we see how these activities often escalate conflict, and can also lead to attacks on civilians. The EU and its member states must urgently put in place measures to reduce these risks, and must be responsive and accountable in the case of abuses.”
Protection of civilians must be a priority
The process of the EPF's conditions has been very untransparant, with limited opportunities for civil society to analyze the proposal. The EU must give priority to the protection of civilians, take participation of civil society seriously and take measures to reduce the risks of the European Peace Facility.
Rosie Ball, EU Advocacy Advisor at PAX: "Training and equipping security forces abroad is a dangerous exercise, which often worsens conflict dynamics and can contribute to abuses against civilians. While some EU member states have taken steps to try to mitigate the risks posed by the EPF, we are still very concerned about the damage that it could do, and that it could undermine the EU's peacebuilding, mediation and human rights work."
PAX calls on the EU to take steps to reduce the risk of conflict escalation, to engage with civil society and to respond effectively to all claims of abuse related to the EPF in the future. If the European Peace Facility is to live up to its name, it must not harm its civilians or fuel conflicts.