Home News The European Peace Facility and the Legitimation of European Arms Exports

The European Peace Facility and the Legitimation of European Arms Exports


In March 2021, the Council of the European Union (EU) agreed upon a call to determine the ‘European Peace Facility’ (EPF), together with a controversial provision permitting the European Union to arm non-EU actors by its so-called ‘train-and-equip’ element. That is the primary time that the EU will be capable of immediately provide army coalitions and nationwide armies with arms, which was unimaginable below the authorized restrictions that ruled its predecessors. The €5bn fund combines spending for army operations – previously financed by the Athena mechanism – and the previous ‘African Peace Facility’, a growth instrument for supporting safety in Africa. Whereas the EPF is international in its ambition, its important focus is anticipated to be on the African continent.

Peace organizations in Europe have raised the alarm about these developments, particularly because the EPF permits for the supply of small arms, which ‘frequently [cause] the most harm and [are] most at risk of misuse and diversion in fragile contexts’. In a joint assertion printed in November 2020, 40 civil society organizations warned that the EPF not solely fails to handle the foundation causes of battle, but additionally dangers exacerbating them. As well as, arms management specialists have pointed to the lengthy life-span of small arms, notably inside areas that the EPF will likely be specializing in, such because the Horn of Africa, which ‘are [already] awash with weapons that have accumulated over decades of war’. Nonetheless, the EU has maintained that safety and stability in these areas can solely be supplied with (extra) weapons. As EU Excessive Consultant for International Affairs and Safety Coverage and Vice-President of the Fee (HRVP) Josep Borrell said in relation to the EPF: ‘We’d like weapons, we want arms, we want army capacities and that’s what we’re going to assist present to our African mates’.

Elsewhere, we now have argued that the case of the EPF must be understood in opposition to the background of a wider ambition on the a part of the European Fee and European Exterior Motion Service, shared by a number of member states, to show the EU right into a extra militarised, muscular, and masculine safety actor. Maybe most vital on this respect is the institution of the European Defence Fund (EDF), which supplies virtually €8bn from the EU’s widespread price range for defence-related analysis and growth between 2021–27, with the devoted purpose of supporting the European defence business. Constructing on insights from feminist safety research, our earlier work has proven how these developments inside EU safety and defence are a part of – and additional contribute to – a normalisation of militarism and the militarised masculinities related to it (Hoijtink & Muehlenhoff, 2020). Specifically, each the EDF and the EPF draw on, and additional justify, concepts of ‘protector’ and ‘fight’ masculinity inside EU safety discourse and follow, which relate to the concept individuals in danger and Europe’s pursuits at house and overseas can solely be protected and defended via ‘sturdy’ safety establishments and ‘actual’ power.

Within the case of the EPF, there may be additionally a special set of masculinities at play, which closely depend on concepts of rationality and a risk-based strategy to conflict, battle and arms transfers. A key facet of the EPF is its Built-in Methodological Framework (IMF), which units out a danger evaluation process that’s to be adopted within the case of EU help measures, together with the supply of deadly armaments. On a questions and solutions’ (Q&A) webpage devoted to the framework, the IMF is described as ‘a strong course of with tips and factors to be examined, on a case-by-case foundation, and in a sound and proportionate method in keeping with the specifics of every help measures’. Whereas displayed in these imprecise and technocratic/rationalist phrases, the IMF truly constitutes a extremely political follow: it assesses which classes of actor(s), below which circumstances, might be trusted with the army gear delivered by the EU on the premise of standards, reminiscent of compliance with export management standards, respect of worldwide regulation and bodily safety and stockpile administration.

From different literature (e.g. Stachowitsch & Sachseder, 2019), we all know that such practices of danger evaluation depend on and reconstitute racialized and gendered classes of danger, vulnerability and care. However, within the case of the EPF, in addition they rationalize the EU’s weapons supply to 3rd actors and divert extra political questions. Certainly, the IMF and the EPF extra broadly are based mostly on the predetermined assumption that armaments provision by European states is already reputable and to not be questioned. As Anna Stavrianakis (2016, 847) additionally argues, ‘the incorporation of danger into arms commerce regulation is [hence] higher understood by way of the upkeep of the legitimacy of conflict within the West’. Threat evaluation frameworks such because the IMF merely regulate the arms commerce of others, whereas legitimising arms exports from the World North to the World South and reaffirming their consideration of people rights and Worldwide Humanitarian Regulation (IHL).

You will need to observe that the EPF is financed by member states’ contributions outdoors the EU’s widespread price range. Which means that the duty for the EPF is within the fingers of the Council whereas the European Parliament solely has an advisory place and no parliamentary management, which is why the Council tries to reassure critics that the supply of weapons will happen in accordance with ‘worldwide requirements’. In essence, the IMF underlines that the EU will observe worldwide regulation and the Arms Commerce Treaty (ATT), which has beforehand been topic to the criticism that it merely legitimises the arms commerce and maintains racialised international hierarchies, as described within the above. On the identical time, the provisions throughout the EPF are even weaker than these of the ATT. Though the Council Decision on the EPF emphasizes that it’s going to adjust to the Widespread Place 2008/944/CFSP on widespread guidelines governing controls of EU member states’ exports of army expertise and gear, the EU Widespread Place replace in 2019 did not amend the Place’s language to deliver it in step with the ATT, which requires State Events to chorus from exporting any army gear if there may be the chance that it’s getting used ‘to commit or facilitate severe acts of gender-based violence or severe acts of violence in opposition to girls and youngsters’ (ATT, Artwork. 7.4.).

Up to now, precise particulars in regards to the IMF and the way it will likely be operationalised are missing, however the case of the Sahel provides us some clues about how and the place the EPF will likely be used and what’s at stake. The latest EU’s Integrated Strategy in the Sahel mentions the EPF as an instrument that may be mobilized to  ‘help army or defence capability-building actions, together with in help of the mandates of CSDP missions, to help the G5 Sahel Joint Pressure and state establishments’, even when these state establishments are recognized for committing human rights violations as the identical EU doc recognises. Whereas the EU’s Built-in Technique within the Sahel means that the EU’s involvement serves a complete checklist of objectives, together with the safety of weak populations and the strengthening of human rights and gender equality, the EU’s important exercise right here takes the type of two civilian (EUCAP Sahel Niger and EUCAP Sahel Mali) and one army mission (EUTM Mali), that are aimed toward strengthening the capabilities of defence and safety forces, quickly additionally by the provision of deadly weapons. This fashion, the EU merely pursues ‘conventional’ safety objectives with a concentrate on stopping migration to Europe and countering terrorism, whereas additional contributing to the insecurities of ladies and marginalized individuals.

The EPF doesn’t have any sturdy safeguards to stop such doable penalties, neither is the EU within the place to observe what occurs to the army gear it supplies ‘as soon as it’s handed over to companion governments and safety forces’ because the above talked about civil society assertion warns. The Council Decision states that the Political and Safety Committee (in command of the implementation) ‘could determine to droop wholly or partially the implementation of help measures on the request of a Member State or the Excessive Consultant (…) if the state of affairs within the nation or space of concern now not permits for the measure to be carried out while guaranteeing ample ensures’. Such suspension appears unlikely, nevertheless, as, in keeping with the Q&A-webpage on the IMF, ‘[t]his is a extremely political choice that may solely be made on a case-by-case foundation and in keeping with the precise context’.

In conclusion, the EPF must be understood as additional accelerating the EU’s flip to militarism and masculinised energy, whereas additionally elevating new questions on how danger administration practices deem army help and arms provisions reputable. These developments are all of the extra troubling due to the EPF’s off-budget construction and lack of oversight. The IMF constitutes a picture of goal and depoliticised management of the EPF ‘help measures’ whereas it serves to legitimise an additional militarisation of the EU’s exterior engagement and obscures the politics and penalties of this transfer.


Hoijtink M and Muehlenhoff HL (2020) The European Union as a Masculine Army Energy: European Union Safety and Defence Coverage in ‘Instances of Disaster’. Political Research Assessment 18(3): 362–377.

Stachowitsch S and Sachseder J (2019) The gendered and racialized politics of danger evaluation. The case of Frontex. Vital Research on Safety 7(2): 107–123.

Stavrianakis A (2016) Legitimising liberal militarism: politics, regulation and conflict within the Arms Commerce Treaty. Third World Quarterly 37(5): 840–865.

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