The African Union (AU) has missed a vital opportunity to discuss a shift in European funding for peace and security. The European Union (EU) announced this decision in 2021 as part of its new defense package. Under the new agreement, the European Peace Facility (EPF) replaces the African Peace Facility (APF), which for 17 years channeled EU security funding through the AU.
A lack of preparation and consensus ahead of the February AU-EU summit meant there was no common African position on the issue, so it was not raised at the meeting.
Change means less money for African peacekeeping missions and less AU says on how the funds are spent. But it could also signal growing European militarism and interventionism. Developments in European foreign and security policy allowed the EU to provide military support to Ukraine following the February 24 Russian invasion. The EPF meant that the EU could, for the first time, supply lethal weapons to a third country.
Europe’s military support for Ukraine has raised concerns in Africa about whether similar interventions could take place on the continent. Research by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has shown that some experts fear that the EU’s new strategy will benefit Africa as a whole and may even have serious negative consequences.
Although the new facility promises to build the capacity of EU partners and provide predictable funding, it could threaten multilateral engagement between the two continents and Africa’s collective decision-making on security.
The APF was founded in 2004 and has contributed €2.68 billion, primarily to fund 16 African-led peace support operations in 19 countries. Direct contributions from Member States have made the EU the main funder of African-led peace missions.
Governed by 2018 According to the AU-EU Memorandum of Understanding, the AU was primarily responsible for planning, authorizing, coordinating and disbursing EU funds to African-led peace operations. However, under the new facility, the AU is no longer the channel for European funding of military missions and operations in Africa.
The EU can now finance a direct military intervention by a Member State, such as the deployment of a task force in support of the French Operation Barkhane in Mali. Europe will also provide strategic guidance and political support to these missions, which could hamper AU leadership in peace operations.
Abandoning the APF in favor of direct engagement with stakeholders will also significantly reduce EU funding to the AU, especially peace missions such as Somalia.
According to the EU, one of the factors behind the change was a 2018 ruling by the European Court of Auditors report. He said the AU had failed to adequately fund its peace and security mechanisms, forcing the EU to cover operational costs rather than capacity building as planned. The report also cited the lack of coherence of AU funding instruments, lack of information on results and insufficient monitoring and evaluation.
Another factor is the change in Europe’s overall position on defense issues. The EU’s defense package for 2021 includes the European Defense Fund, which has allocated around €8 billion to strengthen Europe’s defense industrial base and increase its military autonomy from the United States. This indicates Europe’s ambition to influence and intervene in peace and security outcomes, including in Africa. European countries are driven by the effects of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa, and undocumented migrants entering their continent.
ISS research found that several AU member states fear that the EPF represents a shift in policy from political engagement to a militarized and interventionist approach. Although they recognize the challenges of using the APF by the AU, African officials believe that the main role of the EPF is to control how Europe’s money is used in Africa. and elsewhere.
The concern is that military intervention will make the EU a direct player in African conflicts, which could bring more foreign forces to the continent, with or without the consent of African states. Bilateral or regional interventions may not align with AU priorities or lack AU endorsement, sources told ISS. Experts also believe the new arrangement could lead to the proliferation of weapons across the continent.
The absence of an exhaustive list of EU partners complicates the situation. Although the AU, regional economic communities and AU member states are listed as partners, the definition is vague. African diplomats fear the list could include armed opposition groups fighting governments the EU opposes. A similar scenario unfolded in Libya in 2011 when EU Member States provided direct military support to armed groups fighting President Muammar Gaddafi.
The EU has not discussed the EPF arrangements with the AU because the new facility is a comprehensive strategy, with Africa being one of many ‘beneficiaries’. For its part, the AU Peace and Security Council did not address the issue until February’s AU-EU summit, despite having had nearly a year to formulate a response. According to AU sources, the EU had not officially informed it of the creation of the EPF or the abolition of the APF.
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Support for EPF in West Africa and the Sahel has divided Africa’s position on the new facility. Countries in these regions believe this helps to eliminate bureaucratic delays and overhead costs incurred by AU financial oversight. They also argue that the EPF will give African military missions more funds, modern technologies, capacity building and infrastructure.
Thus, while Europe has agreed on how to approach African peace and security issues, African countries do not share the same priorities and concerns regarding the foreign and security policy of the EU. EU. The AU, particularly its Peace and Security Council, should discuss the implications of the EPF for Africa.
Although AU-EU technical meetings are ongoing, the AU needs to formulate a political position on Europe’s potential supply lethal weapons to Africa. EU support for military operations that are neither led nor endorsed by the AU should also be discussed.
The AU needs a plan to make up for the financial shortfalls expected from Europe’s change in strategy under the EPF. A good starting point is to allocate money sitting in AU Peace Funds and accessing United Nations Assessed Contributions for Peace Missions in Africa.
Shewit Woldemichael, Research Fellow, Governance of Peace and Security in Africa, Institute for Security Studies (ISS)
This article has been drawn of the Institute for Security Studies’ draft PSC report.
(This article was first post by ISS Today, a syndication partner of Premium Times. We have their permission to republish).
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