EU external assistance fund supports military’s civilian actions for first time
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EU external assistance fund supports military’s civilian actions for first time

  • EU funding for the military under exceptional circumstances
  • Support to build hospitals, but not buy weapons or train soldiers

EU fund for stability and peace, covering projects in 70 countries, will be beefed up by 100 million euros to support the military’s civilian tasks in third countries.

Training, mentoring and advising military forces in countries outside the EU on topics such as human rights or protection of women and children, as well as the provision of non-lethal equipment or infrastructure, such as IT systems or hospitals, will now be eligible for EU support.

Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs gave the informal deal clinched by EP and Council negotiators on 27 October the green light, which for the first time, will allow the EU fund for stability and peace to finance the military in partner countries to deliver development activities. However, this will only be possible under the following conditions: if the partner country and the EU agree that the military are key to preserving peace or overcoming a crisis and civilian forces are deemed not able to cope with the challenge.

MEPs and Commission to check if EU money goes to the right place

MEPs negotiators, led by EP rapporteur Arnaud Danjean (EPP, FR), secured a commitment to keep the Parliament duly informed about the implementation of the new rules, and asked the Commission to assess the impact and effectiveness of the EU external assistance fund by June 2020.

They also succeeded in convincing the Council and the Commission not to use EU development money to finance these new tasks, but to use other funding sources available under the EU foreign affairs budget.

Support for the military has until now always been excluded, even though in some cases it is the only body capable of restoring security and basic services. Under no conditions can EU support be given to building up foreign armies, buying weapons or training in combat techniques.

Next steps

The informal agreement was backed by Foreign Affairs Committee by 27 votes to 7, with 2 abstentions. It will go to the full House vote on 29-30 November, followed by a vote by the Council in December.

Quick facts 

water desalination plant in the Gaza strip, the training of civilian experts for crisis management missions and the deradicalisation of young people in Bangladesh.

The fund started out in 2014 with a budget of EUR 2.3 billion for 2014-2020, replacing the Instrument for Stability (IfS) and several other instruments that focused on drugs, landmines, displaced people, crisis management, rehabilitation and reconstruction.