20th anniversary of the EU Programme for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts

In June 2001, the European Council adopted the EU Programme for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts, also known as the ‘Gothenburg Programme’, which represented the first formal commitment to conflict prevention in the European Union’s (EU) external action. Since then, the EU has developed several new policies, guidance tools and training for conflict analysis and early warning, and created dedicated structures to support conflict prevention and peacebuilding (CPPB).

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Gothenburg Programme, EPLO organised a Civil Society Dialogue Network (CSDN) Policy Meeting (PM) entitled ‘Twenty years after the Gothenburg Programme on Conflict Prevention: What next for the EU as a Global Peace Actor?’. This meeting provided the opportunity for participants to reflect on the EU’s engagement for conflict prevention, and to identify trends and challenges for the EU as a global peace actor in the next 20 years.

Civil society participants made the following key points and recommendations:

  • Over the last 20 years, the EU made significant efforts to strengthen conflict prevention in its external action, including by making conflict analysis more systematic in its programme cycles, improving early warning, and enhancing coherence in policy implementation.

  • The EU’s added value in CPPB lies in several elements, including its commitment to engage in the long term, its convening power, its financial resources, its willingness to invest in conflict-affected countries and regions, its relative neutrality, and its ability to combine these various assets.
  • In order to improve its performance, the EU should enhance the coordination within its institutions between the units responsible for political decisions and those dealing with implementation, as well as reduce the disconnect between EU officials working in Brussels at the strategic level and staff in EU delegations at the operational level.
  • The EU should further its efforts to mainstream conflict analysis in EU decision-making and policy implementation, so that it is conducted more systematically and becomes part of the EU’s institutional culture. The EU should also ensure that the quality of its conflict analysis is constantly improving and is translated into action by dedicating more human and financial resources to it.
  • The EU should improve co-operation and coordination with local partners, including civil society organisations, in order to strengthen local capacity to conduct conflict analysis, improve collection for information, and reduce inefficiencies of CPPB measures.

These recommendations are explored in more detail in the meeting report.

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