The next EU Multiannual Financial Framework

On 2 May, the European Commission (EC) published its overall proposal for the EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. According to the EC’s proposal:

  • Current Heading 3 (Security and Citizenship) would be replaced with Heading 4 (Migration & Border Management) and Heading 5 (Security &  Defence)
  • Current Heading 4 (Global Europe) would be renamed Heading 6 (Neighbourhood & the World)
  • The European Development Fund (EDF), which is currently off-budget, would be integrated into Heading 6
  • The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) should not be maintained as a separate instrument. However, a new ‘Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument’ (€89.5 billion) would include, inter alia, thematic pillars on ‘Stability and Peace’ and ‘Democracy & Human Rights / Civil Society in Development’,  and a ‘rapid response’ pillar for ‘quick response capacity for crisis management and conflict prevention, resilience building, including liking relief, rehabilitation and development, and short term foreign policy reaction’
  • There would be an off-budget ‘European Peace Facility’ to ‘close the current gap in the EU’s ability to conduct Common Security and Defence Policy missions and to provide military and defence assistance to relevant third countries, international and regional organisations’ (€10.5 billion)
  • There would be a ‘European Defence Fund’ (€ 13 billion) and a ‘Connecting Europe Facility – Military Mobility’ (€ 6.5 billion) under Heading 3.

Several organisations have published their initial reactions to the EC’s proposal:

In June 2018, the EC will publish legislative proposals for all of the financing instruments which are foreseen under the overall MFF proposal.

EPLO will publish its initial reaction to the EC’s legislative proposals in July 2018 based on the initial position which was set out in our February 2018 statement entitled ‘How will the EU support peacebuilding after 2020?’.

For more information about EPLO’s work on the next EU MFF, please contact Ben Moore.


Doing what is reasonable and routine: EU trade, development and due diligence in conflict-affected contexts


By Terri Beswick

Conflicts cost

The cost of conflict is undeniable. Counting the number of people who lose their lives from conflict, however, only tells part of the story. Those living with violence also face the additional costs of protracted psychological trauma, physical injury, sexual violence, destroyed infrastructure, mass displacement, divided families, homes lost and polarisation among societies. The consequences of conflict are far-reaching and clearly threaten the EU’s expressed core values of peace, security, sustainable development, poverty reduction, and human rights. Therefore, all the organs of European Union external action should be concerned with making sure that the EU’s engagement in environments affected by conflict (1) does no harm and (2) is designed to reduce the risks of conflict and maximise sustainable peace. For European populations funding development or delegating responsibility for EU trade relations through their governments, being aware of how the EU does ‘due diligence’ in such high-risk contexts is an important element of accountability.


Due diligence is often associated with a legal liability argument, as it places responsibility on actors to demonstrate that they did all that was reasonable in advance to avoid causing harm or damage. It is also associated with commercial contexts, where thorough research and analysis of the market, significant players, and consumer behaviour is seen as a reasonable and even routine step in order to avoid future losses and protect investments. The legal liability and commercial framing for due diligence maps neatly onto two EU responsibilities: (1) to do no harm and (2) to maximise the effectiveness of the time, human resources and financial investment in development and trade engagements. As a global actor with approximately 140 delegations and offices around the world, the EU is big business. It disbursed 10.3 billion EUR of overseas development aid in 2015 and represented around 60% of the world’s foreign direct investment for that year.

What would ‘due diligence’ look like in EU development and trade? 

In order to be precise about what to do and what to avoid doing to meet its responsibilities, the EU needs a broad and deepanalysis of the conflict context that incorporates the root causes, contemporary drivers, and the obvious and less obvious stakeholders, and covers the many facets of the conflict. To meet the criterion of being ‘due’ and ‘diligent’, this kind of analysis cannot be ad hoc, optional or superficial.

  1. The first component of due diligence in conflict-affected environments is an obligation to analyse the political, economic, social, environmental and security aspects of the context and to explicitly make the link to the risks of violence. If a commercial actor were entering such an uncertain and high-risk context, it would be remiss for it to focus purely on economic, financial or business analysis while disregarding the broader factors that influence and interact with those sectors. Likewise, though the central government and security sector may appear to be the most relevant sectors for analysis at first glance, conflict requires a much broader lens. Analysis of economic mismanagement in Venezuela, the geopolitics of trade in Ukraine, demographic shifts in South Africa, divided households and gender roles in Kyrgyzstan, drought and rural-urban migration in Syria, and the abuse of security forces and the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria all make the case for analysing multiple facets of a context.
  2. The second component of due diligence relates to a need to understand the full spectrum of conflict stakeholders at various levels, including non-state actors and population groups. In commercial terms this would be the equivalent of being able to identify the key players in a market, as well as those with the capacity to influence it, and importantly the behaviours and preferences of consumers. Conflict stakeholders could be (directly and indirectly) affected population groups, those most active in the conflict, those carrying out violence, allies, spoilers, and even the international and regional actors with aid engagements in the context. The term ‘conflict stakeholders’ should quite literally encompass all those who have a ‘stake’ in the conflict. Without this clarification, the term ‘stakeholder’ in isolation has little meaning. Consequently, analysis of conflict stakeholders is clearly a more expansive task than what is understood by more commonly used aid language, which only extends to mean ‘vulnerable groups’, ‘civil society’, ‘leaders’ or ‘local communities’.
  3. At some point, thorough analysis of the context has to be linked to more reflective assessment to identify the opportunities and limitations of the EU as an actor. This generated a third component: reflection on the position and perceptions of the EU in the conflict context. After all, the messenger can be as important as the message. This aspect of due diligence analysis would look at whether the EU is best positioned to engage, which is just as relevant for development and trade as it would be for other foreign policy engagements such as diplomacy. Though this is more likely to be factored in at the initial strategic decision-making stage, the speed with which dynamics evolve in conflict-affected contexts recommends a frequent process that is tied to flexible decision-making, for example on the adaptation of development programmes, as is foreseen to some degree in the EU’s risk management framework for budget support.
  4. The fourth component is designed to probe theories of change that overestimate positive effects or overlook conflict risk in the design, implementation or evaluation of development programming or trade. While there is global recognition of (and increasingly data that demonstrate) the economic and developmental damage resulting from conflict, the relationship is not unidirectional. Unequal development and economic marginalisation can themselves drive conflict. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the potential positive and negative interactions between the EU’s development and trade engagements and the conflict dynamics in the given context(s) to maximise effectiveness (commercial due diligence) and to avoid harm (legal due diligence). This would mean a shift to assessing impact in a way that can reveal when even ‘successful’ development programming or access to international trade might have a negative effect on a conflict, for example by shifting the dynamics of political or economic power in a context, and triggering a negative reaction from one or more conflict stakeholders.
  5. Ultimately, due diligence is not research in a vacuum: it is undertaken for the sole purpose of making decisions or adjusting a course of action to be more prudent and to be better able to avoid possible harm. This means that a due diligence process is only complete if and when it shapes real decisions. The fifth component, therefore, relates to opportunities embedded in EU development programming cycles and the milestones of EU trade relations to review whether the instrument or approach is appropriate and able to meet conflict prevention and/or peacebuilding objectives given the analysis revealed by due diligence research. Or more simply, whether the structure of EU development and trade instruments allows for failing interventions to be either abandoned or adapted in the interest of reducing the risks of violence occurring.

The ambition to prevent conflict and promote peace in EU development and trade

According to the European Centre for Development Policy Management, the EU’s institutions and selected EU Member States are among the biggest supporters of peacebuilding, representing five out of the top ten conflict, peace and security donors (measured in terms of aid contributions). At the same time, the EU has reiterated its commitment to conflict prevention and peace in treaties, policies, statements, and speeches for more than 15 years. Expertise in managing conflict and promoting peace is presented as an intrinsic characteristic of the European Union project. Thus, the analysis of the EU’s due diligence with regard to key development and trade instruments given in the EU-CIVCAP report ‘Due Diligence in Contexts Affected by Conflict: EU Development Aid and Trade’ offers a systematic analysis of how the EU seeks to meet its commitments to preventing conflict and promoting peace in practice. The proposed due diligence framework may be ambitious, but with so much at stake it does not make sense to set the bar low.

The fifth AU-EU Summit: Supporting youth, peace and security in the AU-EU Partnership


By Lorenzo Angelini

On 29-30 November 2017, the fifth AU-EU Summit was held in Abidjan. The meeting, whose theme was ‘Investing in youth’, was an occasion for European and African leaders to redefine and give new impetus to the AU-EU Partnership. Ahead of the summit, EPLO published a statement on ‘Supporting Youth, Peace and Security in the renewed AU-EU Partnership’. In it, we stated that an increased participation of civil society, including young men and women [1] and youth-led organisations from Africa and Europe, in both policy formulation and the implementation of activities related to peacebuilding and conflict prevention, can make a significant contribution to the achievement of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy’s (JAES) objective of strengthening and promoting peace and security.

The political declaration that resulted from the Summit strongly emphasised the importance of creating decent employment opportunities for young women and men. In this light, and given how the summit unfolded, some key points from our statement seem particularly pertinent:

  • Firstly, it is crucial that EU efforts (and partnerships with the private sector) to support the creation of decent employment opportunities, in particular for young men and women, are implemented in a conflict- and gender-sensitive manner, and are sensitive to youth needs.
  • Secondly, the EU’s support to the youth, peace and security (YPS) agenda in the framework of the AU-EU Partnership should be based on the principle of ownership and on the needs of young women and men as identified and defined by them. Based on their relevant expertise, young men and women from Africa and Europe should participate in defining EU priorities and in the development of EU actions on YPS.
  • Thirdly, through its support to the operationalisation of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA), the EU should strongly promote the participation of young women and men, and of civil society in general, in their decision-making processes.
  • Fourthly, the EU should provide more extensive and long-term support (notably through actions involving capacity building and direct financing) to peacebuilding initiatives in Africa engaging young men and women, youth-led organisations and civil society organisations in general. In doing so, the EU should be flexible and adapt its support to their needs and their initiatives as they design, manage and implement them.

In addition, in order to achieve the JAES’ objective of promoting a ‘people-centred partnership’ and in a global context of shrinking space for civil society, it is essential that the structures of the AU-EU Partnership themselves provide space for the participation of civil society actors, including of young women and men and youth-led organisations. It was therefore extremely disappointing that civil society representatives were prevented from addressing the AU-EU Summit despite being scheduled to present the declaration agreed at the 3rd Africa-EU Civil Society Forum in July. [2] Although several EU officials and European leaders expressed their support for civil society during and after the Summit [3], it is crucial to further defend and institutionnalise civil society participation in the AU-EU Partnership. Civil society representatives, including young men and women and youth-led organisations, should be able to provide the relevant AU-EU bodies with regular reports and briefings on the implementation of the JAES and of the Partnership’s strategic priorities. They should also be involved in shaping these priorities.

Overall, the EU should continue to enhance and strengthen its support to young women and men and youth-led organisations, and to civil society in general, in the framework of the AU-EU Partnership. Young men and women should be provided with opportunities (and the means) to participate in an inclusive, systematic and meaningful manner in political processes, and particular attention should be paid to their different needs and aspirations.

Lorenzo Angelini is the Policy Officer responsible for EPLO’s work in pursuit of its Policy Objective 3 (To integrate peacebuilding into EU development policy, programmes and approaches).


[1] This also includes non-binary people.

[2] Despite initially facing similar opposition, youth representatives from the European Youth Forum and the Pan-African Youth Forum were eventually able to address the plenary, thanks in particular to the support of the EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and of various EU Member States. Civil society representatives, however, remained barred from addressing the event.

[3] See for example this comment from EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, and this speech from the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven.

Gender analysis: Making P/CVE more effective


By Dr Laura Davis

In October, EPLO organised a Civil Society Dialogue Network meeting ‘Preventing/countering violent extremism more effectively: Experience from the ground’ between practitioners from a range of contexts (e.g. Jordan, Tunisia, Lebanon, Nigeria, Niger) and EU officials.

The need to be “context specific” has become a mantra for preventing and/or countering violent extremism (P/CVE) effectively. EU and Member State P/CVE policies and programmes are highly gendered – the violent perpetrator is usually assumed to be a young man, for example – yet the context analysis underpinning these policies rarely includes any gender analysis. Context analysis that does not integrate gender analysis is not fit for purpose.

Violent groups often have highly gendered recruitment policies that offer different women specific opportunities and recognise their agency. These are particularly effective when girls and women feel excluded in their communities. In contrast, P/CVE policies are often based on untested assumptions. This means that women/girls are either ignored or assumed to be passive, victims and/or nonviolent. The Western male gaze may think of women’s power as “hidden” but this is not hidden to these women or their communities. The possibility that women/girls may make a rational choice to join a violent group based on their assessment of their best interests/the interests of their communities is not considered, neither is the possibility that men may be primarily victims of violence (e.g. by Boko Haram/state security agents) rather than perpetrators.

There is plenty of good practice on the ground for ensuring that context analysis is gender inclusive that EU and Member State officials can learn from. Practitioners conduct detailed analysis of the gender dynamics (i.e. the power relationships between different men and different women, boys and girls in different circumstances, bearing in mind that no group is homogenous) at play in communities at risk of VE. These processes are often highly consultative, including of groups (e.g. girls) who are often considered “hard to reach” and going beyond urban, elite groups who may otherwise give a distorted view of the situation. These analytical processes and their outcomes are more legitimate, credible and robust when owned by the different parts of the communities concerned.

VE flourishes in unequal, exclusive and corrupt societies, particularly where the state security apparatus is abusive. Gender, social, ethnic and religious equality including equal access to services and resources can reduce the attraction of VE groups. Measures that reduce equality or strengthen a non-responsive state heighten the risk of VE. Rather than treating the promotion of gender equality as a luxury add-on – as the EU and its Member States tend to do – P/CVE policies and programmes for working with state and non-state actors should be rooted in promoting gender equality as this works against the patrimonial and exclusive forms of governance that feed VE.

In a direct echo of colonial ‘indirect rule,’ donors too often seek out easy interlocutors – the loudest – rather than the most legitimate (note that legitimacy looks different to different people). External actors often reinforce regressive social or religious ‘leaders’ at the expense of women, young women and men, and other non-elite men. Local civil society, including women and women’s associations, youth organisations and organisations led by young men and young women, play a crucial role in articulating positive alternatives to VE. These voices should shape donor advocacy, not vice versa. Instrumentalising women and women’s associations in P/CVE will reduce women’s status and agency still further, but promoting gender equality and organisations that work to improve women and girls’ inclusion and status in their communities should be part of core programming.

Dr Laura Davis is the Senior Associate responsible for EPLO’s work in pursuit of its Policy Objective 4 (To strengthen the implementation of a gender-sensitive approach in EU policy and practice which enables the EU to be more inclusive and effective in promoting peace).

Joint Communication: ‘A Strategic Approach to Resilience in the EU’s external action’ – An opportunity for more political, long-term EU engagement in volatile contexts?


By Dr Laura Davis


The EU Global Strategy (EUGS) marks a shift in how EU leaders see the EU’s role in the world. The 2003 European Security Strategy – for all its flaws – emphasised EU contribution to a better world by promoting values in its external action. The EUGS defines the EU’s external action in terms of defending the EU’s interests, without clearly articulating what these are. External action was always interest-based, of course, but this shift in discourse – and particularly the important position of the interests of the European arms trade in the EUGS – reflects a political climate in which external action is subordinated to stemming migration to the EU as fast as possible, and not necessarily by addressing the causes of forced migration.

In this broader political context, the Joint Communication: ‘A Strategic Approach to Resilience in the EU’s External Action’ offers some opportunities for addressing the root causes of conflict and suffering, common causes of displacement. It offers a very broad definition of resilience, which covers individuals, communities, societies and states – but two important characteristics stand out. First, it recognises the need for a political rather than purely technical approach to external action. Second, it recognises ‘the need to move away from crisis containment to a more structural, long-term, non-linear approach to vulnerabilities, with an emphasis on anticipation, prevention and preparedness.’

The Communication also gives some cause for concern. Women and girls get a couple of mentions, but gender equality has not been integrated. We know from thousands of years of experience that unless women’s rights are explicitly included in human rights, they are quickly overlooked, while the rights of gender and sexual minorities are rarely included from the outset. As with other EU policy documents, men and boys are absent and gender-less: their agency is assumed and their contribution to gender equality is not required. The underlying assumption is that women and gender minorities have to free themselves from oppressive social norms to bring about equality.

The emphasis on conflict prevention and the long-term, non-linear needs for building resilience in the Communication is welcome. There is, however, implicit tension with these and the short-term roles foreseen for Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions.

A particular area of concern is the ‘capacity building’ of state security services in fragile contexts. When divorced from reform programmes that ensure civilian oversight, centralised command and control and robust accountability mechanisms, ‘capacity building’ risks reverting to old-style ‘train and equip’ projects. The danger here is that abusive security agents become more resilient to reform and better equipped to abuse civilians and engage in organised crime, including trafficking migrants.

Finally, civic space is crucial for resilience. The “Arab Spring” has shown how brittle authoritarian regimes can be when faced with opposition. It has led to a cultural paradigm shift in which young men and women are more willing to express their dissent. Yet civic space is closing fast – and faster for women than for men. If civil society organisations’ main roles are as service providers, this is a sign of inadequate civic space and therefore poor resilience. Civic space is a mark of resilience.

As with all other policies, the value of the Communication will be proven in its implementation. Above all, the EU needs political leadership at every level to guide interventions based on rigorous analysis that integrates gender analysis as a matter of course. The challenge for EU external action has never been inadequate tools – when it has had clear objectives, it has used its available instruments and created new ones as needed. Without clear political leadership, based on the Treaty principles that govern external action, the instruments will never be fit for purpose no matter how carefully they are designed.

Dr Laura Davis is the Senior Associate responsible for EPLO’s work in pursuit of its Policy Objective 4 (To strengthen the implementation of a gender-sensitive approach in EU policy and practice which enables the EU to be more inclusive and effective in promoting peace).

The new European Consensus on Development


By Lorenzo Angelini


With the recent adoption of the new European Consensus on Development (ECD), the EU and its member states (MS) have put forward what they have described as their new ‘collective vision for development policy.’[1] It will notably help to guide their implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Like the 2030 Agenda, the new ECD puts strong emphasis on the link between sustainable development and peace. In this blog article, I will offer my personal thoughts on the new ECD as it pertains to EU support to conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

Recognition of the link between peace and sustainable development

As part of the EU’s response to the 2030 Agenda and to ‘current global challenges and opportunities’,[2] the new ECD is more encompassing than its 2005 predecessor and seeks to address some of its limitations. From a peacebuilding perspective, it includes several encouraging elements. The eleven-paragraph-long Section 2.4 is entitled ‘Peace – Peaceful and inclusive societies, democracy, effective and accountable institutions, rule of law and human rights for all’. References to peace and peaceful societies can also be found in other sections, as the document stresses the existence of interlinkages between poverty, conflict and fragility. It argues that the root causes of these issues need to be addressed in a comprehensive manner, and that development co-operation should be used ‘as part of the full range of policies and instruments to prevent, manage and help resolve conflicts and crises, avert humanitarian needs and build lasting peace and good governance’ (although development co-operation’s primary focus remains ‘poverty eradication in all its dimensions’).

This renewed recognition of the connection between sustainable development and peace is indispensable, as violent conflicts are a foremost obstacle to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including its SDG 1 (‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’). Beyond this link, the ECD mentions the need to embrace a ‘long-term vision’ in order to find sustainable solutions to vulnerability and crises, calling for more effective synergies between peace, humanitarian and development actions (while acknowledging the necessity to uphold humanitarian principles). In this light, countries in situations of conflict and fragility are included among the priority targets for development co-operation. The EU and EU MS also assert that they will ‘integrate conflict sensitivity in all their work’ and build ‘risk assessments and gap analysis into their development cooperation programmes’ – an essential requirement to help ensure development actions respect the ‘do no harm’ principle. In addition, explicit support for the national and local ownership of development and peacebuilding processes can be found throughout the ECD.

The empowerment of people and of civil society

Another crucial aspect of effective peacebuilding actions is the need to adopt people-centered approaches. Human security is evoked three times in the new ECD, and it is highlighted as a key focus of EU efforts in security sector reform (SSR) in partner countries. Although the role of youth in peace building is not addressed in Section 2.4, particular attention is given earlier in the document to young people as ‘agents of development and change’, the aim being to ‘strengthen the rights of young people and their empowerment in the conduct of public affairs.’ The necessity to achieve progress with regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is also repeatedly emphasised, as the EU and EU MS stress that women should be supported ‘as positive agents for conflict prevention, conflict resolution, relief and recovery, and building sustainable peace’. This is of particular importance given that women are still too often described solely as victims who require protection (in particular in conflict situations), rather than as agents of change who should be equal participants in political and peacebuilding processes. The new ECD also expresses support for the political inclusion of minorities and of persons in vulnerable and marginalised situations.

In the current context of shrinking space for civil society in a number of countries, the EU and EU MS declare that they will defend ‘an open and enabling space for civil society, inclusive approaches and transparency in decision-making at all levels.’ They commit to ‘engaging with all stakeholders in conflict-prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes’, and state their support for multi-stakeholder and multi-level approaches throughout the new ECD. Likewise, in its section on partnerships, it promotes capacity building initiatives aimed at enabling civil society and other non-governmental actors to play their part in ‘designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating sustainable development strategies.’ As the obstacles faced by civil society organisations (CSOs) in different countries can take many forms, it is also vital for the EU to help build their capacity to engage their governments at all levels and at all stages of the policy-making process.

Limitations and future challenges

Despite these positive elements, the new ECD has a number of shortfalls. Firstly, although it asserts that the EU and EU MS’ joint implementation of development co-operation will be an inclusive process, open to contributions from civil society and other non-governmental actors, one-off consultations are still too often the norm. The EU and its partner countries need to develop institutionalised participatory processes in order to allow civil society actors (in particular local CSOs) to play a more meaningful, systematic and ongoing role in the shaping and monitoring of development strategies and financing. In this context, structured mechanisms of coordination with CSOs should be an essential pillar, with direct funding, of EU support to civil society. Similarly, while engaging in ‘capacity building for nationally owned monitoring frameworks, quality data collection, disaggregation and analysis’ can be of significant help to partner countries in their implementation of the 2030 Agenda, such help should not only be directed at governments but also at civil society actors and citizens in order to create pluralistic data ecosystems and to enhance the capacity of CSOs to engage in monitoring and evaluation activities.

Secondly, as mentioned above, the new ECD stresses that the EU and EU MS will ‘integrate conflict sensitivity in all their work’, states that actions should be tailored to local contexts (and thus argues that European development efforts should be characterised by flexible decision-making and implementation), and supports the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Yet, the new ECD would have benefited from a more extensive commitment to the further institutionalisation, at the European level, of cross-cutting conflict-, context- and gender-sensitive analysis at all stages of the policy process. Indeed, an in-depth understanding of local realities, power dynamics and capacities is needed at each of the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation phases, to guarantee the validity of the analysis, the effectiveness of actions and their adherence to the ‘do no harm’ principle. Gender analysis, in particular, should be fully integrated into any conflict analysis, rather than treated as an occasional add-on.

Thirdly, and more fundamentally, the new ECD does not sufficiently address concerns regarding the potential lack of coherence of European actions as they relate to development efforts. The fact that it applies in its entirety to both the EU institutions and EU MS is a step forward which should not be underestimated, and the new ECD repeatedly reaffirms their joint commitment to policy coherence for development (PCD) and policy coherence for sustainable development (PCSD). It also states that the EU and EU MS will ‘integrate the respect of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and gender equality into their political dialogue’ with third countries and implement ‘a rights-based approach to development cooperation’. However, as various observers have pointed out, the focus on migration which can be found in the new ECD is problematic. One obvious risk is that partnerships on migration control with repressive governments can reinforce such regimes internally and externally, and have terrible human costs. Morover, development co-operation and development resources should not be used to serve EU MS’ interests on migration control. References to ‘irregular migration’ do not belong in EU development vocabulary as the (contested) characterisation is irrelevant to development policy, and the emphasis should be on magnifying the positive contributions of migration to development and on reducing its potential negative side-effects. In addition, migration and forced displacement are separate issues, and while the document repeats several times that the EU and EU MS consider it essential to address the root causes of forced displacement, in practice this should be done as part of comprehensive efforts to tackle these situations of fragility on their own terms rather than as part of a narrow effort to avoid the movement of groups of people.

There are other threats to the coherence and effectiveness of development actions. One is the prioritisation of a short-term security agenda (notably on migration and terrorism/violent extremism) over long-term development and peacebuilding strategies. While the new ECD notes that any help provided to security sector actors in partner countries will aim to accomplish ‘sustainable development objectives, in particular the achievement of peaceful and inclusive societies’, the increasing use of development funds for “hard” security- and even military-focused co-operation risks seriously undermining development efforts (notably by blurring the line between the two and through the aforementioned shift in priorities and resources). Another threat pertains to the drive to associate the private sector more closely with development actions. Partnerships with the private sector can indeed have substantive positive effects, especially at the local level, if they lead to conflict-sensitive investments which spur inclusive economic growth and the development of a people- and environment-friendly local private sector. However, investments and business practices which are not conflict-sensitive can create and exacerbate tensions. This means that robust frameworks regulating any such partnerships with the private sector, in particular with EU companies, are required. In this regard, regulatory frameworks which ensure that the relevant actors engage in conflict-sensitive analysis and ‘do no harm’ assessments, and which establish transparency obligations as well as the legal accountability of EU firms for the actions of their sub-contractors throughout the production and distribution chains, are only a first step. More broadly, an in-depth analysis of the development benefits of any partnership with actors from the private sector should be conducted on a case-by-case basis, and development co-operation should not be instrumentalised to serve the commercial interests of EU MS or of other actors.

Concluding remarks

Overall, the new ECD includes encouraging commitments and language on several issues linked to peacebuilding and conflict sensitivity in development actions. At the same time, various shortfalls remain, and current trends relating to migration, security-focused actions and private sector involvement in development pose risks to development and peacebuilding efforts which need to be taken seriously and addressed. The new ECD is longer and more encompassing than its 2005 predecessor, but it does not go as far as offering concrete guidelines on how to operationalise the general principles and declarations of intent which it contains. As always, its implementation and translation into existing/new practices and policies will therefore merit further and continued analysis.

Lorenzo Angelini is the Policy Officer responsible for EPLO’s work in pursuit of its Policy Objective 3 (To integrate peacebuilding into EU development policy, programmes and approaches).


[1] Council of the EU, The new European Consensus on Development – EU and Member States sign joint strategy to eradicate poverty, Press release; 340/17, 7 June 2017,

[2] The New European Consensus on Development – ‘Our world, Our dignity, Our future’, June 2017, p. 5.

The EU and conflict prevention in Jordan


This Civil Society Dialogue Network discussion paper by Laura Davis and Fatima Ayub is intended to stimulate discussion and reflection on what lessons for EU contributions to conflict prevention can be drawn from the case of Jordan.

Jordan is a good example of an important but not urgent situation where incremental efforts to prevent conflict may well yield greater returns over time than responding to crises when they become visible. But as these problems are not urgent, they require considerable political leadership and capital because success is less evident.

Jordan is seen by its partners, with the support of the Jordanian government, as the stable partner in a volatile region. Whether as part of the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), as a partner against Da’esh and in counter-terrorism, as a haven for refugees, Jordan’s role as a “Western ally” overshadows Jordan-as-Jordan. This paper argues that Jordan’s internal situation should be taken into consideration more effectively. It discusses four key drivers of conflict in Jordan, and the EU’s responses to them:

  • Rapidly changing demography, particularly owing to the resettlement of refugees;
  • Diplomatic relations and the geopolitics of the region;
  • Domestic political freedoms; and
  • Domestic fiscal management and economic policy.

The paper shows that EU programming documents repeatedly identify and address these key drivers of conflict. Yet by the EU’s own evaluation, Jordan is not working to mitigate the challenges related to inclusive and responsive governance and economic growth. Despite its extensive aid packages and trade arrangements, the EU has not been able to negotiate improvement on Jordan’s domestic conflict drivers.

A key obstacle is Jordan’s status as a lynchpin in regional stability and security, and here Jordan’s security and the security of the regime are seen as synonymous. Within this context, reforms that could lead to political instability may seem high-risk. On the other hand, doing nothing allows the problem to fester and also carries risk. Since the ‘Arab Spring’ Jordanians are more aware of the possibilities of challenging the existing order and the possibility that this discontent will manifest violently cannot be dismissed.

The EU could contribute to preventing conflict in Jordan if the EEAS facilitates, quietly, a better strategy for the country, supported by a good implementation plan led and owned by key Jordanian reformers and institutions for building a better, more inclusive society.

The EEAS could also muster political support from the relevant parts of the EU machinery and Member States to invest resources in supporting the reforms necessary to reduce the risk of violent endogenous conflict in Jordan. To build resilience, the EU – through the EEAS and/or well-positioned MS – needs to find a way to work with the Jordanian government, particularly the Royal Court and the security services, to build on the limited political and economic reforms it has achieved to date and extend them in the future. It should also find a way to support bridges between reformers and civil society to help develop a national dialogue for inclusive reform.

This would not necessarily require a change in EU policy or instruments, but the assumption of a quiet leadership role, using the tools at its disposal – such as political dialogue – more effectively.

The EC should use its funds more effectively before they shrink. The solution to Jordan’s serious and deepening fiscal crisis is significant political reform, rather than continuing to provide budgetary support or trying to build the private sector. The EU is presumably expecting to write off the loans it has made as the cost of keeping Syrian migrants out of Europe. This will not alleviate the problems: Jordan will share borders with highly unstable neighbours in Syria and Iraq for some time, but eventually international attention and funding will presumably turn towards reconstruction in these countries as Jordan’s regional role (and donor support) diminishes. There will likely be less funding available for Jordan in the future, but this may also provide the opportunity for the EC, EEAS and concerned EU MS to plan for new scenarios.

The EEAS and the EU Delegation to Jordan should also monitor closely the outcomes of their current governance and reform programming and align future funding to reflect progress made, as it is already supposed to do. The EU should not just seek to strengthen its partnership solely in the security arena, but should also stay attuned to meaningful if small measures that the government initiates (such as the recent proposals from a royal committee for justice sector reforms is a good example) and direct their political and financial support to encourage those reforms.

In this way, the EU could demonstrate leadership in preventing violent conflict, with results in Jordan and beyond.

This post gives the views of the author and does not represent the position of EPLO as a whole.

Click here to download the Civil Society Dialogue Network Discussion
Paper No. 11: The EU and conflict prevention in Jordan.