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The EU peace project is under threat

Brussels, 2 September 2019

Dear Madam, dear Sir,

Member of the European Parliament,

As a coalition of 61 organisations we are writing to express our deep concern about a number of policy proposals which, taken together, call into question the EU’s founding values of human rights, peace and disarmament.

As a newly-elected MEP, you will have to give your opinion on EU external action priorities and make final decisions on a number of key files, in particular the next EU budgetary cycle for 2021-2027.

Looking at the current proposals and the global context in which they occur paints a worrying picture of the EU’s future path, which increasingly tends towards a controversial military approach to global issues.

Since 2017, EU funds have been diverted for military-related spending, with a €590 million envelope to fund military-industrial Research and Development1 and another €100 million to enable the EU to provide support for ‘Capacity Building of military actors in support of Security for Development’ (CBSD)2.

The proposal for the next Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF 2021-2027) takes a further step down that road by giving priority to the security and military interests of the EU, while neglecting its traditional strengths like conflict resolution, diplomacy, mediation, institution-building and economic incentives to promote peace. Before the EU elections, dozens of civil society organisations urged candidates to ‘save the European peace project’ and ‘work towards a peaceful Europe’.

Today we urge you as elected MEP to go beyond the general motto “a Europe that protects”, and start analysing whether the proposed priorities and funding are truly the most efficient ways of making Europe and the world a safer place to live in.

  • The proposed 2021-2027 MFF diverts financial and human resources to military and security “solutions”

In the initial proposal3, allocations related to security, border management and defence would rise at an unprecedented rate, respectively multiplied by 1.8, 2.6 and 22. The overall EU budget, however, would hardly increase (+ 1.5% in current prices 2018).

For example, two thirds of the Migration and Border management heading would go to border management (€21.3 billion); and the new European Defence Fund would dedicate €13 billion to the industrial Research and Development (R&D) of new or enhanced weaponry. This is more than the Humanitarian Aid budget (€11bn).

In contrast, thematic programmes under the new external financing instrument – the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) – would only benefit from a very moderate increase, reaching only €7 billion in total: €3 billion for Global challenges, €1.5 billion for Human rights and democracy, €1.5 billion for Civil society actors and €1 billion for ‘Peace and stability’. On the contrary, capacity building of military actors (CBSD, including the provision of non-lethal equipment) would be very prominent in the NDICI, with no ceiling as regards the amounts dedicated to it. Yet it is the aforementioned thematic civilian work which allows the EU to make a significant difference, particularly in fragile states or authoritarian regimes.

  • This re-allocation of funds is a consequence of a more fundamental paradigm shift

Creating a fully-fledged European Defence Fund (EDF) or a so-called ‘European Peace Facility’ (EPF) goes beyond providing additional funds to European initiatives: it opens new areas of cooperation whose legitimacy and contribution to the EU Treaty objectives (‘to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples’) are highly questionable.

The €10.5 billion off-budget EPF will train and equip the security and military apparatus of partner countries, potentially including with lethal weaponry. Peace organisations are quite critical of this proposal as its intended contribution to peace is far from guaranteed.

The new external financing instrument, the NDICI, is also illustrative of this shift: it would merge and replace well-established stand-alone funding mechanisms4 and put a stronger emphasis on migration and security. Migration is defined as one of the mainstreamed NDICI objectives, on an equal footing with peace, poverty eradication or democracy and the rule of law, among others. This is a very strong concern for civil society, as the risk is high that this Instrument will serve to advance the migration and security interests of the EU rather than the actual needs of local populations.

  •  Such path would work against peace and disarmament, risk feeding conflicts and neglect the peaceful resolution of conflicts as well as the fight against their root causes, exacerbated by climate change

The European Defence Fund will contribute to the development of controversial weapons like unmanned and autonomous systems5 as well as military applications of artificial intelligence, and will also exacerbate the global arms race by boosting the arms industry’s global competitiveness. In turn, weapons proliferation encourages the use of force rather than peaceful solutions.

As for the “security for development” arguments used to justify the CBSD programme and the Peace Facility, there is little evidence that military-focused ‘train and equip’ efforts can lead to improved peace, justice, and development outcomes – quite the contrary. Even with mitigation measures in place, there is a high risk that EU- funded weapons and support would be used in fragile countries to commit atrocities and fuel violent conflicts.

Research shows that over the past 35 years, 77% of violent conflicts ended through a peace agreement while only 16.4% ended through a military victory. EU funding and attention should therefore focus on creating the conditions for the peaceful resolution of conflicts, including identifying and addressing its root causes.

Climate change, for example, is today widely recognized as a major and sustained risk to global security, contributing to increased natural disasters, conflicts over basic resources, migration and forced displacements, as well as exacerbating other drivers such as poverty, economic shocks and weak institutions.

Yet, the peaceful resolution of conflicts and the fight against their root causes are not sufficiently prioritised. This was recently illustrated in the EU strategic agenda for 2019-2024, which defined migration and the protection of borders as the first priority, with the climate crisis clearly playing second fiddle to an overblown defence agenda.

  • The next MFF should focus on peace-building and on the major factors of conflicts and forced migration, such as poverty, human rights violations or climate change. For this to happen we urge you to:
  • Stop the Defence Fund by rejecting the provisional agreement6in the second reading phase and the €13-billion envelope in the next
  • Stop the militarisation of EU borders and ensure that EU funding will prioritise safe, humane and dignified pathways to and hosting conditions in Europe, in line with international law and the right to
  • Accelerate the pace and scale of action to significantly decrease EU greenhouse gas emissions, in order to reduce them by 65% by 2030 in line with the IPCC special report, and to zero by
  • Maintain separate external financing instruments for development aid, human rights & democracy, humanitarian assistance and peace-building in the next MFF with significantly increased budgets; introduce a cap for CBSD activities in the
  • Call on the EU Council to take a step back as regards the so-called Peace Facility, particularly its ‘train and equip’ component, and to engage with civil society to discuss in depth its political parameters and added-value.
  • Call for EU external policies to prioritise the peaceful resolution and prevention of conflicts and the fighting of their root causes, including by driving a 100% renewable, climate resilient, zero carbon economy at the global level, and by helping poor countries to become energy independent and adapt to climate

You will find in the annex more background information as well as links to more detailed documents produced by civil society actors on the concerns raised in this letter.

We hope you will find them instructive and we remain at your disposal should you have questions.

Yours sincerely,

List of signatures

Agir Pour la Paix (BE)

Aktion Aufschrei: Stoppt den Waffenhandel (DE) ASER – Action Sécurité Ethique Républicaines (FR) ATTAC Austria (AT)

BACBI – Belgian Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (BE)

BRICUP – British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (UK)

CAAT – Campaign Against Arms Trade (UK)

Centre Delàs – Centre d’Estudis per la Pau J.M. Delàs (ES) Centre for Peace Studies (HR)

Christian Aid Ireland (IE) Church and Peace

CNAPD -Coordination Nationale d’Action pour la Paix et la Démocratie (BE)

CND – Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK) Comhlámh – Action for Global Justice (IE) Committee of 100 in Finland (FI)


Corruption Watch (UK)

CROSOL – Croatian Platform for International Citizen Solidarity (HR)

Ekumenická akademie (Ecumenical Academy, CZ) Finnish-Arab Friendship Society (FI)

Friends of the Earth Finland (FI) GHA – Global Health Advocates

Gibanje za pravice Palestincev (Palestinian Rights Movement, SI)


GSoA – Gruppe für eine Schweiz ohne Armee (CH) Human Rights Institute (SK)

ICAHD Finland, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (FI)

IFOR Austria – International Fellowship of Reconciliation (AT)

Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IE) International Peace Bureau

Kerk en Vrede (NL)

MIR – Movimento Internazionale della Riconciliazione (IT) Nesehnuti (CZ)

Norwegian Peace Association (NO) Observatoire des armements (FR)

ODG – Observatori del Deute en la Globalització (ES) PANA – Peace & Neutrality Alliance (IE)

PATRIR -Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania (RO)


Pax Christi International Pax Christi Flanders (BE)

Peace Brigades International Peace Union (FI)

Privacy International

QCEA – Quaker Council for European Affairs Rete Italiana per il Disarmo (IT)

SGR – Scientists for Global Responsibility (UK) SPAS – Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SE)

Statewatch – Monitoring the s tate and civil liberties in Europe

Stop Fuelling War – Cessez d’alimenter la guerre (FR) Stop Wapenhandel (NL)

Technology for Life (FI)

TNI – Transnational Institute transform!at (AT)

Un ponte per (IT) Urgewald (DE) Vrede vzw (BE) Vredesactie (BE)

War Resisters’ International Women for Peace in Finland (FI) Women in Black Austria (AT)


1   €90 million for the Preparatory action for defence research (PADR 2017-2019), €500 million for the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP 2019-2020)

2    This implies “train and equip” activities to military forces in partner countries

3    EC proposal COM(2018)321 of 2 May 2018; all figures are expressed in current prices

4    In particular t he European Development Fund (EDF), the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), the Instrument contributing to Peace and Stability (IcSP) and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)

5    To the exception of lethal fully autonomous weapons, e.g. killer-robots, which will not be eligible to the Fund from 2021; however they are in the pilot programmes for 2017-2020 (PADR & EDIDP)

6   After a 2-months Trilogue, a provisional political agreement was reached on 27 February 2019 and voted by the EP on 18 April 201

Alix André

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