European Peace Facility

European Peace Facility

BREAKING: EU leaders adopt 5 billion Euro fund to train and equip security forces and militaries worldwide that risk fuelling armed conflict

22 March 2021

Today, EU leaders adopted the European Peace Facility (EPF), a new fund that will allow the EU to train militaries around the world and equip them with lethal weapons. This is despite experts - including civil society - raising their concerns that the fund could worsen conflicts and contribute to human rights abuses in unstable regions.

This fund will replace several European foreign and defence policy funds such as the African Peace Facility which finances security assistance and other military operations in African countries including Somalia and the Sahel region. However, the EPF differs from its predecessors. Firstly, it is global in its mandate. Secondly – and crucially – it opens the door for the EU to fund ‘lethal equipment’ such as machine guns, pistols and ammunition. The EU is not allowed to spend its budget on weapons, so EU member states have circumvented the EU treaties prohibiting this by creating an off-budget fund. This marks a troubling change in EU foreign policy. 

The EPF will come into force in July of this year.

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “This fund allows European countries to sell weapons to conflict-torn countries without robust controls. This flies in the face of the EU’s aim to preserve peace. In many of these countries, the black market for weapons is thriving and this move by the EU could make it easier for local militia and armed groups to get their hands on weapons, causing only more instability and suffering. 

"Instead of fuelling conflict, the EU needs to listen to people on the ground. In the Sahel, our local partners demand good governance, policies that work for all communities and a strong civil society.”

Sorley McCaughey, Head of Policy and Advocacy with Chrisitan Aid said: "This agreement is deeply concerning, more likely to worsen situations of conflict than meaningfully contribute to peace. Despite assurances from Government, EU foreign policy continues to shift towards a militarised, security-first approach and away from traditional strengths of diplomacy, conflict prevention and long-term peacebuilding.

"The EPF has been agreed at Brussels level with little or no real Dáil debate or scrutiny on its implications for Ireland. The Government argues it has secured important opt outs, but with very little detail or certainty on how they will work in practice. Ireland's hard won reputation as a neutral, impartial state could easily be jeopardised by the actions of other members of the facility. At the very least, a detailed analysis of how the Facility will contribute to human rights and peace and how Ireland's neutrality will be protected under the EPF should be presented to the Dáil, which must play an active role in monitoring the facility and holding it to account."

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Contact
Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | 087 912 3165


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