EU Conflict Prevention and Crisis Management

Dear friends, The Cold War is over, the Berlin Wall has been torn down, in Europe it is very hard to imagine any major wars in the foreseeable future and there are not any clear enemy images within Europe. On this, there seems to be a wide agreement. There seems to be a need for the European identity to fulfil itself by including in it the (military) security policy aspects as well. But does this need exist by itself in the minds of ordinary Europeans or has the need developed from outside them? For most people, today, security means economic stability and environmental sustainability. People are more afraid of natural catastrophes than they are of wars. Of course, if there is a need for a radical change (for economic reasons e.g. as there is at the moment in Finland) say from a conscript army to a professional army, people tend to hang on to the older patterns. But then they are thinking about the old wars that the European nations have experienced. In the European Union, we are not, however, preparing for a full blown war – for the time being at least we leave this to the Nato – but for something that is called either a ‘conflict’ or a ‘crisis’ that needs to be ‘prevented’ or ‘managed’.

Modern conflicts mostly seem to evolve around grave violations of human rights and one can ask if these can ever be managed by military power. Conflicts often occur where state structures have collapsed and the need for conflict prevention may arise extremely rapidly. These factors must be taken into account in the planning and training of civilian crisis management. In 1992 in Maastricht, the Member States of the European Union decided to include the second pillar into the Union, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). After failures in foreign policy and especially the horrible experiences in the former Yugoslavia, the European Council in Cologne decided to include the so called Petersberg tasks into the Union’s policy. In June 2000, the Feira European Council confirmed priority areas of EU civilian crisis management: 1) policing, strengthening 2)the rule of law and 3)civil administration and civil protection. In May 2000, the Committee on Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management (CIVCOM) had been set up. In the Greens, we have traditionally been in favour of creating non-military and preventive measures for crisis management. For us, the involvement of civilians and non-governmental organisations in these processes is crucial. In this seminar we will no doubt hear many enlightened speeches about the possible role of the civilian society in crisis prevention and management.

Before I give the floor to our many distinguished invited speakers, I would like to take this opportunity to quote a Finnish senior researcher Dr Hanna Ojanen, from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs who spoke last weekend in a much similar seminar in Helsinki. She was not altogether thrilled about the prospects of the future of crises management in the EU and thus she offered a few words of warning. I would like us to keep these warnings in mind as we proceed although I do not want to be too pessimistic. First of all she reminded that the development of the EU crisis management capabilities has been very fast indeed – perhaps because this is the easiest aspect of the CFSP that could be developed; and even easier to develop than the CAP or enlargement, yet deepening the integration. Having ramifications for the armaments industry, military crisis management is naturally more appealing to the EU than civilian crisis management or conflict prevention. Hanna Ojanen: “In comparison, civilian crisis management and conflict prevention do not possess these competitive edges. They can in practice be almost whatever activities – ranging from promoting student exchange to improving living standards or encouraging free media. This is particularly true for conflict prevention where one could argue that the EU already has been engaged in. In this sense, there is not the same sense of novelty as in military crisis management …” Ms Ojanen suggested that the logic of the integration seems to apply in military crisis management: it has started from the easiest things i.e. compiling troops and setting up institutions; although it is not at all clear what kind of crises we are supposed to be preparing for. And she wondered what would happen if a crisis occurred and the system would be needed already in 2003 when it is supposed to be operative but it would not work – the EU is not known of backing up once it has decided to do something, another feature in the integration logic. Ms Ojanen also took up a most important notion: as the crisis management is a tool of the foreign policy there is a pressure to magnify it’s importance by declaring all it’s components secret.

We have tasted this poison in the Solana coup of last summer and in the Council’s decision on security rules from last March. Today, in the European Parliament Committee on Citizens’ Freedom and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs the Green/EFA Group voted against a draft regulation on access to documents of EU institutions. One can say that the European Parliament has fallen victim to Stockholm Syndrome: Instead of defending the interests of the public and parliament, the majority of MEPs today backed the interests of the Council and the Swedish EU Presidency – the “Stockholm syndrome”, an expression psychologists use to describe the phenomenon of hostages identifying themselves with the hostage-takers. Today a chance was missed to reject a demand by the Council to obtain far reaching rights to declare a large number of documents “sensitive documents”. The Parliament’s negotiators ended up defending the Council’s ever widening special security interests; according to the voted text “sensitive documents” could encompass anything from economic policy, international relations and trade to security and defence policy. If this text is approved in the plenary session next week, only a limited number of security checked persons will have access to these documents and also have the right to decide whether reference to these documents is made in a public register. The infamous Solana decision is not dead, it has in a new way been given a new lease of life and threatens to contaminate the new regulation on public access to EU documents. Thus, it seems clear that the Council is not at all interested in involving the civil society in the foreign policy decision making or even in the decision making on the future of the EU’s crisis management. It also seems to have very little interest in involving civilians and NGOs – apart from the police, fire brigades and possibly judicial personnel – in the activities. Just as well the Council seems to lack interest in conflict prevention altogether. Or have we heard something from the CIVCOM since it was set up? We cannot be happy with this.

Non-governmental organisations must be allowed to participate in the planning process now. Unless this is done, the institutional framework will have been built and it’s structure will exclude NGOs. The NGO’s input especially in establishing judicial systems and monitoring of human rights is of vital importance. Finally I would like to remind you of the several resolutions by the European Parliament to establish European Civilian Peace Corps (ECPC) in the EU. The latest resolution was taken in 1999. My Swedish colleague Per Gahrton must be thanked in this connection for his excellent report that led to the resolution. This brings us back to what I said before about the lesser interest in the EU in a holistic, wider interpretation of security. The goals of the European Civilian Peace Corps according to Gahrton: – The ECPC will rely on a holistic approach, including, inter alia, political and economic efforts, and the enhancement of political participation and of the economic context of operations. – Since conflict transformation efforts have to address all levels of protracted conflicts, the tasks of ECPC will be multifunctional. – Concrete examples of ECPC´s peace-building activities are mediation and confidence building among the conflict parties; humanitarian assistance (including food aid, water and sanitation, and health); reintegration (including disarming and demobilisation of former combatants and the support of displaced persons, refugees and other vulnerable groups); rehabilitation and reconstruction; stabilisation of economic structures (including the establishment of economic linkages); monitoring and improving the human rights situation and empowerment for political participation (including election monitoring and assistance); interim administration to facilitate short-term stability; information and the establishment of educational structures and programmes designed to eliminate prejudices and enemy images; and campaigns informing and educating people about the peace-building activities at hand. Nothing of this kind can be imposed directly on the parties, however, through political support from the outside, their cooperation can be facilitated. The Swedish and Belgian presidencies offer us a golden opportunity to enhance and make more concrete the civilian aspect in crisis management. Let us make the most of these.

Green/EFA Conference on EU Conflict Prevention And Crisis Management Brussels 25 April, 2001