ABSTRACT

It has only been a decade since the EU became active as a peacekeeping actor. Yet in this short timeframe it has undergone a significant evolution. The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) originally aimed to provide European states with an organizational vehicle for full spectrum crisis management – or even “the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy”.1 This objective remains part of the official discourse. In practice, however, the CSDP gradually developed into a platform for a limited number of niche tasks in international security. These notably include small-scale civilian and military capacity-building missions. In addition, the European Commission developed a number of financial instruments aimed at enabling offshore security assistance, such as the African Peace Facility and the Instrument for Stability. This European choice for specializing in diplomatic action, conflict mediation and high-end security assistance implies that the brunt of international peacekeeping efforts will continue to lie with the UN and regional arrangements other than the EU. The trend towards an indirect approach in the EU’s role in international peacekeeping has major ramifications for Africa. The EU’s experimental role in African security is not easy to understand. It is characterized by a mixed heritage, blending the practices of former colonial powers with those of neutral states. It also relies upon an uneasy but pragmatic division of labour between the European institutions and the member states. This chapter seeks to take stock of the EU’s track record as a peacekeeper in Africa, to describe the broad trend from direct to indirect engagement, and to assess the different explanations that can be put forward in interpreting this trend. The overall conclusion that can be drawn is that the EU will continue to be engaged in African security based on a strategy of “affordable influence”. While political and financial constraints increasingly push the EU to play only an enabling role in African peacekeeping, the EU is trying to maintain its political leverage. Such a posture is intended to shape the broad dynamics in the African strategic environment rather than delivering specific political outcomes.