On 27 November 2018, the Brussels International Center held an expert round-table on the Africa-Europe security partnership at the European Parliament. Hosted by Ms. Ana Gomes – MEP, the event brought together 40 experts from organizations including the European Commission, EEAS, Transparency International Defense and Security, the Egmont Institute, the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office, and NATO to discuss strategies to leverage both the MFF and post-Cotonou processes for a reformed approach to African security.
The event opened with a presentation from Transparency International Defense and Security, which highlighted the wider security impact of corruption in defense institutions, particularly in the Sahel and West Africa, such as increased engagement in organized crime, poor procurement, and ghost soldiers. Experts concluded that progress requires policy, institutional and behavioral changes, including oversight and audit mechanisms to improve battle effectiveness, increase defense integrity, and regain public legitimacy.
Experts then discussed the importance of a holistic approach to strengthening African capacity building and competences, especially through the African Union (AU), and considered sustainable mechanisms that would both mobilize political will and ownership over resources. Participants noted the recent Court of Auditors’ report on the African Peace and Security Architecture, and emphasized the need to build on the recent successes, such as the improved expertise of the AU and the creation of the AU Peace Fund.
This transitioned into a debate over the proposed European Peace Facility (EPF), the proposed 10.5bn global fund slated to replace the African Peace Facility. Participants voiced concerns over the draft regulation’s lack of accountability and oversight, and questioned the wisdom of an off-budget military fund that is unlikely to be scrutinized by the parliaments of Member States. Experts argued against EU funded lethal assistance, and concluded that a conflict sensitive approach to improving human security. It was noted that a compliance mechanism within the EPF would be a valuable addition.
Representatives and participants closed the discussion by examining the evolving drivers of conflict and violence in Africa, such as climate change, horizontal inequalities, and economic fragility, and considered the role of security sector impunity as a driver of violent extremism. It was concluded that the EPF requires significant reforms to adequately address these challenges.