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EU-CIVCAP Report Summary

Project ID: 653227
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.7.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EU-CIVCAP (Preventing and responding to conflict: developing EU CIVilian CAPabilities for a sustainable peace)

Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2016-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The goals of preventing the outbreak of conflict and promoting sustainable peace remain a fundamental challenge to policymakers and analysts alike. Although the number of total armed conflicts has declined in recent years, the consequences of ongoing conflicts remain devastating, as illustrated by the cases of Syria or Ukraine. The impact of conflicts extends from direct civilian casualties, internally displaced persons and human rights violations to regional and international security threats such as humanitarian crises and refugee flows. They also constitute a breeding ground for international organised crime and terrorism. Given the scale and the nature of the consequences of conflicts, the European Union (EU) and its Member States require an adequate set of capabilities if they are to address these challenges in a timely and effective manner. The research project 'EU-CIVCAP: Improving EU capabilities for peacebuilding' provides a comprehensive, comparative and multidisciplinary analysis of EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding in order to enhance the EU's capabilities. More specifically, the objectives of this project are threefold:
1) To assess EU civilian capabilities for external conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
2) To identify and document lessons learned and best practices in EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
3) To enhance future policy practice and research on EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
EU-CIVCAP evaluates the EU’s record in conflict prevention and peacebuilding to date and compares it to that of other international actors such as the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It examines the EU’s engagement in two key regions (the Western Balkans and the Horn of Africa) and identifies the best civilian means to enhance the EU’s capabilities and address existing shortfalls. This will be done through, inter alia, the development of a catalogue of lessons learned and best practices reports, the creation of an expert network, engagement through social media, and the organisation of dissemination events in different formats in this area.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During its first year, EU-CIVCAP has focused on its first objective: ‘to assess EU civilian capabilities for external conflict prevention and peacebuilding’. In line with the EU-CIVCAP conceptual framework, Work packages (WP) 2, 3 and 4 have conducted a capability-based assessment (CBA) by focusing on capabilities available at the Member State level (WP 2); EU capabilities for conflict prevention, early warning and conflict analysis (WP 3); and comparing EU capabilities with those of the UN and the OSCE (WP 4). The discussion below summarises some of the main results achieved so far:
1. Procedures for conflict prevention and mediation
The EU has a wide array of policies, institutions and instruments that enable intervention in conflict prevention. However, the lack of clarity surrounding the use of the term and the fact that conflict prevention is not always prioritised and/or integrated into decision-making at all levels hinders the EU’s effectiveness in this area. Mediation is a key part of conflict prevention and the European External Action Service has its own mediation staff, but questions remain around the EU’s neutrality and its ability to engage in mediation. Other instruments such as the EU Special Representatives (EUSRs) could be used to greater effect.
2. Personnel: training and recruitment
The European Security and Defence College and Europe’s New Training Initiative for Civilian Crisis Management (ENTRi) have improved training for EU’s civilian personnel, primarily in terms of standardisation and providing specific civilian expertise (i.e. rule of law, SSR, DDR). However, there is room for improvement regarding the integration of local ownership in the curricula and improving standardisation and certification processes at the national level. Systems to select and deploy civilian personnel used by the Member States vary widely and many of them present gaps, with consequences for the work of missions.
3. Technologies: better understanding and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Big Data
ICTs and Big Data offer a valuable addition to peacebuilding and conflict prevention activities due to their ability to generate, collect and share conflict-related data that might feed early warning systems. However, those formulating and implementing EU policies do not always take advantage of these technologies. EU Members States are currently deploying their ICTs in the framework of either national or EU actions, but cooperation and coordination among them is limited.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

This project moves beyond the state-of-the-art in several ways. First, the EU-CIVCAP project examines EU civilian capabilities through the entire conflict cycle in order to provide a holistic assessment of exiting capabilities and potential capability shortfalls. This project goes beyond the current focus on the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in the extant literature to include other areas of external action such as preventative diplomacy, development or trade. Second, the project advances innovative ways of studying EU capabilities by using a Capability-Based Assessment (CBA). This framework allows for the identification of existing and required capabilities in order for the EU to achieve its goals in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. This framework moves from previous assessments of capabilities which have focused on short-term requirements to a more strategic and holistic approach to capability development by linking goals to capabilities. Third, the project advances the empirical study of EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding by examining EU capabilities from a comparative perspective (see DL4.1 comparing EU, UN and OSCE capabilities), by examining Member State capabilities available for conflict prevention and peacebuilding (WP 2) and by focusing on two key regions, the Western Balkans and the Horn of Africa (WP 5 and 6).
In line with the expected impacts of this project, during its first year, the empirical research has identified key capability shortfalls in the areas of procedures, personnel, and use of technologies. The empirical findings highlighted key lessons learned and best practice for EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding, which should contribute to 1) the optimisation of existing capabilities, policies and procedures; 2) policy advice on the exploitation of civilian-military synergies; 3) tailor-made support to policy knowledge needs in this area; and 4) the optimisation of public spending.
By developing a catalogue of lessons learned and best practices reports, EU-CIVCAP will have an enduring and sustained policy impact in supporting the Union’s external security policies. As well as this, EU-CIVCAP will also have a societal and academic impact. Through the creation of its Expert Network and the organisation of several events (workshops, Peacebuilding Forum and Research meets Policy seminars), the project seeks to consolidate new linkages between the policy community, academia and stakeholders from the NGO and think-tank world. By gathering novel empirical data about lessons learned and best practices in peacebuilding, the project will also contribute to academic debates about the EU’s role in promoting sustainable peace.

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