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The Church and Peace network is warning against extending a financial and political instrument at the disposal of the European Union (EU) that could strengthen the military capacity of non-EU countries, a move the network sees as a major shift.

“The EU Commission must not be allowed to go ahead with its proposal to extend the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) to include the aim of strengthening the military capacity of third countries”, says the administrative committee of the Church and Peace network.

Church and Peace issued a statement on 12 October from its office in Schoeffengrund, Germany describing the EU proposal as inappropriate for combatting insecurity and handling migration issues.

“Given the huge number of tasks in the field of civilian peace building, the EU Commission’s proposal for military capacity building to be funded in future from the very limited budget for civilian measures, which took a lot of political work to establish, is unacceptable,” the network said.

Antje Heider-Rottwilm, Church and Peace chair, noted that funding in question — or 100 million euro the EU Commission wants to spend over the next four years — will probably be taken out of the Instrument for Development Cooperation (DCI).

Church and Peace warns: “This proposal is formulated in such broad and general terms that it is unsuitable for combatting instability, conflict and other causes of flight and migration.

“On the contrary, it has the potential to strengthen rogue regimes and their armies and militias. In addition to this, the extension of the IcSP is a back door to the creation of an EU defence budget.”

The network cited the commission saying it will exclude ammunition and weapons but said services are defined so broadly that the EU would become an exporter of military goods and services.

“This policy is very much in line with initiatives for upgrading armed forces which some European governments have been promoting for several years,” said the Church and Peace network.

“We are horrified to see that this approach is now part of the EU’s Global Strategy…presented by Federica Mogherini, EU high representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, end of June 2016.”

“We issue a strong warning against such a fundamental paradigm shift,” added the network.


The Church and Peace network

Statement from the Conference of European Churches Thematic Reference Group on Peacebuilding and Reconciliation 13 October, 2016