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Better Crisis and Conflict Management for the EU

A successful transformation, like the one the EU is trying to achieve for peaceful development in its neighbourhood, must usher in a new approach to foreign and security policy that combines the instruments of diplomacy, development and security, which have so far been used in isolation.


The call for more policy coherence

The many crises and conflicts that have not allowed Africa, the post-Soviet sphere or the Balkans to settle down since the 1990s show that economic development requires a stable and secure environment. Conversely, opening up economic prospects for the future facilitates processes of reconciliation and has a lasting peace-promoting effect. It has likewise become clear that genuine stability is not possible without democracy.

One of the first to point out this correlation between development, security and good governance as well as to urge the introduction of a new approach to crisis and conflict management was then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. His statement from 2015 remains memorable to this day: “We will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development, and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights.”

This prompted discussions – not only at the United Nations, but also within the EU – about how to overcome the fragmentation of responsibilities (e.g., between the foreign, development and defense ministries), the duplication of structures, and the incoherence of strategies and decision-making processes. Doing so would aim to achieve synergies and to result in more policy coherence, which in turn could help prevent crises and resolve conflicts.

Such horizontally integrating approaches can now be found in many strategies for foreign and security policy. Under the Tony Blair government, the United Kingdom led the way on this for a long time by initiating a reform of its entire public sector – with the key theme of “Joined-Up Government” –in response to an increasingly complex and uncertain world. Today, the EU is integrating this concept into its new EU Global Strategy under the title “Integrated Approach to Conflicts and Crises.” In Germany, the approach is referred to as “networked security” and constitutes a fixed point in the “Federal Government’s Guidelines on Preventing Crises, Resolving Conflicts, Building Peace.”

Have theories panned out in practice?

Still, how much progress has been made in terms of implementing this approach in practice? Has the close cooperation called for in the strategies, either between EU institutions or ministries in the Member States, led to new organizational structures? Are there new decision-making structures spanning multiple ministries or institutions? Are goals and tasks being jointly formulated? Is there joint resource allocation?

We intend to investigate these issues for the EU and the Member States, particularly with regard to developments in the EU’s neighbourhood. We will map out in detail where we stand today with the “Integrated Approach to Conflicts and Crises.” This survey will be compared with findings from organizational theory or related theories from the field of public management. By comparing theory and practice, we will derive policy recommendations on how to strengthen the approach on the levels of both the EU and the Member States, and thereby contribute to improving EU policy in the neighbourhood.