The European Union is much more active around the globe than many citizens realise. It has used its soft power to promote its values in the world, advancing human rights for people in so many places.
The proposed EU budget framework, or Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF), allocates unprecedented levels of funding for border management and military projects over the next seven years. This includes €21bn for external border control, and another €21bn for arms research, development and procurement. In both cases this is many times what has been spent in the last seven years.
The impetus for this spending comes from perceptions about public attitudes to immigration, fears about Russia and efforts to increase economic growth – including the arms industry.
Leading peacebuilding, human rights, development and humanitarian organisations are keen to share their expertise so that Europe does not repeat the mistakes which the international community has made countless times in the past.
In particular, proposals to spend billions of euros on private sector arms trade research, military capacity-building and border control - both at home and abroad - do not address the root causes of violent conflict, environmental degradation, poor governance and other drivers of migration. Simplistic responses to complex challenges risks further entrenching cycles of violence, fragility and the displacement of people.
The EU is proud of the global contribution it has made over the last seven years. Reviews into funds such as the Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace and the Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights have demonstrated the impact the EU can make when it spends it budget well.
Investment in peacebuilding and human-centred migration policies has been proven to work. Evidence demonstrates the impact of an integrated approach to peacebuilding, sustainable development and human rights. Such an approach must be ring-fenced within the seven-year budget framework or the current political climate will be "locked in" for years to come.
Europe doesn’t need an EU budget that normalises the crisis mode of recent years. Instead, Europe should be at the forefront of addressing the drivers of conflict and insecurity.
Many have said it before us, including the former UN Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson: “There is no peace without development, and there is no development without peace, and none of the above without respect for human rights.”
The EU's next budget is an opportunity for the EU to stand up for its original values of peace and respect for human rights by securing funding for civilian peacebuilding, and not risk undermining its reputation for human rights and the rule of law.
- Peacebuilding works.
- Refugees are people.
- Let's invest in them.