Can the EU rebuild failing states? A review of Europe’s civilian capacities.

Senior Policy Fellow
ECFR Alumni · Former Senior Policy Fellow


Broken promises from EU members on crisis missions risk more fragile states collapsing into failed states, argue ECFR's security experts Daniel Korski and Richard Gowan

Broken promises and treating Afghanistan, DR Congo and Iraq like Bosnia has left the EU without the capacity to prevent fragile states from becoming failing states. This is the main finding of the latest report from the European Council on Foreign Relations, by ECFR's security experts Daniel Korski and Richard Gowan, published today.

According to the report, Can the EU rebuild failing states? A review of Europe's civilian capacities:

EU member states break promises and significantly under-staff key international missions.
No member state has deployed even half of what they promised in the 2004 Civilian Headline Goal process, and the EU has a shortage of 1,500 personnel across its 12 ongoing EU state building missions. All eyes are on Afghanistan: but the EU's police mission there is at half its authorised strength. Crisis missions still rely on the ‘Bosnia-template', ignoring reality on the ground.
The 2005-2006 mission to DR Congo, for instance, was rendered largely irrelevant because EU planning failed to take into account corruption and the country's size compared to Bosnia. Turf wars between the European Commission and the European Council weaken missions.
In practice, spheres of influence overlap, leading to squabbles over who is responsible for what. In 2004 this led to a case at the European Court of Justice over who should get involved in a project tackling weapons trafficking in West Africa

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of its individual authors.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

We will never send you any content that is not ECFR related. We will store your e-mail address and your personal data in accordance with our privacy policy.