The European way

Published February 6, 2018
The writer is ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan.
The writer is ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan.

OVER the last decades Pakistan and the European Union have developed and deepened the spectrum of their bilateral relations. This partnership encompasses those areas on which we have built our collaboration. Trade, of course, with our ambitious expectations that Pakistan makes the full use of our GSP Plus preferential agreement for the benefit of all Pakistani citizens. Development cooperation certainly as we are implementing in education, rural development and governance the €653 million (Rs90 billion) allocated to Pakistan for the period 2014-2020.

It is indeed through those pillars, trade and development cooperation, that Pakistan and the EU have learned about each other and developed their partnership.

Yet, thinking that the mandate of the EU exclusively revolves around those two areas would be misleading. The EU is not a trade organisation, nor is it a large development agency. The EU has the chance to benefit and the ability to use a wide and unique set of instruments to conduct its own foreign policy, which scope and orientations are defined by all EU member states together. Next to its trade policy, development cooperation or humanitarian aid, the EU is also significantly engaged in the area of security and defence. Since 2003, the Common Security and Defence Policy enables the EU to take a leading role in peace-keeping operations, conflict prevention and in the strengthening of international security.

The EU’s model of economic integration is also a unique opportunity to support this operational engagement. The member states can research together the technologies of tomorrow in the field of defence and develop together their defence capabilities.

Shared experience can promote peace.

The EU benefits from its own crisis management structures including the EU Military Staff, planning and conducting its military operations, and the EU Military Committee, decision-making authority gathering all member states’ chiefs of defence.

All these structures are under the political control of European civilian authorities. We need to provide Pakistan, its government and citizens, with better knowledge of this particular dimension of the EU engagement for peace and stability as we believe it is through dialogue and shared experience that we can best promote peace and stability.

Currently, 2,600 civilian and 4,000 military staff from all 28 EU member states are deployed around the world in six military operations and 11 civilian missions. The mandate of such operational deployments is wide: humanitarian and rescue tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping, combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking, disarmament operations, military advice and assistance and post-conflict stabilisation tasks.

The scope of the EU’s engagement corresponds to its level of ambition to endorse a role of global security provider allowing for direct and rapid action and in less permissive environments if need be, to manage and help resolve a conflict or a crisis. This is done at the request of the country to which assistance is being provided on the legal basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The land and maritime deployments of our military and civilian assets occur in countries of our direct vicinity such as Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia and in the Mediterranean Sea or further away in the Palestinian Territories, Mali, Niger, Libya, Central African Republic, Iraq as well as in and off the coast of Somalia.

Previous engagements have amongst other matters helped in streng­thening the capacities of the Afghan National Police, supported Indonesia to monitor the peace process in Aceh, assisted Chad to protect its civilians and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, contributed to strengthening the sec­u­rity-sector reform of Guinea-Bissau or helped in securing UN operations in Congo and Sudan.

Under the EU flag, our military forces support countries that are recovering from conflicts, enhance their capacity to generate long-term stability and recover prosperity. They also address the root causes of threats that could have consequences on the security of the EU and its citizens. The ability of the EU to use different external policy instruments ranging from humanitarian aid, to crisis management, development cooperation and trade is a chance from which no other international organisation can benefit.

Our operational engagement in countering piracy is a relevant illustration of this strategy as, next to a naval operation mandated to deter and disrupt piracy and armed robbery off the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean, the EU has deployed two other operations to train the military forces and support the capacities of the Somali government to tackle alone and address the root causes of piracy.

It is this careful mix between military and civilian actions, short-term and long-term actions that makes the European way unique and indispensable in tackling security crises around the world.

The writer is ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2018

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