In March 2021, the Council of the European Union (EU) agreed upon a call to determine the ‘European Peace Facility’ (EPF), together with a controversial provision permitting the European Union to arm non-EU actors via its so-called ‘train-and-equip’ part. That is the primary time that the EU will be capable of instantly provide navy coalitions and nationwide armies with arms, which was unimaginable underneath the authorized restrictions that ruled its predecessors. The €5bn fund combines spending for navy operations – previously financed via the Athena mechanism – and the previous ‘African Peace Facility’, a growth instrument for supporting safety in Africa. Whereas the EPF is world in its ambition, its major focus is anticipated to be on the African continent.

Peace organizations in Europe have raised the alarm about these developments, particularly because the EPF permits for the availability of small arms, which ‘frequently [cause] the most harm and [are] most at risk of misuse and diversion in fragile contexts’. In a joint assertion revealed in November 2020, 40 civil society organizations warned that the EPF not solely fails to deal with the foundation causes of battle, but in addition dangers exacerbating them. As well as, arms management consultants have pointed to the lengthy life-span of small arms, notably inside areas that the EPF will likely be specializing in, such because the Horn of Africa, which ‘are [already] awash with weapons that have accumulated over decades of war’. Nonetheless, the EU has maintained that safety and stability in these areas can solely be supplied with (extra) weapons. As EU Excessive Consultant for Overseas Affairs and Safety Coverage and Vice-President of the Fee (HRVP) Josep Borrell said in relation to the EPF: ‘We’d like weapons, we want arms, we want navy capacities and that’s what we’re going to assist present to our African buddies’.

Elsewhere, we’ve got argued that the case of the EPF ought to be understood towards the background of a wider ambition on the a part of the European Fee and European Exterior Motion Service, shared by a number of member states, to show the EU right into a extra militarised, muscular, and masculine safety actor. Maybe most vital on this respect is the institution of the European Defence Fund (EDF), which supplies nearly €8bn from the EU’s frequent price range for defence-related analysis and growth between 2021–27, with the devoted purpose of supporting the European defence trade. Constructing on insights from feminist safety research, our earlier work has proven how these developments inside EU safety and defence are a part of – and additional contribute to – a normalisation of militarism and the militarised masculinities related to it (Hoijtink & Muehlenhoff, 2020). Specifically, each the EDF and the EPF draw on, and additional justify, concepts of ‘protector’ and ‘fight’ masculinity inside EU safety discourse and observe, which relate to the concept individuals in danger and Europe’s pursuits at residence and overseas can solely be protected and defended via ‘sturdy’ safety establishments and ‘actual’ drive.

Within the case of the EPF, there’s additionally a unique set of masculinities at play, which closely depend on concepts of rationality and a risk-based strategy to battle, battle and arms transfers. A key side of the EPF is its Built-in Methodological Framework (IMF), which units out a threat evaluation process that’s to be adopted within the case of EU help measures, together with the availability of deadly armaments. On a questions and solutions’ (Q&A) webpage devoted to the framework, the IMF is described as ‘a strong course of with pointers and factors to be examined, on a case-by-case foundation, and in a sound and proportionate method in line with the specifics of every help measures’. Whereas displayed in these obscure and technocratic/rationalist phrases, the IMF really constitutes a extremely political observe: it assesses which classes of actor(s), underneath which circumstances, might be trusted with the navy gear delivered by the EU on the idea of standards, comparable to compliance with export management standards, respect of worldwide legislation and bodily safety and stockpile administration.

From different literature (e.g. Stachowitsch & Sachseder, 2019), we all know that such practices of threat evaluation depend on and reconstitute racialized and gendered classes of threat, vulnerability and care. However, within the case of the EPF, in addition they rationalize the EU’s weapons supply to 3rd actors and divert extra political questions. Certainly, the IMF and the EPF extra broadly are based mostly on the predetermined assumption that armaments provision by European states is already professional and to not be questioned. As Anna Stavrianakis (2016, 847) additionally argues, ‘the incorporation of threat into arms commerce regulation is [hence] higher understood when it comes to the upkeep of the legitimacy of battle within the West’. Danger evaluation frameworks such because the IMF merely regulate the arms commerce of others, whereas legitimising arms exports from the World North to the World South and reaffirming their consideration of people rights and Worldwide Humanitarian Regulation (IHL).

You will need to notice that the EPF is financed by member states’ contributions outdoors the EU’s frequent price range. Which means the accountability for the EPF is within the fingers of the Council whereas the European Parliament solely has an advisory place and no parliamentary management, which is why the Council tries to reassure critics that the supply of weapons will happen in accordance with ‘worldwide requirements’. In essence, the IMF underlines that the EU will comply with worldwide legislation and the Arms Commerce Treaty (ATT), which has beforehand been topic to the criticism that it merely legitimises the arms commerce and maintains racialised world hierarchies, as described within the above. On the identical time, the provisions inside the EPF are even weaker than these of the ATT. Though the Council Decision on the EPF emphasizes that it’s going to adjust to the Frequent Place 2008/944/CFSP on frequent guidelines governing controls of EU member states’ exports of navy know-how and gear, the EU Frequent Place replace in 2019 didn’t amend the Place’s language to carry it in step with the ATT, which requires State Events to chorus from exporting any navy gear if there’s the danger that it’s getting used ‘to commit or facilitate severe acts of gender-based violence or severe acts of violence towards girls and youngsters’ (ATT, Artwork. 7.4.).

Thus far, actual particulars concerning the IMF and the way it will likely be operationalised are missing, however the case of the Sahel provides us some clues about how and the place the EPF will likely be used and what’s at stake. The latest EU’s Integrated Strategy in the Sahel mentions the EPF as an instrument that may be mobilized to  ‘help navy or defence capability-building actions, together with in assist of the mandates of CSDP missions, to assist the G5 Sahel Joint Pressure and state establishments’, even when these state establishments are recognized for committing human rights violations as the identical EU doc recognises. Whereas the EU’s Built-in Technique within the Sahel means that the EU’s involvement serves a complete record of targets, together with the safety of susceptible populations and the strengthening of human rights and gender equality, the EU’s major exercise right here takes the type of two civilian (EUCAP Sahel Niger and EUCAP Sahel Mali) and one navy mission (EUTM Mali), that are aimed toward strengthening the capabilities of defence and safety forces, quickly additionally via the provision of deadly weapons. This manner, the EU merely pursues ‘conventional’ safety targets with a give attention to stopping migration to Europe and countering terrorism, whereas additional contributing to the insecurities of ladies and marginalized individuals.

The EPF doesn’t have any sturdy safeguards to stop such attainable penalties, neither is the EU within the place to observe what occurs to the navy gear it supplies ‘as soon as it’s handed over to companion governments and safety forces’ because the above talked about civil society assertion warns. The Council Decision states that the Political and Safety Committee (answerable for the implementation) ‘could resolve to droop wholly or partially the implementation of help measures on the request of a Member State or the Excessive Consultant (…) if the state of affairs within the nation or space of concern now not permits for the measure to be carried out while making certain enough ensures’. Such suspension appears unlikely, nonetheless, as, in line with the Q&A-webpage on the IMF, ‘[t]his is a extremely political determination that may solely be made on a case-by-case foundation and in line with the particular context’.

In conclusion, the EPF ought to be understood as additional accelerating the EU’s flip to militarism and masculinised energy, whereas additionally elevating new questions on how threat administration practices deem navy help and arms provisions professional. These developments are all of the extra troubling due to the EPF’s off-budget construction and lack of oversight. The IMF constitutes a picture of goal and depoliticised management of the EPF ‘help measures’ whereas it serves to legitimise an additional militarisation of the EU’s exterior engagement and obscures the politics and penalties of this transfer.


Hoijtink M and Muehlenhoff HL (2020) The European Union as a Masculine Army Energy: European Union Safety and Defence Coverage in ‘Instances of Disaster’. Political Research Overview 18(3): 362–377.

Stachowitsch S and Sachseder J (2019) The gendered and racialized politics of threat evaluation. The case of Frontex. Vital Research on Safety 7(2): 107–123.

Stavrianakis A (2016) Legitimising liberal militarism: politics, legislation and battle within the Arms Commerce Treaty. Third World Quarterly 37(5): 840–865.

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