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From comprehensive approach to comprehensive action: enhancing the effectiveness of the EU's contribution to peace and security [WP1202]


In association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands


This two-day conference helped to build on these developments, identify obstacles and ways forward to turn the Comprehensive Approach into action, and to provide input to the EEAS/Commission Joint Communication. The conference considered in depth what should be the elements of a truly Comprehensive Approach to conflict prevention, crisis response, CSDP and post conflict stabilisation by the EU, bringing together the political, security and development pillars, factoring in, where appropriate, its humanitarian work.

The meeting considered lessons to date drawn from the range of EU interventions (CSDP operations, conflict prevention, stabilisation and development programming in crisis) and, looking forward, will seek to define all elements of a Comprehensive Approach for the EU and to outline an overarching concept and plan of action for achieving it.

The EU is unique among international organisations and structures in having the potential to deliver from within its own capabilities the full range of instruments for conflict prevention and crisis intervention. This includes political, civilian, military and development components as well as its needs-based humanitarian action founded on the principles of independence, impartiality and neutrality. More could be done to realise that potential. Given continuing instability in many parts of the world, an increasing number of natural disasters, and constrained resources, it is imperative to continue working towards the more efficient and effective deployment of these available instruments. Recent efforts to do this have included a February 2012 one day conference in Brussels organised by the European Council on Foreign Relations and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on ensuring a comprehensive EU approach to crises. An EEAS/Commission Joint Communication on the Comprehensive Approach is being drafted and due to be released in early 2013.

For many years, politicians and officials have described a key EU added value in international security as its ability to bring together a wide range of capabilities, from diplomats to development projects and humanitarian delivery to military activities. The EU’s focus regarding implementation of such a ‘comprehensive approach’ has been on crisis management through Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions. However, there is increasing thinking that an EU comprehensive approach must apply to all phases of the conflict cycle. The threat or indeed use of force may be needed to create a framework for a political solution, but crisis response, whether military or civilian, can generally only support solutions to underlying problems that cause conflict rather than solve them on its own. Enduring solutions to conflict challenges almost always require a wider array of long-term programmes and missions. Effective conflict prevention will reduce the need for crisis intervention. In this context, the EU should take into consideration the following approaches and initiatives for using its capabilities in a more coherent, joined up way.

Further information

Operationalising the comprehensive approach


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