Recently, I've read a Guardian article, describing the risks of the European Peace Facility:

Despite its name, the European peace facility, worth €5bn over the next seven years, will allow the EU to provide equipment – including lethal weapons – to non-European militaries.

But I don't get it. The EU is an alliance of western countries. Democracies, members of G7 among them.

Why then is the EU providing weapons and training to other democratic countries considered bad/dangerous/risky?


3 Answers 3


Military cooperation with foreign countries means taking control of foreign policy. Single countries can, because foreign policy is still in their hands. At the EU level the agreements on this part are still weak and there is a limit to what the EU institutions are allowed to do.

The European Union started as an economic union, the first treaties founded what was then called the Common Market, then the scope of the union slowly broadened, but foreign policy is limited to commercial treaties and economic cooperation. In the past many proposals to form a common military structure were stopped by British opposition, so it is not a surprise that after the exit of the UK they are resurrected.

Trouble is that nobody knows how to define the future relationship of a European military alliance with NATO. Via NATO a lot of European foreign policy is decided by the US.

  • The unwritten long term objective of some key member states of the EU (usually called "the project" in Brussels) is of course a Federal Republic of Europe - preferably with a constitution stating that the Presidency will alternate between Germany and France. A common military structure is an obvious step towards that goal, not just in itself but because an EU-wide agreement on military spending would large step towards a future Federal European financial budget. I suspect the European Federalists would consider NATO to be a historical anomaly which is no longer necessary.
    – alephzero
    Jun 16, 2021 at 10:04
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    @alephzero The unwritten project sounds like a conspiracy theory. Anyway it is unrealistic and completely misses out the balance of power on the ground.
    – FluidCode
    Jun 16, 2021 at 10:10
  • @alephzero: That idea wouldn't even fly in the original EEC with 6 members. And as far as EU constitutions go, France shot down the proposal.
    – MSalters
    Jun 18, 2021 at 11:36

The short answer is that previous to the European Peace Facility the EU (as a whole, rather than individual countries) couldn't provide large scale military support to its partners outside Africa because of accounting.

While there are a number of mechanisms for the EU to raise funds, the original treaties didn't provide a way for the core EU budget to be spent on guns for third parties. This was originally worked around for Africa only by the creation of the African Peace Facility, with a budget of €740 million, which created a fund outside the core budget to finance security operations in Africa (not without criticism). The EPF creates a similar fund which isn't geographically restricted and has a larger budget.

Edit: To address the question of risk, this is is essentially the same brand of problem as handing a distant friend weapon "to protect themselves". They might chose to use the weapon to attack someone, or the weapon might be stolen and used to attack them, and all the usual arguments that come in to gun control. For the people worried about the fund, adding more guns to volatile areas isn't the way to increase security.

  • I understand this pretty clear. Question is "why this is bad?", rather than "what have changed?". There was see some possible miswording in Q, I've fixed it Jun 15, 2021 at 10:49
  • I see your edit, thank you for the response. But why then US(for example!) providing weapons to volatile areas IS the way to increase security? I don't understand the difference - both EU and the US (for example!) are democratic - so have similar views. Can't see what's wrong here Jun 15, 2021 at 11:01
  • @user2501323 Plenty of people (including I suspect many working at the Guardian newspaper) don't think that the US providing weapons improves world security, just as many people argue (in both directions) about the merits of arming civilian police officers. This is essentially a very large scale gun control argument.
    – origimbo
    Jun 15, 2021 at 11:06
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    Ah, get it. So, that's more against weapons providing as a whole, than particularly by the EU. Thank you, I'm glad to understand your point Jun 15, 2021 at 11:10
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    Is it much more than renaming "African Peace Facility" to "European Peace Facility" (and scaling up)? Isn't it still directed towards Africa? Jun 16, 2021 at 10:41

Because those countries receiving the help are not "democratic" according to European standards, they are comparatively unstable and have a bad track record on human rights.

Just reread the article you already linked, and for each country that is named which received military aid, read about its human rights situation, state of its democracy, etc..

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