Committee on Security and Defense

Many countries close to Europe are still undergoing violent conflicts that endanger their safety and stability. How can the European Union make best use of the European Neighbourhood Policy to support peace in its surroundings?

Chairpersons : Yanis Lunetta (FR) and David Zalinyan (AM)

Subject introduction

In 2004, the EU has introduced the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) with the aim of promoting and creating better economic integration and political association between the EU and its south and east neighbouring nations.1Since then, situation in many surrounding countries has deteriorated.

After the 2011 series of protests across the Middle East and North Africa, widely known as the Arab Spring, and the Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine, in 2015 the EU has revised and extended the framework of this policy to include the promotion of peace and the migration and the mobility of population.

As of now, there are 7 conflict zones in neighbouring regions, namely the Civil War in
Libya, Islamist Militancy in Egypt, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Sectarian Conflict in Lebanon, Civil War in Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, and Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine. All of these conflicts, apart from being unwanted wars in the immediate surroundings of the EU, are a threat for the EU due to the fact some of these countries involved are crucial political and trade partners, especially in the energy sector.2 This is why some conflicts which have a direct impact on the security and stability of the EU require a special attention and better involvement from the EU so as to avoid or limit economic and political risks.

For the energy transition that European policymakers are promoting to be smoothly introduced, the EU needs to secure its energy sources, either by aiding its commercial partners through established policies such as ENP and all its components, or by shifting its energy trade partners, and encouraging other kinds of partnerships with the surrounding countries.

Furthermore, a number of ‘frozen conflicts’ in Europe’s eastern and southern neighbourhood have the potential to turn into open conflict and destabilise the region. Three of these ‘frozen conflicts’ can be found in the South Caucasus: South-Ossetia and Abkhazia as a result of the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia and subsequent mediation by the EU, and Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of the Armenian – Azerbaijani war and the 1994 ceasefire.

The freezing of conflicts results in a situation where a conflict is neither resolved, nor openly violent. The ceasefire has been seen as “one of Europe’s most important political innovations”3, but at the same time it also could mean there is a failure to resolve a conflict, thus maintaining the risk to security and stability. This issue has been recognised by the European Union: its 2003 European Security Strategy specifically refers to frozen conflicts on the borders of the EU.

Conflicts do not only damage the concerned region, but also pose a threat to the EU and neighbouring countries. Their consequences include displacement of migrants living in conflict zones and those undertaking perilous journeys, for example, crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe, as is the case for the civil wars in Syria and Libya. Apart from the fact that refugees are seeking safe place, they also wish for their basic human rights to be protected (it is widely agreed that the protection of human rights in conflict zones is practically nonexistent).

Conflicts obviously also bring economic and social ruin to the affected regions. Within the European Neighbourhood Policy, Libya and Syria can serve as examples as their economies based on oil sales have practically collapsed. The list of issues arising from armed conflicts large and small is virtually endless.

The EU’s objective to promote peace and security is at the centre of the European project. The founding values of the European Union still form the core of its policy, specified in the treaties as: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. These aims and values are expressed both in the EU’s internal policy of deepening the ties between the Member States, and in its external policy regarding enlargement and Europe’s neighbourhood.4 Enlargements, in turn, have steadily increased the area of peace, stability, democracy and prosperity that the EU now constitutes. Yet with European politicians excluding the prospects of EU enlargement (which would work as an incentive), the promotion
of democratization, peace and stability has become much less effective.

There is no doubt that the European Union is an increasingly important global actor. It is currently the largest economy in the world, the largest trading block as well as the biggest aid donor. But as a global actor in the realm of peace and security, the EU still fails to exert its influence.

Relevant EU policies:

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)
Created in 2004, the ENP has as objective to promote and create better economic integration and political association between the EU and nations neighbouring it south and east. This policy was reviewed in 2015 to extend and redirect its basic strategy policy to an objective of stabilisation of the regions in political, economic and security-related terms.5 The policy now covers a wide range of cooperation sectors:
1) economic development with the aim of stabilisation,
2) peace and security,
3) migration and mobility.
The ENP constitutes a policy which requires the EU to utilise strategic tools such as ENI (European Neighbourhood Instrument) and other to implement policy objectives. For this reason, the EU allocated €15.4 billion for the 2014-2020 period for the European Neighbourhood Instrument.

The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP)
The IcSP is an EU instrument to support security initiatives and peace-building activities in partner countries. It was established in 2014 to replace the Instrument for Stability (IfS). Part of the EU’s new generation of instruments for financing external action, the IcSP focuses on crisis response, crisis preparedness, conflict prevention and peace-building. Budget: € 2.3 billion for 2014-2020.

Eastern Partnership (EaP)
It is a joint initiative involving the EU Member states and six other European countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. In response to the post-soviet conflicts that largely affected the development of the aforementioned countries, the Eastern Partnership is to enable “building a common area of shared democracy, prosperity, stability and increased cooperation”.
For instance, Ukraine is now a priority partner within the ENP and forms a Deep and
Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU since 2016. Since June 2017, Ukrainian (along with Georgian and Moldovan) citizens no longer require visas to travel to the Schengen zone for tourism, family visits and business reasons.

Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP)
Partners: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey.
The Middle East is today the source of acute strategic challenges that are strongly affecting the international scene. The key objective of this trade partnership is the creation of a deep Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area, which aims at removing barriers to trade and investment between both the EU and Southern Mediterranean countries and between the Southern Mediterranean countries themselves. Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements are in force with most of the partners (with the exception of Syria and Libya, currently affected by war).

Key Actors

European Union is the main actor and has several instruments for conflict-prevention and peacebuilding projects at its disposal, such as the European Neighbourhood Policy, European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace and the Common Security and Defence Policy.

UN Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is unique as it is striving to resolve conflicts with diplomacy, and create security through cooperation. OSCE Minsk group is the most active actor in building peace in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Arab League is a loose confederation of twenty-two Arab nations, including Palestine, whose broad mission is to improve coordination among its members on matters of common interest. Critics also say it has traditionally been more representative of its various autocratic regimes than of Arab citizens.

There are also several international organizations and research institutes that are collecting data and publish reports about the statuses of the conflicts. Some of them are the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, International Crisis Group, International Institute of Strategic Studies, European Network for Conflict Research, European Institute of Peace.


1. European Neighbourhood Policy, European Commission, December 6, 2016,
2. More than half (54.0 %) of the EU-28’s gross inland energy consumption in 2015 came from imported sources. Source: Energy production and imports, Eurostat, June 2017,
3. M.J. Faber, Cold Wars and Frozen Conflicts: The European Experience in Global Insecurity, ed. M Kaldor, London, New York, 2000, p. 55.
4. Article 2 TEU.
5. European…, op. cit.