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European Union development cooperation in fragile states: challenges and opportunities

Research reports

Written by Mikaela Gavas

The study analyses the strengths and weaknesses of current EU engagement in fragile states, and in particular its support to conflict prevention and periods of transition, within the broader international context.

It examines the limitations of the instruments and methods implemented by the EU to address the problems of fragile states and identifies what could be done to improve them.

Key weaknesses of the EU’s programmes in fragile and conflict-affected states include insufficient analysis of the root causes of fragility, ineffective early warning systems, and insufficient coordination with other international actors engaged in fragile and conflict- affected states. These challenges are not dissimilar to those experienced by other international actors. However, the EU’s performance is exacerbated by a number of factors that are specific to its organisational and resourcing arrangements. These include the internal fragmentation of policy responsibility at headquarter level, inadequate translation of policy into programming at country level and insufficient instrumental coherence.

Investing in expertise in fragility and conflict-prevention has not, to date, been a priority, particularly at the operational level. The study’s main recommendation is the finalisation of the Action Plan on security, fragility and development, to mutually reinforce the EU’s objectives in development cooperation, humanitarian assistance, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and international security and to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the various institutions responsible for fragility and conflict at a policy and operational level.

The study also recommends convening a high-level coordination group on fragility at headquarter level to agree policies and monitor progress and devolving decision-making on integrated prog ramming and flexible resource utilisation in fragile and conflict-affected states to Heads of Delegation.

Mikaela Gavas, Fiona Davies and Alastair McKechnie