How the EPF Might Invigorate Germany’s Ambitions in Africa

The European Peace Facility. A Controversial Off-Budget Fund With Major Policy Implications

Essay, 2021

11 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Current situation and developments
II.1 The European Peace Facility
II.2 Germany’s Foreign Policy Project: The Marshall Plan with Africa
II.3 Actual German Foreign Policy in Africa and its motivation

III. Is the EPF in accordance with German and European Values and Policy Ambitions?

IV. Conclusion

Publication bibliography

I. Introduction

2021 marks a major change for German foreign policy towards Africa. Joint African and European action supporting peace and security formerly was facilitated by and through United Nations mandates as well as the African Peace Facility (APF). The latter was considered a successful example of the European Union’s (EU) partnership with the African Union (AU). (Poulton et al. 2010, p. 2) But with the creation of the new European Peace Facility (EPF) this instrument will be replaced. In 2020, the Council of the EU reached a political agreement on the EPF. (Council of the European Union 2020b) These developments open up new possibilities for more direct and more effective action of the EU and Germany. The EPF also allows to extend the involvements to a global scale whilst lifting existing limitations – such as coordinating peace and security actions with the AU. (European External Action Service (EEAS) 2020). However, the European Peace Facility is not uncontroversial.

This paper shall give an overview over the EU’s new EPF, briefly outline the current situation of German policy guidelines and involvement on the African continent, introduce the new opportunities European and German foreign policy makers gain with the EPF and take criticism towards the new EPF into consideration. Furthermore, it shall be discussed if and how the EPF works in accordance with the policy goals defined in the Marshall Plan with Africa.

II. Current situation and developments

II.1 The European Peace Facility

Initially proposed in 2017 by Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EPF is an off-budget fund allocating up to 5 billion Euros over the period of 2021 to 2027 to “finance external action having military or defence implications, under the Common Foreign and Security Policy, with the aim to prevent conflict, preserve peace and strengthen international security and stability”. (Council of the European Union 2020b) It aims to lift existing limitations and to allow for more direct action of the EU in terms of peace and security missions, arms export and cooperation and coordination with governments and regional organizations. (European External Action Service (EEAS) 2020)

German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, considers the EPF a “fundamental investment in peace and stability that will allow the EU and its partners to effectively and flexibly address international crises”. (Council of the European Union 2020b) The EPF’s new possibilities for “addressing” international crises marks a paradigm shift for EU and German foreign policy, stated Arnold Wallraff, former president of BAFA1 earlier this year. (Laghai and Kordes 2021) With the EU always having been a civilian Union, there is one particular change that surprised him. The EU has up until the implementation of the EPF always been restricted by Article 41(2) of the Treaty of the EU forbidding the use of budgetary resources for military or defence spending, with the idea of the EU being a peace project. (Furness and Bergmann 2018, p. 3) However, the new EPF allows to extend the European engagement from training and supporting local partners to even equipping them with military goods such as ammunition and weapons by financing transfers of armaments and further military equipment. (Hauk and Mutschler 2020, p. 2) The chair of the European Parliament (EP) Committee on Foreign Affairs, David McAllister, believes that this way the EU can react much faster and with more effective instruments to crises. There is no reason to be worried according to him, as the EU member states will control the European Arms export. (Ueberbach 2021)

But observers are worried, that the EPF will be not quite as controllable and predictable. (International Crisis Group 2021, p. 11) Especially in terms of funding and especially because the amount of money to be allocated for the EPF (5 billion Euros) will be significantly higher than the amount allocated for the previous seven years in the APF (about 2.6 billion Euros). (European Commission 2019, p. 5) While the EPF will have more money, it will also have more beneficiaries. Besides covering the EU’s own military missions in Mali and Somalia, the EPF most probably will cover contributions to local African militaries and regional groups. (International Crisis Group 2021, p. 11) This can also include, as stated above, the financing of military equipment from Africa to Europe. And we have not yet taken those peace and security projects into consideration that are outside the African continent.

Another major point of critique is the lack of oversight by the African Union. During the APF, the African Union had a considerable oversight in funding decisions and where the EU’s financial support on the AU’s continent were channelled and spent. (International Crisis Group 2021, p. 12) This has not only helped to reinforce the AU’s role in questions of African peace and security, but it has solidified the integrated approach and coordination and protected against questionable requests. The EPF, bypassing this supervising authority, may even undermine the effectiveness and legitimacy of the AU. (Deneckere 2019, p. 8) At this point in time, it is unclear how much European support for the AU still remains, and this goes not only for the mere financial part. Still, a reducing the numbers of hands the money passes through can be important when fighting the misdirection of funds.

Furthermore, it is worth noticing that in the past, the EU has sometimes overlooked questions of human rights by partners (not only) on the African continent. (ibid.) Bypassing the AU in this matter is highly questionable.

The EPF will add a new dimension to the existing instruments, such as the APF, the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) and the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) budget as well as the Athena Mechanism and link those vast field of issues ranging from peacebuilding and conflict prevention to election monitoring and civilian crisis missions with actual military engagement und support, which was only precedented by the temporarily introduced IcSP. (Deneckere 2019, p. 3) This opens up lots of new possibilities, also for German policy makers.

II.2 Germany’s Foreign Policy Project: The Marshall Plan with Africa

German ambitions on the African continent might be best described in the Marshall Plan with Africa. This is a document edited by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), aiming to establish a strategic partnership for development and peace between Germany and Member States of the African Union. Based on ten crucial points, the main objectives are to reduce poverty, strengthen peace and security, promote local economies and markets, ensuring an attractive investment environment, promoting trade both between Europe and Africa as well as inner-African trade and ensuring the rule of law, human rights and good governance. (Marshall Plan Project Group, BMZ 2017, pp. 5–6) This strategic partnership shall give answers to some of the continent’s most pressing questions and problems: Well-educated and trained professionals such as doctors or teachers are forced to leave the continent as it is getting increasingly difficult to find employment, about 20.000 medical staff leave the continent each year. (Seitz et al. 2018, p. 137) The continent also has the highest numbers of unemployment worldwide (ibid, p. 222) and access to basic health infrastructure and clean drinking water is not always guaranteed, leading to hundreds of thousands of infections and deaths annually. (ibid, p. 111; p. 147) Massive problems with corruption are obstacles impeding good governance and well run democracies. (Neumann 2020, p. 143) Western observers and policy makers in particular are alarmed by the ongoing armed conflicts as well as threats linked to jihadism and terrorism. (Steinberg and Weber 2015)

When it comes to the motivation of German policy makers to enter this strategic partnership, all of the issues mentioned above, but especially the latter, are of key importance. Apart from a general wish to sustain a certain influence on the African continent, three main objectives of German foreign policy makers can be identified: Fighting terrorism, combatting the causes for flight and migration, and creating opportunities for German trade and investment while keeping an access to valuable resources.

With the EPF bringing a change first and foremost for the field of peace and security, this paper shall focus on the first two points in the following.

II.3 Actual German Foreign Policy in Africa and its motivation

Traditionally, Germany was considered a “civilian power” by a majority of observers. A civilian power generally tries to avoid the use of military force to achieve its objectives in foreign policy, but rather relies on multilateralism and economic cooperation. (Kundnani 2011, p. 32) The emphasis on multilateral action instead of working alone is crucial to understanding Germany foreign policy. Especially in questions of military and defence, Germany has traditionally been quiet, but not inactive. Being member of several multilateral organisations, such as the EU, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations (UN) (Maull 2018, p. 461), the Federal Republic of Germany has been part of military operations, even if they have usually been training or support missions, and not in combat.

This can be observed on the African Continent as well. Currently, German Armed Forces conduct reconnaissance, peacebuilding and training missions in several states such as South Sudan, Western Sahara, and the G5 Sahel region including Mali as well as maritime missions in the Mediterranean and off the Somali coast. (Bundesministerium der Verteidigung (BMVG) 2021) So far, none of these actions are classified as combat. But with the EPF this might change.

So, what has changed? Why are Germany and Europe moving away from being “civilian” entities and towards being more active militarily?

A central reason might be the increase in migration over the last decade. It goes without saying, that this is not the only reason, with e.g., the EU being a result of a long peace process post- World War II which is crucial to its peaceful orientation. Another reason might be combatting terrorism after the events of 9/11 and countless acts of terror ever since. However, this section focuses on one of the currently most pressing and most defining issues for European and German foreign policy.

With ever rising numbers of migration, having more than doubled in this decade from around 11 million refugees in 2011 to 26 million in 2019, not counting internally displaced people, (UNHCR 2019, p. 72) migration has been a major topic of discussion long before the refugee crisis in 2015. In the midst of this crisis, however, there have been remarkable developments in Germany’s role in the EU. Reiners and Tekin have shown, how, during the crisis, the activities and responsibilities of the European Council were expanded. (Reiners and Tekin 2020, p. 8) Because decisions are generally taken by consensus in the Council, there is a potential for vetoes. Nevertheless, German Chancellor Merkel, at this point being the longest reigning head of government in the EU, managed to exert her influence accordingly. (ibid.) Thanks to spot-on preparation, knowledge, and experience as well as successful building of coalitions, the Chancellor managed to reinforce Germany’s position in the EU and in dealing with the issue of migration during the “crisis mode”. (ibid.)

A fund or facility like the EPF, with the capacities of EU-facilitate arms trade, has been a long-standing idea in the EU. Germany’s enhanced leadership, together with the French Republic, and the events during the 2015 refugee crisis as well as the wish by some to protect, or rather close, European borders to growing numbers of migrants especially after the crisis (AFP 2016) might have been central motivations to make it possible. With conservative majorities in the EP, the popular mandate might be clear.

III. Is the EPF in accordance with German and European Values and Policy Ambitions?

To compare the German Foreign Policy ambitions to the EPF, the 2017’s Marshall Plan with Africa is helpful. Focussing on its peace and security ambitions, there seems to be quite a difference between the BMZ’s and the EU’s ambition. In an assessment of the Marshall plan so far published by the BMZ as recent as the end of last month, the AU program “Silencing the guns in Africa” and the AU’s central role in peace and security on the continent are praised. (BMZ 2021, p. 14) This seems almost somewhat cynical, given the fact that just in the same month the Council of the EU adopted a fund to facilitate arms transfers to Africa. The Marshall Plan assessment sees quite good developments in terms of trade and economic development, (ibid., p. 6-12) which certainly are its key aspects, but the peace and security domain does not show off any spectacular events. Maybe the more targeted and direct approaches of the EPF can be of help. Nevertheless, it remains problematic that the African voices are not included. A situation that has been heavily criticised already for the Marshall Plan in 2017. Scholars from both Europe (Kappel 2017, p. 2) and Africa (Koigi 2016) had pointed out, that the plan for future development partnership between the two continents was made without the contributions or opinions of any African state, regional organisation or development researches whatsoever. This bypassing or overriding of Africas own interests and opinions is visible with the EPF, too. Another body of control, whose oversight might be exempted, as the EPF is off budget, is the EP. (Furness and Bergmann 2018, p. 3) This would give the executive organs a free pass, which could lead to dangerous unregulated actions.


1 The BAFA (Bundesamt für Wirtschaft- und Ausfuhrkontrolle) is the German Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control.

Excerpt out of 11 pages


How the EPF Might Invigorate Germany’s Ambitions in Africa
The European Peace Facility. A Controversial Off-Budget Fund With Major Policy Implications
University of Erfurt  (Staatswissenschaftliche Fakultät)
German Foreign Policy
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
European Peace Facility, Außenpolitik, Internationale Beziehungen, Peace, Frieden, Security, Sicherheit, Foreign Policy, Afrika, Marshall Plan, Policy, 2021, Paradigmenwechsel, Waffenexport, Arms trade, Arms export control
Quote paper
Gian D. Gantenbein (Author), 2021, How the EPF Might Invigorate Germany’s Ambitions in Africa, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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