Lesson 12: Partnerships II – Coordination


Following on from the issue of resource-sharing between the EU and its partners, there is also a need to improve a full range of coordination mechanisms where these actors share responsibilities in a host country. In some cases the EU has had to coordinate its takeovers of responsibilities from the UN, NATO, and the OSCE; in other cases the EU had to help fill a security gap until UN forces could arrive in the host country, and then coordinate a handover back to UN forces once they arrived. In this sense the EU can be seen as a crucial support mechanism for UN (and AU) operations in Africa in particular, with potential for other theatres.

Based on the findings of DL 2.1, DL 3.2, DL 4.1, DL 4.2, and DL 6.1, one critical lesson from these activities is that various donors like the EU and the UN have not just different resources/capabilities for conflict prevention and peacebuilding; they also may have different definitions and concepts regarding conflict, which can inhibit effective coordination. The EU therefore should attempt to improve its understanding of how its major partners prioritise their own conflict prevention and peacebuilding actions, as well as handle central issues like early-warning, capacity-building, local ownership, civilian-military coordination, and legitimacy. Greater understanding and, hopefully, the improved coordination that could result from it might inspire a more strategic approach to certain countries/regions (such as the Horn of Africa) where there is sustained interest on the part of several major donors, or in certain thematic areas regarding shared problems, such as the seven strategic areas for EU-NATO cooperation agreed at Warsaw (2016).

Also, the specific procedures of coordination for EU and its partners, whether formal or informal, have not always worked as desired depending on the host country and EU partner(s) involved; regularly evaluating and enhancing such measures along the entire chain of command for the EU and its partners should be a priority in all ongoing conflict prevention and peacebuilding missions (including via learning/lessons). The focus on enhancing the utility of informal methods could be very important as the tendency in the literature is to focus more on formal arrangements agreed among headquarters of IOs (see DL 4.2), and such formal methods (such as Berlin Plus between the EU and NATO) are not always effective. The EU should also consider how the presence of multiple donors (whether third states or IOs) in particular host country might even undermine or disrupt any shared conflict prevention and peacebuilding objectives, as some projects are implemented in countries/regions facing a range of political competitors to the EU (and other donors). This would include forecasting and mitigating the problems raised by alternative models of conflict prevention and peacebuilding and local capacity-building promoted by other donors, such as Russia, Turkey, and the United States.


Strengthen coordination mechanisms between the EU and its major partners regarding not just the implementation but also the concepts/strategies, planning, and evaluation of shared conflict prevention and peacebuilding tasks. These should include formal and informal methods, and should always consider the potential negative impact of working with certain partners and other outside donors.

Related Deliverables

dl_2-1DL 2.1
Procedures, Personnel and Technologies for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding: An Assessment of EU Member States’ Capabilities

Authors: De Zan, T., P. Tessari and B. Venturi
Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali

Published: 30 November 2016

[PDF, ~2.1MB; click to access]

dl_3-2DL 3.2
The EU’s Capabilities for Conflict Prevention

Authors: Davis, L., N. Habbida and A. Penfrat
Institution: European Peacebuilding Liaison Office

Published: 30 January 2017

[PDF, ~1MB; click to access]



dl_4-1DL 4.1
Reacting to Conflict: Civilian Capabilities in the EU, UN and OSCE

Authors: Dijkstra, H.P. Petrov and E. Mahr
Institution: Maastricht University

Published: 2 November 2016

[PDF, ~1.6MB; click to access]



DL 4.2
Partners in conflict prevention and peacebuilding: How the EU, UN and OSCE exchange civilian capabilities in Kosovo, Mali and Armenia

Authors: Dijkstra, H., E. Mahr, P. Petrov, K. Đokić, P.H. Zartsdahl
Lead Institution: Maastricht University

Published: 4 September 2017

[PDF, ~0.6MB; click to access]



DL 5.4
The EU’s Comprehensive Approach and its Implementation

Authors: Zartsdahl, P.H.K. Đokić and S. Simons
Lead Institution: Roskilde University

Published: 29 November 2018

[PDF, ~2.1MB; click to access]



DL 6.1
Evaluating international efforts on local capacity building

Authors: Juncos, A.E., G. Algar-Faria, T. Edmunds, K. Đokić, E. Plänitz, K. Abdi and S. Simons
Lead Institution: University of Bristol

Published: 25 May 2017

[PDF, ~0.9MB; click to access]