Lesson 19: Partnerships III – Exchanging capabilities


Following on from the previous Lesson Identified 11 (Partnerships I: Resources), which identified the importance of close working relationships between the EU and other actors in the realm of conflict prevention and peacebuilding, it is also possible to identify more specific lessons in this area based on evidence from specific case studies. DL 4.2 in particular examined the EU’s experience with key partners (the UN and the OSCE) in several host countries: Kosovo, Mali, and Armenia. It focused on the issue of exchanging civilian resources for conflict prevention and peacebuilding tasks; such resources can involve funds, staff, and equipment but also non-physical resources such as diplomacy and political support. Such exchanges can also involve formal and informal methods, and the EU could consider using both channels rather than rely exclusively on one or the other.

DL 4.2 also found several areas where exchanges could be improved, beginning with a need for a joint strategic approach to crises in host countries where the EU works closely with other partners. Coordination with partners is most intensive at the operational/tactical level, yet the EU and its partners could benefit from a more holistic and integrative approach so that resources are maximised for effectiveness and the possibility of duplicated effort (or working at cross-purposes) is minimised. This lesson also clearly dovetails with Lesson Identified 1 (EU strategies for conflict prevention and peacebuilding). In addition, enhanced strategic coordination could help improve the negative perceptions of the EU as a security actor held by other partners; such perceptions were found in all three host country cases examined by DL 4.2.

A joint strategic approach to crises by the EU and its partners also might expand the range of possible resource exchanges between them, and therefore enhance the effectiveness of such measures (at a maximum) and reduce wasted efforts (at a minimum). For example, DL 4.2 found that exchanges typically take the form of financial resources and diplomatic/political support. The case of Mali, however, shows that there is some scope for the exchange of mission support structures, as occurred between the UN and the EU in this instance. Even in the realm of diplomatic support, the EU could make a greater effort to issue supporting statements regarding the work of its partners and therefore help enhance their status in the realm of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. It should also take steps to reduce institutional fragmentation over the control of its own resources, across the EU and within specific bodies like the EEAS (see also Lesson Identified 6: Internal coordination).


Consider developing a joint strategic approach where the EU works closely on conflict prevention and peacebuilding with other key partners; this should include expanding the realm of resource exchanges beyond those already consider, while using both formal and informal coordination channels at the same time. The EU also should attempt to manage the perceptions of it held by other actors, as far as possible, while enhancing its own internal coordination and control over mission resources and their exchange with outside partners.

Related Deliverables

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. MahrP. PetrovK. ĐokićP.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]