Lesson 34: Integrated approach IV – Implementation


Building on Lessons 23, 24 and 25 on various aspects of the integrated approach, evidence from EU-CIVCAP fieldwork further suggests other areas of opportunity regarding its overall implementation as an organising principle for the EU’s conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities. This lesson also dovetails with Lessons 1 (EU strategies for conflict prevention and peacebuilding) and 6 (internal coordination), among others. The central challenge has been mentioned before in previous DLs/lessons: conflict prevention and peacebuilding is a decentralised policy domain, with multiple stakeholders in Brussels, EU member states, and host countries, so ad hoc, case-by-case coordination, no matter how formalised, is almost certainly going to fall short of delivering a truly integrated approach to conflict prevention and peacebuilding-related tasks without a greater degree of institutional reform than is currently underway.

DL 5.4 in particular addresses this challenge, and examines some current attempts by the EU to overcome the inherent paradox of a decentralised (if not fragmented) yet integrated approach to crisis management. In this sense it also builds upon our understanding of the EU’s already-existing Comprehensive Approach and related efforts, such as the creation of PRISM. It also questions the actual effectiveness of more informal methods of coordination (‘harmonization’ and information-sharing), as well as the leadership role of the EEAS in particular. Evidence for these conclusions comes from fieldwork from the Western Balkans and Horn of Africa, which suggests several best practices such as the establishment of a common strategic vision established between member states, EU Delegation, and CSDP missions, as well as the long(er)-term commitment and focus on prevention created through coordination with the UN and larger member states. The exchange of staff and support between EUNAVFOR Atalanta and EUCAP Somalia are specific examples to follow in terms of civil-military synergies and cooperation across the civil-military divide.

The top-down changes in leadership required by the integrated approach (see Recommendations) further indicates a need to revise the lower-level resourcing and staffing of EU Delegations as envisioned in the comprehensive/integrated approach, as well as a more flexible exchange of resources and knowledge between the Delegation and CSDP missions and instruments. This would include enhancing shared conflict analysis and systems for sharing sensitive and operational information. With no common operational picture available to all EU staff (not just those sitting in coordination boards and committees), coherence will be severely challenged. The information shared should include EU common positions, but also an explication of positions where member states diverge, so that all EU staff are able to act and be perceived to represent a unified block by local partners, particularly host nation governments.


A strategy of coherence requires reforms to leadership, tasking, ownership, and incentivising. This includes the integration of leadership and command structures on the operational level and the delegation of decision-making. The EU should also provide resources for operational and tactical level conflict analysis and simple system(s) for sharing sensitive and operational information between instruments. Best practices from the Horn of Africa should be duplicated in other contexts.

Related Deliverables

DL 4.3
Report on EU comprehensive approach to conflict prevention and peacebuilding

Authors: Faleg, G.N. PirozziB. Venturi and N. Habbida
Lead Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies

Published: 23 March 2018

[PDF, ~0.8MB; 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]