Lesson 05: Mission support


Although the EU has a wide range of both short-term and long-term approaches to conflict prevention and peacebuilding, involving many different policy tools under the more general rubric of the ‘Integrated Approach’, it still relies fairly heavily on a mission-oriented response framework, using the CSDP in particular. As most of these missions (particularly the larger ones) are resourced on a case-by-case basis by a combination of EU institutions, EU member states, and private contractors, there is considerable room for improvement in terms of providing adequate staff and equipment, as well as ensuring that every mission is working as a coherent entity in order to carry out various conflict prevention and peacebuilding related tasks.

DL 3.2 for example found that the EU could develop further its capacities for preventive diplomacy in situations at risk of escalating into conflict. This could include for example reinforcing and tailoring the support provided to EUSRs and heads of Delegations in charge of carrying out dialogue in conflict-affected countries (e.g. mediation and analysis training, support staff) and by including conflict expertise in their job descriptions (for example, conflict analysis, preventative diplomacy, mediation and dialogue). Such measures could apply to both short-term CSDP missions and long-term dialogue/state-building efforts on the part of the EU.

Similarly, DL 4.1 found that although the EU has made major advances in terms of equipment, mission support, procurement procedures, and the establishment of the CSDP warehouse, the ‘key shortfall’ has been in the area of mission support. The recent agreement to establish a Mission Support Platform is helpful in this respect. Paid for by the missions collectively, this Platform will lead to the centralisation of support functions in Brussels and allow the EU to retain key expertise once a mission winds down. However, the proposed Mission Support Platform still does not live up to the EU’s ambitions for conflict prevention and peacebuilding; nor do the EU’s efforts as a whole bring it closer to the conflict prevention and peacebuilding practices employed by the UN and the OSCE. Ideally, according to DL 4.1, the Mission Support Platform should clear the field missions from most administrative procedures, but also provide capacity when launching new missions. This clearly requires more than, say, one logistical expert in Brussels, meaning that the Platform needs to be not just established as quickly as possible, but also strengthened.

Finally, and in addition to its more general recommendation about fully implementing Goalkeeper, DL 2.1 noted that mission resources/support could be enhanced (along with standing resources) if the EU could more effectively integrate data by ICTs within its early warning system. This would help EU staff in Brussels and in host countries gain a better understanding of conflict dynamics in general and identify countries at risk of conflict in particular, a finding echoed by DL 3.1.


Provide more conflict prevention support to EU Delegations, make better use of ICT/data, and expand the Mission Support Platform by increasing the number of personnel allocated to it.

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 2.5: Dual use technologies and civilian capabilities: Beyond pooling and sharing

Authors: Aversano Stabile, A.A. MarroneN. Pirozzi and B. Venturi
Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali

Published: 25 September 2018

[PDF, ~0.5MB; click to access]


dl_3-1DL 3.1: Report on Technological Shortcomings in Early Warning and Conflict Analysis

Authors: Berglund, J. and D. Bruckert
Institution: European Union Satellite Centre

Published: 30 January 2017

[PDF, ~1.5MB; 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]


Related Lessons