Learning in European Union peacebuilding: rhetoric and reality

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The EU’s growth as a security actor since 2003 has been closely accompanied by the development of various learning mechanisms in order to help improve the EU’s performance in this realm. As most such activities have involved civilian missions rather than military operations, this article focuses on the learning
culture underpinning the EU’s civilian conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities. This is especially critical as the EU has increasingly framed these efforts in terms of adaptive and ideational factors in host countries (training, mentoring, reform, advising, capacity-building, resilience, etc.) rather than as “interventions”whereby the EU deploys its own resources to manage host country problems. In other words, the EU is attempting to enhance the ability of host countries to prevent or manage conflicts on their own. However, it is also clear that such efforts do not always produce the desired results in host
countries, especially in a crisis situation, and that the EU does not always follow its own procedures regarding learning. Therefore despite considerable progress since 2003 there is still much room for improvement in this realm, along with a need for broader institutional reforms to improve the EU’s capabilities as a security actor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-225
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Affairs
Issue number2-3
Early online date3 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

I would like to acknowledge financial support of the European Research Council (grant number 203613) and the EU Horizon2020 programme (grant number 653227) for the financial support of the projects discussed in this paper (EUCONRES and EU-CIVCAP). I am also grateful to the comments of Ana Juncos and Steven Blockmans, as well as to the rest of the EU-CIVCAP research team for producing the deliverables summarized in this paper. Finally, I would like to acknowledge a research fellowship awarded by Robert Schuman Centre of the European University Institute, where this paper was written as part of a special forum for Global Affairs.


  • CFSP
  • CSDP
  • learning
  • foreign policy
  • security policy
  • peace building


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