How effective is the European Union in international peacekeeping?
The European Union (EU) strives to uphold peacekeeping by promoting their democratic values. These values are embedded in their Flag, which consists of a circle of twelve golden (yellow) stars on a blue background. It is the symbol not only of the EU but also of Europe’s unity and identity in a wider sense. The blue represents the west while the circle of twelve gold stars represents unity, solidarity and harmony between the peoples of Europe. Democracy strives to avoid an uneven distribution of power and often goes with the decision of the majority. Since the end of the Cold War, additional non-military elements designed to foster democratic institutions, the rule of law and respect for human rights, a functional police and judiciary and an electoral process that meets accepted international standards had been included in the peacekeeping operations of the European Union. Over the past five years, the European Union has significantly increased its operational contributions to international crisis management while working alongside the United Nations. For example, treaties like the NICE treaty and giving grants to countries help in preparing other countries for crisis management. Thus, the European Union has paved the way to increased peace. Thus, the European Union is successful in peacekeeping due to its democratic values.
The European Union used a content analytical method on the foreign policy declarations on both sides of the Atlantic regarding the peacekeeping missions. After extracting respective patterns in the perspectives of the transatlantic actors regarding peacekeeping, the paper concludes with some recommendations for future transatlantic cooperation in peacekeeping missions. Firstly, the share of the European Union Member States in the total United Nations peacekeeping budget is approximately 40 percent; and, the US currently pays 27 percent of the total UN peacekeeping budget. Secondly, the Cologne European Council meeting in June 1999 has placed the so-called St. Petersburg tasks – humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and combat-force tasks in crisis management – at the core of the process of strengthening the European Security and Defence Policy. In December 1999, the Helsinki European Council set the Headline Goal: by the year 2003, the Union should be able to deploy within sixty days, and sustain for at least one year, up to 60,000 troops. Accordingly, the first European Security and Defence Policy operation was launched in January 2003, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Union also currently runs military operations in Macedonia and Congo. The European Union hence has set aside money to be able to help countries which need money in future due to catastrophes such as Tsunamis. This ensures that no country decides to go against another in the event that the latter does not want to help the former in the condition of need of money. Thus, the European Union is successful in international peacekeeping due to its willingness to share resources with countries that need it.
The European Union has a standardised system of laws, which member countries have to follow and ensures peace as well as harmony among member countries. This system of laws maintains a high level of expectations from each of the member countries in terms of their discipline, economy and quality of governments. Once the rules are broken, the responsible member country may well be excluded from the European Union. The European Union poses many benefits which include economic growth, improved security and help from member countries. These benefits are considered so enticing that member countries could not even afford to think about disrupting the system or being hostile to other countries. Thus, this approach by the European Union is very effective in keeping the world safe, to a large extent.
The European Union specially formed a police peacekeeping force, which makes stability and order certain in Europe and many other countries. The force is intended for international missions covering the whole range of conflict prevention and crisis management operations. The police peacekeeping force looks to provide physical protection for most people all over the world. This is in the sense that bloody clashes and hostile situations are avoided, or, when it happens, are subdued immediately. Capably, this prevention, deterrence and protection method could well avert any potential threat to international peacefulness.
The change of roles of the president of the European Union for every six months could make the organization less efficient in terms of peacekeeping as more time and effort is wasted on appointing the right leaders than on preserving peace among the different nations. The president plays a vital part in the organization as the driving force in the decision making process but this only slows down the rate at which international peacekeeping is being maintained as the peacekeeping decisions of a president varies from nation to nation and this decision making process may last from weeks to even months. This shows how a change of president for every six months could compromise the effectiveness at which peacekeeping is being carried out for example, the passing of presidency from Slovenia (1 January to 30 June 2008) to France (1 July to 31 December 2008) which is vital due to the conflict in middle East between Sudan and Chad resulted in the slow deployment of troops to protect the refugees there. Another problem which could result from this changing of presidency would be that the decision made by the president may not necessarily be in favour with the rest of the European Union Constitutions and could take a long time before the decision is accepted and implemented therefore resulting in time and effort being wasted on deliberating than on peacekeeping. The Union is vulnerable to internal conflicts such as a civil unrest or economic problems among its members such as in Greece, which could hinder its aim in ensuring peace and stability, as the Union has to solve their own conflict first before looking to external ones. A good example would be the Greece’s debt crisis where it now faces a historical proportion of $303 billion foreign debt. Even though France and Germany have agreed to loan Greece to solve this problem, this would surely cause a major setback in the plans of the European Union as less resources are being redirected especially towards the international peacekeeping sector. This debt crisis might also take months to be resolved and this would then affect the amount of time left for the European Union to implement its peacekeeping treaties. Especially with the fact that majority of the European countries that are affiliated with the Union share a common currency which is the Euro including Greece therefore, a major decline in the currency would also affect the other nations on a global scale too. The root of this problem would be the typical old individual responsibility thing whereby each nation only cares for the problems within its own borders and do not take the responsibility to help other neighbouring nations out. Since most of the European nations are part of the European Union, there is this failure to recognize that a single problem could affect the others greatly and this would only result in the European Union facing with more internal conflicts to come hindering its aim in international peacekeeping.
It is an undeniable fact that the European Union plays a vital role in peacekeeping and security in the world. Despite having some flaws, their contributions to the world out-weigh their deficiency. If the Union are able to solve their existing problems, there is nothing that holds the Union back and they are able in carrying out their role as international peacekeeping with full efficiency.