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Questions & Answers: The European Peace Facility


The European Peace Facility is a new off-budget fund, designed to prevent conflicts, preserve peace and strengthen international security, for the benefit of EU citizens, our partners and their populations.

What is the European Peace Facility?

The European Peace Facility (EPF) is a new fund worth €5 billion financed outside the EU Budget, for a period of seven years (the current Multiannual Financial Framework 2021- 2027). This facility will fill a gap in the EU’s external action by creating one instrument to finance Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) actions in military and defence areas.

The EPF replaces the Athena mechanism and the African Peace Facility, which will cease to exist. It will take over the military and defence related aspects previously covered under those instruments.

The EPF will fund the common costs of the military Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations. It will also finance the military and defence related aspects of Peace Support Operations led by the African Union, supported under the African Peace Facility.

In addition, the EU will be able to support partner countries bilaterally in military and defence matters. The assistance granted will no longer be limited to Africa, but can benefit partners in other regions that face major security challenges and that EU Member States decide to support. 

Finally, the EU will have the possibility to provide military equipment to increase partners’ defence capabilities. The EU will be able not only to train partners, but also to equip them, subject to strict safeguards and control mechanisms and in full compliance with human rights and International Humanitarian Law.


What is the added value of the EPF?

The EPF addresses the limitations of its predecessor’s instruments. It will cover an increased range of funding of the common costs of EU military missions and operations and allow the EU to support to partners on a global level, either bilaterally or through international or regional organisations.

The EPF will enable capacity-building activities for military actors, and the provision of training, equipment and infrastructure for security purposes. Other types of support, for example for development-related purposes or for the civilian security sector, will continue to be funded on the EU budget. This will allow the EU to improve the capacities of partners to address crises, prevent conflicts and cater for their own security and stability by themselves – to the benefit of their population. 

With a value of up to €5 billion for the seven-year period of the MFF, the EPF will ensure that EU funding is available on a reliable and predictable basis, while allowing not only for rapid crisis response and provision of urgent assistance, but also for longer-term capacity building support to the EU’s partners. The objective of the mechanism is thus to close existing gaps in the EU’s toolbox, enabling the EU to do more and to act more swiftly. In this manner, the EPF will maximise the impact, effectiveness and sustainability of overall EU external action in peace and security.


What countries can benefit from the EPF?

The EPF will have a global geographic scope. EU Member States are currently discussing priority regions for action, in line with existing EU strategies, based on partners’ needs and the security challenges they are facing.


Funding and management

Where will the money come from?

The EPF will be financed through contributions by EU Member States based on a Gross National Income distribution key. This is what we call an “off-budget” instrument.

The Council has unanimously decided to fund the European Peace Facility outside of the EU Budget in line with article 41(2) of the Treaty on the European Union.

For off-budget instruments, EU Member States pay their contributions directly every year, based on the estimated annual budget for the EPF.


How big will the budget of the EPF be?

The EPF has a financial ceiling of €5 billion. This  means that this is the maximum amount Member States can decide to allocate to this new instrument, as agreed in the July 2020 European Council.


Who will manage the EPF?

As a CFSP instrument, its implementation will be ensured by the High Representative, with the support of the European External Action Service. For the purposes of financial administration, the High Representative will be assisted also by the Commission's Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) for assistance measures. The General Secretariat of the Council will be the administrator for common costs of military CSDP missions or operations.

An EPF Committee composed of all Member States representatives will manage the EPF, in particular budgets and accounts. The Council will take political decisions on the EPF, such as where the assistance should be allocated, based on proposals by the High Representative. Member States can also submit proposals for assistance measures under the EPF.


What type of equipment cannot be funded by the EPF?

The EPF can provide all kind of support related to military and defence matters that are not funded by the EU Budget.

The Council will decide what kind of assistance and equipment can be supplied according to the needs of our partners. It will assess the level of guarantees and safeguards for adequate use, respect of human rights and international humanitarian law as well as other criteria such as ownership, avoidance of diversion, local absorption capacity, sustainability of the EU investment, etc.

This is framed by Article 49(5) of the Council decision, “No assistance measure shall be used for the supply of any items which would be inconsistent with Union law or with the international obligations of the Union or of all the Member States”.

For examples, landmines would be banned as all EU Member States are parties to the Ottawa convention.


Monitoring and mitigating measures

How will you ensure that military equipment does not end up in the wrong hands or is used to commit human rights violations?

The Council will put in place an integrated framework consisting of compliance and control tools/mechanisms which the  beneficiary who receives military equipment must adhere to. In case of violations of the terms of the agreement, the Council decides on whether an assistance measure should be suspended or terminated.

EPF assistance measures will be based on thorough context and conflict analyses and on the risks associated with the provision of military equipment. The greater the risk, the more robust the safeguards and risk mitigating measures the EU will employ. The Council may also decide that, in certain situations, the EPF is not the right instrument and that other support measures might be better suited to help partners provide for their own security and protect their population.

The decisions to provide assistance under the EPF will always be taken case by case in a comprehensive and responsible manner, based on context assessments and political commitments from the beneficiary. The aim is to support better living and safety conditions for the population, to contribute to a safe environment that allows for the provision of basic services to the population, promoting human and socio-economic development and the rule of law.

EPF assistance will not be considered in isolation, but within a broader political and diplomatic approach.

You can find more information on the methodology that will be used here.


What happens if the assistance measure is terminated, but the equipment have already been provided?

This scenario refers to the case where there has been infringement to the commitments of the beneficiary, leading to a Council decision to terminate the assistance measure before its planned end.

Unless the beneficiary accepts to voluntary send back the equipment provided, the Council will have to decide on the appropriate reaction. This is a highly political decision that can only be made on a case-by-case basis and according to the specific context.

This risk will have to be very carefully assessed at the time of the decision and then after during the implementation of the assistance, and to be continued after the transfer of ownership of the equipment to the beneficiary to be able to prevent any possible infringement.


See also