Stability Instrument

The European Union established a ‘Rapid Reaction Mechanism’ (RRM) in February 2001 to offer a ‘rapid, efficient and flexi­ble’ response to actual or prospective emergencies in third countries. In November 2006, this mechanism was updated and replaced by a new, broader ‘Instrument for Stability’, usually referred to as the Stability Instrument.

Part of the Union’s strategy for civilian (as opposed to military) crisis management and conflict prevention, under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the successive mechanisms have been targeted at ‘situations of crisis or emerging crisis’, including those ‘posing a threat to law and order, the security and safety of individuals’ and/or ‘threatening to escalate into armed conflict or to destabilise the country’ in question, as the original Council regulation put it in 2001. The remit of the Stability Instrument was widened by the joint Parliament-Council regulation five years later to helping ‘preserve, establish or re-establish the conditions essential to the proper implementation’ of EU development policy and to ‘build capacity … to address specific global and trans-regional threats having a destabilising effect’ in ‘pre- and post-crisis situations’. The instrument may now be used to address nuclear safety and proliferation, trafficking, terrorism and other forms of organised crime.

Both the RRM and Stability Instrument have operated in parallel to separate Union policies for development and humanitarian aid, administered by EuropeAid and ECHO, specialist directorates-general within the European Commission. The vehicles for delivering the crisis support may be government agencies, international organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and public or private operators. The RRM could provide assistance for a maximum of six months and drew on a relatively modest budget (of € 30 million in 2005), whereas interventions under the Stability Instrument may last up to 18 months and enjoy more generous funding: spending on the Stability Instrument amounted to € 198 million in 2011.

Examples of interventions since 2001 have included the financing of mediation for, and monitoring of, peace or ceasefire agreements (in Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka), the demobilisation and reintegration of combatants (Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia), the establishment of civilian administrations (Afghanistan and DRC), monitoring or support for elections (in Iraq, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Chechnya), and immediate post-Tsunami reconstruction (in Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia).

See also EU Military Committee.

September 2012

Copyright: Anthony Teasdale, 2012

Citation: The Penguin Companion to European Union (2012), additional website entry


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