Page last updated at 02:17 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 03:17 UK

EU peace support work 'failing'

By Jonathan Marcus
BBC diplomatic correspondent

Afghan children pose before lessons in a mosque in Kabul
The EU supports work in Afghanistan, among other countries

The European Union's peace support efforts around the world have been heavily criticised in a new report.

Despite drawing on what is collectively the world's largest development budget, many countries, it says, fail to live up to the commitments they make.

The study is published by the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The findings are given added importance by the fact that the EU - if its Lisbon Treaty comes into force - could embark on major foreign policy reform.

'Civilian power'

From Afghanistan to the Horn of Africa, it is increasingly clear that it is the weakness of many countries that poses the greatest challenge to world order and stability.

Dealing with failed or failing states - identifying their problems early on and applying appropriate remedies - will be crucial.

The European Union certainly believes that this is an area where it has much to offer.

With a vast budget and human resources to draw upon, the EU sees itself as a "civilian power".

But, as the report from the European Council on Foreign Relations makes clear, the EU's track-record is mixed.

"This supposed civilian power," it says, "is largely illusory".

The EU struggles to find civilians to staff its missions and the results of its interventions, the report says, are often paltry.

Part of the problem is a failure to make good on commitments.

But the EU's initial experience in the Balkans - what the study calls "the Bosnia Template" - has weighed heavily on subsequent operations.

The report argues that the EU should rethink its whole approach to foreign interventions with a focus on speed, security and self-sufficiency.

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