Category Archives: Minerva 2

EUFOR RCA Military Operation: An Opportunity lost for the deployment of a Battlegroup?

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On 1 April 2014, the European Union (EU) launched its first military operation (EUFOR RCA) in the Central Africa Republic (CAR). This decision reflects rising international concern over the increasingly volatile and violent situation in the CAR and the effects of the international community to protect the civilian population and restore security and public order in the country.[i]

EUFOR RCA represents the first time that the EU has deployed a military operation of this nature in six years. The last such operation was in 2008 when the EU sent ground forces to Chad. This is not to say that the EU has not launched military operations under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) since 2008, but rather that the nature of these operations have focused on training and capacity building operations. These operations have thus not consisted of the deployment of troops to assist with the provision of security on the ground.

 Under EUFOR RCA’s mandate, troops will seek to contribute to achieving a safe and secure environment in the Bangui area. In executing its mandate, EUFOR RCA is also expected to contribute to international efforts aimed at protecting the population most at risk and to creating the conditions for the provision of humanitarian aid. Once fully operational, it is expected that EUFOR RCA will include between 800 to 1,000 personnel, including approximately 120 military police. At this stage, the operation is expected to be in operation for six months, after which point it will transfer its activities to a UN peacekeeping force or to African partners. EU officials have also begun discussing the nature of the EU’s continued engagement in the CAR following the end of EUFOR RCA’s mandate. This includes the possible deployment of a follow up civilian mission and reinforced aid and development assistance.

For those of us who study the EU’s CSDP, what is interesting about the EU’s decision to establish EUFOR RCA is that the EU member states have once again decided against deploying one of its Battlegroups. Established in 2004 to provide the EU with the means to rapid respond to such crisis situations, whether at the request of the UN or independently, no Battlegroup has been deployed since it was declared operational in 2007. They are designed so that troops canbe deployed within 15 days notice and sustainable for at least 30 days (extendable to 120 days by rotation). They are expected to be flexible enough to undertake operations in distant crisis areas, under, but not exclusively, a UN mandate, and to conduct combat missions in an extremely hostile environment (mountain, jungle, desert etc.). They can be used for stand-alone operations, or to prepare the ground for larger, more traditional peacekeeping forces. In establishing the Battlegroups, the EU has showcased them as core tools at the EU’s disposal for its crisis management activities.

Although declared operational in 2007, the EU has neither deployed or tested the effectiveness of this CSDP rapid reaction mechanism. The non-deployment of the Battlegroups has in a large part been due to the lack of political will among member states to actually deploy these units rather than due to a lack of crisis situations in which to deploy them. In the current context, European security and military experts began drawing up plans for the deployment of a Battlegroup in December 2013 to assist France’s military operation (Operation Sangaris) but due to strong opposition from the UK, – the UK had troops committed to one of the two Battlegroups on stand-by in the second half of 2013 – the plan was not officially raised at the December European Council meeting. As a result, the Heads of State or Government of the EU member states were not placed in the position of having to discuss and vote on the issue.

The fact that the EU member states have not deployed a Battlegroup raises significant questions and illustrates key problems with the EU’s ability to act as a credible and effective crisis manager. The EU’s failure to utilize the Battlegroups illustrates that although the EU has developed an instrument to enable it to rapidly respond to crisis situations, if the political will to use this instrument is lacking, then its effectiveness, and added value potential becomes mute. In addition, the nature of the Battlegroup concept also renders deployment difficult. Aside from specifying that a Battlegroup must include the necessary support and strategic lift capabilities to allow its deployment within 15 days and be sustainable on the ground from 30 to 120 days, the actual composition of the Battlegroups remains flexible. In addition, the six-month rotation schedule of the Battlegroups is planned years in advance. Thus, Battlegroups on standby during a particular crisis may not represent the most appropriate formation for the type of operation that the conflict specifically requires.

By its very nature, the Battlegroup concept is faced with a number of obstacles to its operability and effectiveness as a crisis management tool. The usefulness of the Battlegroup is thus heavily reliant on there being an alignment between the specific crisis, and the composition of the Battlegroup on standby and the political will among EU member states to unanimously agree to its deployment. It should therefore not be surprising that the Battlegroups have remained paper commitments. Yet, the failure to deploy a Battlegroup has raised questions about its viability as a crisis management instrument and the reliability of the EU as a partner in crisis management for such organisations as the UN. It also raises questions as to the extent to which the EU and its member states have been able to recognise the problems with this crisis management tool and implement steps to re-dress these issues to make it a viable tool. As it stands, CAR marks another missed opportunity for the EU and its member states to showcase this specific crisis management tool.

[i] For a overview of the conflict in the Central African Republic see:

Amnesty International, Ethnic Cleansing and Sectarian Killings in the Central Africa Republic, 2014 <https://www.amnesty.org/en/news/central-african-republic-ethnic-cleansing-sectarian-violence-2014-02-12&gt;

BBC World News, ‘Central African Republic Profile’ <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13150040&gt;

International Crisis Group, ‘Central African Republic: Better Late Than Never’, Policy Briefing, Africa Briefing N. 96, Nairobi/Brussels, 2 December 2013, <http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/africa/central-africa/central-african-republic/b096-central-african-republic-better-late-than-never.aspx&gt;

 

Mum is the word – 2 of 3 personal reflections marking International Women’s Day

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The world is full of many well-known inspirational women but I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the contribution that a group of women closer to our own lives have made: our mothers.

To those mothers who have given their children the world by encouraging them to reach their potential regardless of their gender, race, disability or socio-economic background, they are the unsung inspirations for many people throughout the world, including me. These women, in their own small way and often unconsciously, have contributed to breaking down many of the socially constructed barriers for their children. Although the majority of these women would never describe themselves as feminists or social activists, they have each contributed to changing how we perceive our society and established dominant social norms by providing their children with a nurturing environment, the tenacity and opportunity to allow them to soar and achieve their potential and to instil in them the knowledge that dreams can become reality.

For those of us who have been fortunate enough to have such women in our lives, let’s take a moment on International Women’s Day and acknowledge all the sacrifices they made to allow us to be who we are and to be however small, the engines of social change in our societies.

Fortress Europe: Only if you can’t pay

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The financial crisis that has gripped much of the European Union (EU) since late 2008 has not deterred non-EU nationals from wanting to settle within its borders. Although the EU has sought to remove internal borders and allow for the free movement of people, good and services, the EU and its member states have also sought to fortify their external borders to stem the flow of people seeking entry into the EU. And yet, while the majority of people seeking entry into the EU face insurmountable obstacles, for those with the financial means, the path to residency and now even citizenship is much easier.

Known as ‘investor citizenship’, ‘citizenship by investment’ or ‘economic citizenship’, a number of states around the world facilitate naturalisation of wealthy individuals who invest in their economies. Within the EU, a number of member states such as the UK, Cyprus, Austria, Ireland, Belgium and Portugal, provide favourable avenues for residency for individuals who invest significant funds in their economies, whether it be through the investment of funds in an existing or new company or through investment in property. For example Belgium provides residency for investors who establish a new company with an office and employment opportunities within Belgium. In Portugal, the Golden Residence Permit for Investment provides residency statues to individuals who invest in Portugal either privately (purchasing of real estate with a minimum value of €500,000) or through a company (providing a minimum of €1 million in capital investment, or through the establishment of a Portuguese company which employs at least 10 people). Although these states provide favourable avenues for residency, investors are still required to comply with established residency and citizenship requirements before they can apply and be granted citizenship of their country of residence. One EU member state, Malta, has however now made the process for entry into the EU all the more accessible for those with the financial means.

In November 2013, Malta’s House of Representatives approved the Individual Investor Programme (IIP) bill, amending the country’s Citizenship Act to allow non-EU nationals to purchase Maltese citizenship through a one off payment of €650,000. This amendment would have allowed an individual the ability to purchase Maltese citizenship without any specific residency requirement restrictions.  An individual would neither have been required to settle in Malta for a period of time prior to purchasing his/her citizenship, nor would s/he have been required to remain in Malta for a period of time after the acquisition of Maltese citizenship.

The decision to sell Maltese citizenship without any residency stipulations was met with a chorus of opposition from within Malta and amongst fellow EU member states and the EU. Although national citizenship law remain the jurisdiction of individual EU member states, decisions of individual states have implications for all member states as national citizenship confers EU citizenship and the freedom of movement to live, and work in any EU member state. Thus, by purchasing Maltese citizenship, an individual would also acquire EU citizenship and all the rights associated with it. This would have given the individual the right to freely move and reside in any EU member state; vote for and stand as a candidate in the European Parliament and municipal elections; and be protected by diplomatic and consular authorities of any EU member state. Thus, under the original bill, an individual would have had access to all the rights of Maltese and EU citizenship without any of the responsibilities associated with citizenship to a specific country.  Under intense pressure from the European Commission, the Maltese government amended its plans in late January 2014 by introducing an obligatory 12 month residency requirement before Maltese citizenship can be conferred.

The decision of the Maltese government to offer Maltese citizenship for a price is unsettling and sets a precedent for other cash strapped EU member states to resort to using their citizenship as a commodity to be sold to raise revenue and pay off debts. Malta’s scheme will see individuals pay €650,000 for Maltese citizenship, with the option to add children, parents and grandparents for an additional €25,000 to €50,000. At present, Malta has indicated that the scheme will be capped at 1,800 main applicants, which at a minimum will net the country €1.17 billion. For a country struggling to meet its debt repayment, such a scheme might seem very attractive.

Malta’s actions also illustrate significant issues over the unity of purpose between EU member states. It has demonstrated the consequences of an EU member state making a national decision without consultation or consideration of the consequences on other EU member states. At a time when EU member states are continually placing national interests above greater European integration, the implications of Malta’s decision are far reaching.

The decision of Malta to sell its citizenship is also disconcerting when we look at the other spectrum of individuals seeking entry into the EU. For refugees and asylum seekers, Europe offers a haven for those seeking refugee from war, persecution and poverty. On an almost daily basis we hear of reports of boats overloaded with refugees from Africa taking the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. These individuals place themselves in the most perilous situation for the chance of a better life in Europe. They use whatever money they have, which is often their life savings (and/or those of their family) to pay people smugglers to take the journey to Europe. For them, the path to Europe is paved with sacrifice and for some even death. If lucky enough to reach one of the EU’s member states, the future for these refugees remains uncertain. They face the risk of deportation, years in detention camps or in shanty towns struggling to make ends meet. As EU member states wrangle over who should be responsible for dealing with the influx of refugees from Africa and the Middle East these individuals continue to face an uncertain future while the path for individuals with the means continue to become easier.

Although Malta has now instituted a twelve-month residency requirement, it is still worrying that individuals with the financial means are able to jump the queue by buying their way into the EU. Individuals who follow the established residency and citizenship path of each EU member state, who contribute to the day to day life of their society, who have invested themselves within their community are forced to wait and follow the established laws before applying for citizenship. At the other end of the spectrum, refugees and asylum seekers who risk their lives for a better future for themselves and their families find themselves treated as third class citizens and granted little human dignity in their bid for a chance at a better future. Founded “on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities”, the EU member states must to take a long and hard look at how they determine who is worthy of becoming a citizen. These values which are at the heart of the EU should be universally applied to all individuals seeking a home within the borders of the EU, regardless of their financial situation.