March 2024 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 February 2024
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EU-UN Cooperation

Expected Council Action

In March, the Security Council will hold its annual meeting on strengthening EU-UN cooperation under the agenda item “Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security”. Josep Borrell Fontelles, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is expected to brief.

Background and Key Recent Developments

Strengthening cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations—as envisioned in Chapter VIII of the UN Charter—has become an increasingly prominent theme for the Security Council. The Council has maintained the practice of holding annual briefings on cooperation between the EU and the UN since 2010, although these briefings were not held in 2012 and 2018. Since 2013, Council members have also held annual informal meetings with members of the EU Political and Security Committee. In 2014, the Council adopted a presidential statement welcoming the EU’s cooperation with the UN and its contributions towards the maintenance of international peace and security and its involvement in international negotiations and mediation processes.

Council briefings on EU-UN cooperation have generally addressed areas of common concern between the two organisations, focusing on the EU’s main foreign policy priorities and objectives and addressing current crises that overlap on the EU and Security Council agendas. This year, the war in Ukraine and the crisis in the Middle East, triggered by the 7 October 2023 attack on Israel by the Palestinian armed group Hamas, are expected to be a central focus of Borrell’s briefing.

Two years into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the EU remains firmly committed to supporting Ukraine. On 1 February, the European Council agreed to provide Ukraine with up to 50 billion euros in grants and loans until 2027. The financial aid package is considered crucial for supporting Ukraine’s economy, providing predictable financing to help cover the cost of salaries, pensions, and public services. On 23 February, the EU adopted its 13th package of sanctions against Russia. Furthermore, in December 2023, the European Council decided to open EU accession negotiations with Ukraine.

Concerning the situation in Gaza, the EU has allocated an initial 125 million euros for humanitarian aid in 2024. Additionally, since 7 October 2023, EU member states have collectively contributed over 600 million euros in financial support to the occupied Palestinian territories. The EU and its member states are the largest donors to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Following allegations claiming links between some UNRWA staff members and the terror attacks of 7 October in Israel, however, some EU member states suspended their financial contributions to the agency. In a 4 February blog post, Borrell insisted that “defunding UNRWA would be both disproportionate and dangerous”.

In addition to the contribution of troops and police from EU member states to UN peacekeeping missions, the EU fields its own missions through the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), some of which are mandated by the Security Council. The EU currently deploys around 4,000 personnel across 12 civilian missions and nine military operations. The EU has established several missions and operations since the Council’s last briefing on EU-UN cooperation in February 2023.

In Europe, the EU Mission in Armenia (EUMA) was deployed on 20 February 2023 as a civilian mission with a two-year mandate. EUMA is responsible for observing and reporting on the situation on the ground, contributing to human security in conflict-affected areas, and building confidence between Armenia and Azerbaijan. On 24 April 2023, the EU Partnership Mission in the Republic of Moldova (EUPM Moldova) was launched to enhance the resilience of the security sector in the country.

In Africa, the EU Military Partnership Mission (EUMPM) in Niger was launched in February 2023 to enhance the ability of the Niger Armed Forces to contain terrorist threats. According to media reports, Niger’s military administration—which assumed power after a coup d’état in July 2023 that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum—announced in December 2023 that it was withdrawing from EUMPM in Niger and revoking the 2012 EU capacity-building civilian mission EUCAP Sahel Niger, which was established to strengthen the country’s internal security forces. In an 18 December blog post, Borrell described the move as a “hostile signal”, cautioning that “history shows that expelling partner supporting efforts to improve security in Sahel results only in leaving more room for terrorism and insecurity”.

In the post, Borrell also described the challenges facing EU missions in countries such as Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR) because of the region’s shifting geopolitical configuration. He noted “a backdrop of increasing destabilization in the region, encouraged by foreign actors hostile to Europe”, an indirect reference to Russia’s expanding influence in the region. Nevertheless, Borrell stressed that many African countries are willing to work with the EU on security issues. In December 2023, the EU Security and Defence Initiative in support of West African countries of the Gulf of Guinea (EU SDI GoG) was established in partnership with Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin to complement the EU’s ongoing support for maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

More recently, in the Middle East, the EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) Operation ASPIDES was launched on 19 February in response to the repeated Houthi attacks on maritime shipping in the Red Sea since October 2023. The aim of ASPIDES is to restore and safeguard the freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2722, which took note of the right of member states, in accordance with international law, to defend their vessels from attacks, including those that undermine navigational rights and freedoms.

The EU has been a major financial partner of the AU in supporting AU Peace Support Operations (AUPSOs). It welcomed the adoption on 21 December 2023 of Security Council resolution 2719 on using assessed contributions to support specific AUPSOs, which was co-sponsored by many EU member states. The EU is expected to play a critical role in supporting the AU to cover the 25 percent of costs that will not be financed by UN assessed contributions.

Collectively, the EU and its member states are the largest financial contributors to the UN system. EU member states provide approximately one third of the UN regular budget, one quarter of the UN peacekeeping budget, and one quarter of all financial contributions to the UN’s agencies, funds, and programmes.

Council Dynamics

Under Article 34 of the Treaty of the European Union, EU member states on the Security Council are to “defend the positions and the interests of the EU”. Currently, three Council members—France, Malta, and Slovenia—are EU members. The UK, which has not been a member of the EU since 31 January 2020, has occasionally joined EU members in making joint statements.

The relationship between the EU and Russia deteriorated precipitously following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At the June 2022 briefing on EU-UN cooperation, Russia described its relations with the EU as having reached a level “tunneling below rock bottom”. At the latest briefing in February 2023, Russia remarked that there was “an abyss below that rock bottom,” adding that its relations with the EU “essentially no longer exist”.

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Security Council Press Statements
14 February 2014S/PRST/2014/4 This was a presidential statement on cooperation between the UN and the EU, highlighting the EU’s comprehensive approach to maintenance of international peace and security.
Security Council Meeting Records
23 February 2023S/PV.9268 This was the annual meeting on strengthening EU-UN cooperation.

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