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The EU as a stable partner in fragile states

Denmark will:

  • Work to ensure that the EU increases its engagement in fragile states, based on the principles in the “New Deal” regarding more effective, joined up, tailor-made and locally rooted initiatives.
  • Work to ensure a better exploitation of the synergies and the complementarities between development policy and the EU’s work with stability and security, including a reduction of the silo mentality within the EU – both in Brussels and in the EU Delegations.
  • Promote EU coordination and cooperation regarding efforts in fragile states and bearing in mind that the EU is involved in a broader international engagement.
  • Promote the EU’s cooperation with other development partners in fragile states, especially local civil society actors and the private sector.

Stability and security are preconditions for development, combating poverty and promoting human rights. In 2025, 80 per cent of the poorest people in the world are expected to be living in fragile states or conflict-affected areas.

Therefore, Denmark has increased its focus on efforts targeting conflict prevention, state and peace-building and building resilience. Furthermore, development assistance to fragile states and conflict-affected priority countries has increased. The framework conditions for the work in fragile situations are significantly different from those in traditional development cooperation. Efforts in fragile states require comprehensive and coherent approaches and the simultaneous use of foreign policy, development and humanitarian instruments. Such initiatives require flexibility, speed and a willingness to take risks, but they also require a capacity to understand complex situations and the ability to act under difficult conditions.

The EU's work on fragile states

Fragile states is an important priority in Agenda for Change, and to a greater extent than previously emphasis is placed on tackling instability, fragility and vulnerability through the EU’s development cooperation. The increased political ambition in this area implies that the EU will increase its engagement and cooperation with countries in fragile, vulnerable or post-conflict situations. The EU can play a special role in fragile states, for example, through the European External Action Service (EEAS), which possesses the potential for integrating the broad spectrum of instruments from crisis management and stabilisation, development, diplomacy to economic cooperation. Many conflicts and fragile situations are transboundary, and with its global presence, the EU has a clear advantage and can develop integrated regional strategies and approaches. The EU has the necessary political and financial weight to act in these situations, and the Member States can share the risk and burden through integrated and multidimensional efforts.

However, the EU continues to lack a coherent strategy for comprehensive initiatives that gather all operators across the different EU institutions. Today, responsibility for the EU’s efforts in fragile and post-conflict countries is fragmented, which makes effective, systematic and long-term approaches difficult. Similarly, the lack of coherence between the EU’s financing instruments has led to gaps in the financing of conflict prevention and post-conflict activities and in the transition from humanitarian aid to long-term development efforts. There are though successful examples of comprehensive regional strategies where humanitarian, development, and policy and security instruments have been coordinated and common goals have been set. One example of this is the Strategic Framework for the Sahel Region, which was adopted in September 2011.

Denmark's priorities and approaches

Denmark has a strong interest in ensuring that the EU strengthens the coordination and integration of all relevant policies in the foreign policy and development areas – both at the political and the operational level. Better results and increased efficiency will be obtained when the effects of synergies and comprehensive approaches are exploited. And it will also increase the EU and its Member States’ collective political impact and leverage. Approaches and principles from development policy must be integrated to a greater degree into the EU’s external activities. Denmark will seek to break down the silo mentality that has characterised the EU’s development cooperation to a great extent and will promote a more joint strategic approach, more well-defined division of roles and responsibilities, and more streamlined procedures in the EU’s institutions. The integrated and comprehensive approaches should always respect development policy and humanitarian objectives and principles.

In fragile and conflict-affected countries where Denmark is not present, engagement and approaches can be influenced through the EU, while in the Danish priority countries closer EU coordination and cooperation regarding joint diplomacy, financing and programming will be pursued. The EU’s coordinating role in fragile states requires that the Member States exhibit a high degree of willingness to be coordinated. Especially in this context, there may be a strong tendency to let narrow regards for national profiles dictate the Member States’ positions. Denmark will demonstrate a strong willingness to cooperate with and enter into coordinated efforts led by the EU. This will especially apply in countries where the Danish presence and resources are limited, but also in other countries where the EU Delegation has the necessary capacity and competence to assume leadership.

Denmark will assess the possibilities for the additional decentralisation of decision making competencies from Brussels to the EU Delegations, including the flexible use of resources at the country level. The EU and its Member States must act more collectively, define common objectives and strategies as well as build on each other’s competencies at the country level. This requires openness both in Brussels and from the EU Delegations, but also among the Member States.

Coordination with the external partners must also be strengthened, including with multilateral institutions, regional organisations, bilateral development partners, the private sector and civil society actors that operate in fragile states. The EU must be better at exploiting its comparative advantages in relation to the actors limited by a lack of capacity, financial strength or mandate to enter into political or security-related activities.

Denmark will work actively to ensure that the EU does not establish parallel structures, but instead supports existing coordination mechanisms and international processes. This applies, for example, to the International Dialogue for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding and to the global agreement, the New Deal, which aims at ensuring that the international engagement in fragile and conflict-affected countries becomes more effective and builds on local ownership.
Denmark will work to ensure that the EU supports and strengthens the dialogue with local civil society organisations in fragile states.

There must be an increased use of the EU’s development funds in fragile and conflict-affected countries. This will allow better opportunities for adapting efforts carried out under unpredictable and difficult conditions. This also implies that the EU’s financing instruments must support the transition from emergency aid and post-conflict situations to long-term development work in better and more systematic ways.

Denmark also supports the EU’s work with developing and utilising budget support-like modalities in fragile states, the so-called state-building contracts. They can contribute to stabilising and rebuilding basic state functions through the financing of such as basic public social services. However, they also carry risks, which is why it will be important to develop methods for careful monitoring as well to be realistic in terms of assessing goals and results. Denmark will focus on ensuring that the EU supports fragile states in building social safety nets and other forms of social protection coordinated with existing efforts within humanitarian aid and development cooperation.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
Asiatisk Plads 2 
DK-1448 Copenhagen K
Tel. +45 33 92 00 00
Fax +45 32 54 05 33
[email protected]



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