Central Southern AfricaMissions Operations

EUFOR RCA mired in a budgetary drama (UPDATE)

The Marsouins of the 8th RPima at Bossembelé (credit: French Ministry of Defense / DICOD)
The Marsouins of the 8th RPima at Bossembelé (credit: French Ministry of Defense / DICOD)

(BRUSSELS2) On December 20, the “28” Heads of State and Government gave the order to “move quickly”, to respond quickly with a military peacekeeping operation to the worsening crisis in Central African Republic. Where are we today?

We are progressing…but slowly

A first decision was thus adopted on January 20 (the force generation concept for EUFOR RCA), a second on February 10 (the framework decision). Almost two months after the European Council's decision, we have not yet deployed forces on the ground. There are still at least two final steps to take: the adoption of the operation plan (OpPlan), and the launch decision before seeing the forces on the ground. Without forgetting the generation of forces which must take place without hitches and respect for parliamentary consultations or authorizations in each country.

A loss of ambition

The “Chefs” impulse seems to have lost its power. Result: the operation will not be deployed before the beginning of March (if all goes well!). And what we call Full Operational Capability – in other words all the forces present on the ground – will not be achieved before the end of May (3 months of deployment are planned). That is more than six months, after the first plans (refused). On a European scale, it is rather rapid, compared to certain missions which took almost a year to emerge. In the closed diplomatic working rooms, this can therefore be reassuring. In the field, this pseudo-speed might not be judged as efficient. Especially since it is accompanied by a stunting of ambitions: instead of 1000 men, it will be 500; instead of deploying in Bangui as in the West (where certain abuses occur), it will only be in Bangui or to accompany certain humanitarian convoys. And on the common budget side, it's rather miserable (contrary to what François Hollande had committed to).

A fiscal treachery

The originally planned budget was nearly 40 million euros. A pittance compared to what is being undertaken elsewhere at the level of the European Union. It was, over the course of the meetings, ratified, and finally reduced to less than 26 million euros. No more taking charge of the reimbursement of strategic transport (Europe-RCA) by the common budget. Too expensive... Several countries - starting with the “dear” British allies (*) and other countries, stingy, concerned about their small economies (Austria for example) - have considered - for excellent procedural reasons - that it was better to remain modest. Just last Tuesday, during a difficult meeting of budgetary experts, they again refused to add 3,7 million euros to the pot… to build barracks for the military. Too expensive again!

Comment: Between being present quickly, doing the job, and the sacrosanct procedures, some Europeans seem to have chosen: it will be “the procedures”! and too bad for a few hundred more deaths... As Victoria would have said, f ... !

(*) Updated. British people who did not hesitate to play a double game. In London, to the deputies of the House of Commons, the minister responsible for European issues, David Lidington affirmed, again, that the operation would have a budget of 40 million euros thus allowing it to advance a British contribution of 5,8 million euros. At the same time, its representative in Brussels defended a lower budget, in fact a national contribution of 3,8 million euros. Sacred drop

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).