Time and time again, research into the EU's peace-building activities worldwide has shown that the EU has formidable instruments to build peace – it just tends not to use them effectively.
As your article on a possible future European Institute of Peace reported (“Peace plan to be unveiled”, 27 September-3 October), there is a common sense that the European External Action Service (EEAS) needs support. This is particularly true for its new division tasked with peace-building and mediation. But is adding another layer of bureaucracy at the EU level the most effective way to do this?
The EU can engage in all types of peace-making processes from the highest political level down to supporting community-based initiatives, and much in between. The problem is not a lack of tools, but fragmentation of resources across units and institutions. Adding another organisation to the mix is likely to cause more, not less, confusion.
As well as its own tools, the EU can draw on a unique range of expert NGOs, think-tanks and academics with strong reputations for contributing to peace in different ways. Let us hope that the study reflects creative ideas for harnessing this experience and so strengthening the EEAS. Yet another agency would surely add bureaucracy and management costs, undermining both the EEAS and existing practitioners, and so weakening the EU's potential as a global peace-builder.
Cost may not be the determining factor in setting up a European Institute of Peace – but potential effectiveness should be.