Factsheet – EU Engagement in Afganistan

~Factsheet~ [1] 


 AFG/02                                                                                                                February 2007

The European Union has a longstanding commitment to Afghanistan and its government. It is a key donor (EUR 3.7 billion over 5 years) and, working with international partners, plays a major role in stabilisation and reconstruction efforts. It is now preparing for a police mission under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).

Preparing for an ESDP mission

On 12 February 2007, the Council agreed on the principle of such a mission.  Confirming the EU’s strong long-term commitment to Afghanistan, it approved the Crisis Management Concept (CMC) for an ESDP mission to Afghanistan in the field of policing with linkages to the wider rule of law. A Concept of Operations for the mission is now being developed on this basis.

The Council agreed that the ESDP mission to Afghanistan would provide added-value. The mission will work towards an Afghan police force in local ownership, that respects human rights and operates within the framework of the rule of law.

The mission will build on current efforts, and follow a comprehensive and strategic approach, in line with the CMC. In doing so, the mission will address issues of police reform at central, regional and provincial level, as appropriate. Close coordination with partners will be ensured, and the International Police Coordination Board (IPCB) and its Secretariat should be a key mechanism for such cooperation.  As part of an overall and coordinated European approach, the EU special representative has an important role to play, also with regard to the ESDP mission.

The ESDP mission should comprise an element to assist coordination of contributions towards both equipment and rehabilitation of police infrastructure.

Particular attention will be paid to ensuring complementarity and mutual reinforcement with activities of the European Community, especially its proposed engagement with reform of the justice sector. This justice programme will aim to professionalise the judicial and public prosecution service e.g. through reforms to pay, grading and recruitment, as well as the establishment of a code of ethics. The programme could also assist in the development of a new national legal aid system and thus improve citizens’ access to justice. This work is being designed to dovetail with the ESDP mission.

A leading donor to Afghanistan with a concrete political and operational presence

Ш      EU assistance to Afghanistan

The EU (European Community and member states) has disbursed collectively EUR 3.7 billion in aid to Afghanistan over five years (2002-2006), i.e. one third of the aid pledged by the international community. At the London Conference in spring 2006, the European Community and member states pledged a further USD 2.4 billion (about EUR 2 billion) for reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan over the coming years.

Ш      A political partnership

The EU’s partnership with Afghanistan is highlighted in the joint political declaration signed on 16 November 2005 and is based on shared priorities such as the establishment of strong and accountable institutions, security and justice sector reform, counter-narcotics, development and reconstruction.

Ш      A presence in Afghanistan

The EU has had a Special Representative (EUSR) in Afghanistan since December 2001 (currently Francesc Vendrell since 2002). The EUSR is in close contact with key stakeholders in the Afghan political process and with international partners and advises the EU on its Afghanistan policy and on the implementation of its priorities for action

The European Commission has an office in Kabul since May 2002, notably to implement aid delivery. The European Commision Humanitarian Office ECHO is also present in Afghanistan. Its office in Kabul opened in January 2002.

A key partner in the reconstruction and stabilisation effort

Working with international partners, the EU is making a major contribution to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and stabilisation. The EU has spent about EUR 3.1 billion for reconstruction and development.

In agreement with the Afghan government and the donor community, EU member states and the European Commission have taken key co-ordination roles in crucial areas of assistance, including in security-related areas (the UK is key partner for counter-narcotics; Italy for judicial reform and training; Germany for police training). The European Commission is key partner for rural livelihoods (jointly with the World Bank) and health (jointly with the US). France has a co-ordination role with respect to the establishment of the Afghan parliament.

§         Reconstruction aid:

The reconstruction program managed by the European Commission is on track to meet the EC’s pledge of EUR 1 billion in reconstruction funding over the 2002-2006 period. It includes the key areas of rural development, alternative livelihoods and food security (EUR 236 million); economic infrastructure (EUR 106 million) – including reconstruction of the Kabul to Jalalabad road; public sector reform, including capacity building within government institutions and budget support via trust funds (EUR 393 million); the health sector – extending provision of a basic healthcare package (EUR 94 million); de-mining (EUR 66 million); human rights and civil society, including support for the media and social protection for the most vulnerable (EUR 21 million); promotion of regional cooperation, including on refugees and specific support to help smooth refugee returns (EUR 53 million).

§         Security:

23 EU member states are deploying troops to ISAF. Following stage 4 of the geographic expansion phase to the South (October 2006), their combined contribution to ISAF is approx. 15,800 troops.

EU member-state deployments to ISAF started in December 2001 and have increased steadily over time, from about 3,000 in 2002 to about 5,000 in 2003, 6,000 in 2004 and 10,000 in the second half of 2005 (including additional temporary deployments in conjunction with the elections). Several Member States have been expanding personnel and assets in 2006 and/or are planning to do so in 2007.

Separately, several member states are also contributing to the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom coalition conducting counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.

ISAF is currently led by the United Kingdom. Regional Commands are led by the UK (Capital), Italy (West), Germany (North), with the two remaining Regional Commands led by Canada and the US.

§         Rule of law:

Since 2002, the Community and a number of EU member states have been actively involved in the rule of law sector. Germany plays the role of key partner for the reconstruction of the Afghan Police. It has spent about EUR 70 million on police reform. So far it has trained 4,300 Afghan policemen in long term courses and 14,000 in short term courses. Italy is the key partner on justice sector reform on which it has spent some EUR 40 million.

Providing EUR 135 million in 2003-2006, the European Community is the largest contributor to the police trust fund LOTFA, which pays for salaries. The rule of law is critical for the success of counter-narcotics and other efforts.

§         Counter-narcotics

The EU has from the outset of the reconstruction process taken an active role in supporting counter-narcotics efforts, not least because 90% of heroin in Western Europe originates in Afghanistan, but also because the growth in corruption and illegality associated with the burgeoning opium economy poses a grave threat to the success of the entire reconstruction and stabilisation process.

The UK is the designated key partner for counter-narcotics. It assisted the Afghan government in drawing up the National Drugs Control Strategy in 2005. A counter-narcotics police, mobile detection units and a central eradication planning cell have been established. 

The UK, the EC and several EU member states are also actively involved in the field of rural development which is critical for the provision of sustainable alternative livelihoods for farmers involved in opium-poppy cultivation.

An important provider of humanitarian aid

In addition to its leading role in the reconstruction effort, the EU is a major source of humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the Afghan crisis both in Afghanistan and in neighboring Pakistan and Iran.

EU member states and the European Community are also actively involved in the provision of emergency and relief assistance. Total EU contributions for 2002-2006 amounted to EUR 627.5 million.


For more information go to:

EU High Representative website: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/solana

EUSR Vendrell: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/special representatives/vendrell

EU-Asia Relations: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/third countries/asia

EU-Afghanistan website: http://ec.europa.eu/comm/external_relations/afghanistan

EU-Afghanistan humanitarian aid website: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/field/afghanistan

[1] Contributions from the European Commission are gratefully acknowledged.