The European Union, EU, said on Friday that 20.4million euro would be used to support ECOWAS as intervention fund to prevent and manage conflicts and security threats in West Africa.
Mr Kurt Cornelis, the Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said this at the official launch of ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture and Operations, EPSAO, project in Abuja.
He said that the support was to strengthen ECOWAS mechanisms to promote and maintain peace, stability and post crisis operations.
“The EU and ECOWAS have over the years embarked on joint efforts through strong cooperation to combat these challenges as there is no development without security and no security without development.
“The Peace Security and Development is of common interest and our common and individual future is linked to the progress we make together, particularly progress in addressing root causes, symptoms and effects.
“To this end and following its predecessor under the 10th European Development Fund PSS programme, the EU continues its support to ECOWAS through this Peace and Security Architecture and Operations project which we are here to launch today.
“This is a 20.4 million euro programme co-financed by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ, with the full ownership of ECOWAS.“
Mr Cornelis, however, said that EU had always supported African Union programmes, re-affirming support for ECOWAS abilities to address threats to regional peace, stability and security in the framework.
Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, the President of ECOWAS Commission, said that the EPSAO project was aimed at contributing to the prevention and management of conflicts and security threats in West Africa.
Mr Kassi Brou, who was represented by General Francis Behanzin, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security ECOWAS, said it would be through interventions toward achieving the following three strategic objectives.
“Strengthen of ECOWAS’s mechanisms to promote and maintain peace and stability; Enable ECOWAS to manage erupting or existing conflicts; and Contribute to the creation of a secure and safe post conflict environment.
“This important project that we are launching today is the result of our standing partnership with the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany.
“Indeed, EPSAO is funded by the EU under the Regional Indicative Programme /11th European Development Fund for the tune of 16.4 millions euros for a period of 4 years,” he said.
Mr Kassi Brou said that the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ, of Germany was co-financing the project with additional four millions euros.
He said that it was also committed to contributing additional financial resources to ensure that support would be provided to ECOWAS in the area of electoral observer missions.
Mr Kassi Brou said that the European Union and ECOWAS had jointly agreed for the German Cooperation Agency, GIZ, to be the implementing partner of the EPSAO project “building on the long-standing fruitful cooperation we have with GIZ.”
He said that the political and security environment in the region remained fragile due to the persistence of some structural factors that represented a challenge for the stability of member states and route causes of conflicts in our region.
Mr Kassi Brou said that these factors included the perceived “winner-takes all” form of the political victory, the insufficient accountability of leaders, lack of transparency in regimes, inadequate checks and balances, the lack of trust among political parties.
“It is my expectation that a successful implementation of EPSAO will contribute in providing ECOWAS with the capacities to address some of the above listed challenges in order to better prevent, mitigate and manage conflicts when the erupt.
“In this regard, I have no doubt that ECOWAS, EU and the Federal Government of Germany will mobilise all the political, technical and human resources towards achieving the objectives of EPSAO.’’ he said.
Mr Kassi Brou expressed strong optimism on the successful implementation of this important project, having handed-over its management to the “German rigor”.
He assured members that the partnership witnessed was being expanded by the current management of the commission to ensure that necessary resources were mobilised to achieve the goals of a secured and peaceful ECOWAS region.