14 November, 2006

The EU and Afghan reconstruction

At a meeting of the European Foreign ministers, the British and Dutch asked the EU to contribute more to building up Afghanistan's police and judiciary. This seems to be a follow up from an earlier request by NATO for the EU to make a greater contribution to the civilian reconstruction of Afghanistan. The response has been sadly predictable.

According to the International Herald Tribune, the French were lukewarm and would agree only to a (yet another) fact finding mission.

"It seems to me that before launching into such an operation, it would be a good idea to be a bit more clear and to not do something is not coherent or logical," said French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie. "That is why I gave my agreement to a fact-finding mission and that's all for the moment."
Translation: France will evaluate the possibility of trade deals and will join in only if it is both safe and potentially profitable.

Online - Pakistan summarises the EU's contribution to Afghanistan reconstruction to date, and provides a candidate for amazing comment of the week:
...a European Commission spokeswoman brushed aside the criticism, from NATO, saying the commission had a record it could be ’very proud of’ in Afghanistan.

'We made a pledge back in 2002 to spend one billion euros (1.3 billion dollars) over five years. We have overshot that target in the work that we have done in Afghanistan,’ said Emma Udwin, spokeswoman for external affairs.

’We have spent very substantial amounts of money given our overall budget and we have been very effective in making that money work in the interests of the population,’ she said.
That record would seem to be a number of fact finding missions, some ineffective Afghan police training by Germany and, from Italy, even less effective reform of the Afghan judiciary. Neither is the financial contribution all that impressive. The total EU budget is somewhere in the region of just over 100bn euros a year.

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