Knowledge for policy
Publication 11 April 2019

EU Conflict Early Warning System: Objectives, Process and Guidance for Implementation

Article  21(2)(c)  of  the  Treaty  on  European  Union  explicitly  names  conflict  prevention  as  one  of  the  EU's foreign policy goals. The 2011 Council conclusions on Conflict Prevention have elaborated this point and provide a strong mandate for the EU to engage in conflict prevention. In order to identify structural  risks  of  conflict  and  prevent  the  emergence,  re-emergence  or  escalation  of  violent  conflict,  early warning capabilities are indispensable.

In  its  conclusions,  the  Council  considers  that  conflict  early  warning  needs  to  be  further  strengthened  within  the  EU  and  that  output  from  all  sources,  including  from  Member  States,  should  be  better  integrated;  conflict  early  warning  should  draw  more  extensively  upon  field-based  information,  including from EU Delegations and civil society actors, in order to provide a more solid foundation for conflict  risk  analysis.  Enhancing  conflict  early  warning  will  also  enable  the  EU  to  work  more  effectively with partners on issues regarding the responsibility to protect and the protection of human rights.  Finally,  Council  conclusions  stress  that  more  emphasis  needs  to  be  put  on  early  action  to  mitigate the risks of outbreak and recurrence of conflicts.

In  follow-up  to  these  conclusions,  the  European  External  Action  Service  (EEAS)  and  Commission  services  have  put  in  place  the  EU  conflict  Early  Warning  System  (EWS)  as  part  of  their  broader  activities in the field of security policy. The procedures and methodology of the system were tested in two regional pilot studies in 2012 and 2013, before the system was rolled out in September 2014 for all non-EU countries.

The  EWS  is  a  key  component  of  the  EU's  Comprehensive  Approach  to  External  Conflict  and  Crises  (2013) and applies to the complex context of EU external action implemented by the EU and Member States.  This  Joint  Staff  Working  Document  is  a  deliverable  of  the  2015  Action  Plan  for  the  Comprehensive Approach.

The  purpose  of  this  Joint  Staff  Working  Document  is  to  serve  as  basis  for  the  inter-service  collaboration  for  the  functioning  of  the  EWS.  To  this  end,  this  document  describes  EWS  objectives  and scope, components and stakeholders.