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.