EUROPEAN FOREIGN POLICY SCORECARD 2016

Peacekeeping

8 - Afghanistan

Grade: C
Unity 2/5
Resources 2/5
Strategy 2/5
Impact 2/5
Total 8/20
Scorecard 2012: C+ (10/20)
Scorecard 2013: B- (11/20)
Scorecard 2014: C+ (9/20)
Scorecard 2015: C+ (10/20)

Security is deteriorating, but Europe’s role is marginal and policymakers want to move on

The Taliban made significant military advances in 2015, inflicting severe casualties on the Afghan army and police, and briefly capturing the northern city of Kunduz.

This forced US President Barack Obama to delay plans for a military withdrawal. A number of European governments still have personnel in the country as part of a NATO mission to train local security forces (with Germany, Italy, and Romania the leading troop contributors, after the US), but Europe’s political role in Afghan affairs is now marginal. Other actors, including China and Qatar, are increasingly involved in efforts to mediate. Pakistan convened talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in July, with China and the US as observers, but no Europeans were involved.

The EU maintains a police training mission in Afghanistan. With nearly 200 international staff in the field in mid-2015, this remains a significant commitment under the CSDP, but is gradually approaching completion. The mission is set to operate until the end of 2016, but reduced its role at the end of 2015, focusing on “strategic advice” to the Afghan police for its final year. The Afghan police have made significant progress in recent years (though this also reflects NATO training and bilateral programmes), but it is not clear that either the police or army will be able to hold up if the Taliban maintains its military pressure.

Afghanistan’s continuing instability has been brought home to European, especially German, policymakers by the large numbers of Afghan citizens seeking asylum in Europe. They represent the second-largest group after Syrians, but have encountered an especially high level of scepticism. Germany, for example, has said that it does not view Afghans as valid refugees (with some exceptions such as those who worked for NATO) given their home country’s relative stability. This unrealistic reading points to a broader desire among European policymakers to put Afghanistan behind them, but it is far from truly secure.