Volume 21 (2016) / Issue 1
In April 2014, the European Union (EU) launched EUFOR RCA, a military bridging operation that provided temporary support to the United Nations (UN) in achieving a safe and secure environment in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), until March 2015. After EUFOR’s mandate concluded, the union launched a follow up military advisory mission, EUMAM RCA, to improve the CAR armed forces’ capacities and solidify EUFOR’s achievements. However, the deployment processes of both EUFOR and EUMAM were characterized by a paradox: on the one hand, their planning processes were quick and effective; on the other hand, their force generation processes were prolonged and difficult. What explains this paradox? This article argues that, in the case of both missions, there was a mismatch between EU Member States’ desire to act and their willingness to invest resources in those actions, that is, an intentions-reality gap. Due to the CAR’s humanitarian emergency and France’s appeal for burden-sharing, a sense of ‘collective obligation’ drove EU Member States to approve the deployment of EUFOR and EUMAM politically. However, since most Member States had no direct interests at stake in the CAR, they felt no equal sense of obligation to contribute to these efforts.
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