Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans (Wales) has called for the establishment of a European Peace Corps.
The President of the European Parliament's European Free Alliance Group, and Vice President of the Greens/EFA Group made the call in a key debate in the Strasbourg parliament today.
MEPs were discussing the next summit of European leaders, to be held in Brussels on 19 and 20 December. One key topic will be the development of a European security and defence policy.
But Jill Evans warned that an effective security policy has to be integrated with anti-poverty and environmental policies. The MEP called for a refocus on building peace, and proposed the establishment of a Civilian Peace Corps, made up not of soldiers but of doctors, engineers, mediators – people with the skills to strengthen trust and break down barriers.
Speaking in the European Parliament, Jill Evans said:
"If we are to make Europe work we must show it has a clear future role, including internationally.
"The EU could be a real force for peace if we address all the threats facing people. An effective security policy has to be integrated with policies on poverty, the environment, energy, trade, food and water resources and so on. We must re-focus on building peace.
"What better way to do that than to enhance not military but civilian work - a Civilian Peace Corps to defuse tension, foster understanding and prevent conflict, working with the United Nations.
"Now is the time to invest not in arms but in people, especially young people, to create jobs, to recover and rebuild and enable all the peoples, all the nations of Europe, like Wales, Flanders, Scotland, the Basque Country, to play their full part in doing that."