The European Union should be able to funnel aid to militaries in fragile partner countries, the bloc's executive proposed Tuesday, in a move expected to benefit African nations in particular.

"We all face common challenges of terrorism, conflicts and extremism. We must empower our partners to tackle their own security, governance and stability," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

But the proposal met with criticism out of Germany, with parliamentarians expressing concern about the use of development funds for military purposes and about the risk of training security forces that could in future take repressive actions.

"The existing means for development policies and thus for the creation of prospects for people in their home countries ... are already now very lean," said Sabine Weiss of the Christian Democrats. "The European Commission has to find other solutions."

The commission proposed to extend one of its crisis-management funds, the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), so that it can "provide more effective assistance to security sector actors, including military actors under exceptional circumstances."

The aid could for instance be used to fund training, non-lethal equipment and infrastructure improvements, the Brussels institution said. Its plan foresees the IcSP receiving an extra 100 million euros (111 million dollars) through 2020 for this purpose.

But the plan will have to be approved by EU member states and the European Parliament to come into effect.

The EU's current budget structures do not foresee comprehensive financing for military capacity building. The bloc offers training missions, but cannot provide equipment.

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