The European Union launched a 10.5-billion euro ($12.4-billion) "peace facility" to buy military equipment and conduct peace-keeping operations in Africa and elsewhere in the world.
The EU plans to pay for military equipment, including lethal weaponry, for partner countries in crisis zones such as Africa's Sahel region.
The new EPF is being kept separate from the main EU budget to deal with the rules against funding military projects.
The EU’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said, the EPF, which needs approval by the bloc’s entire member countries would help stabilise restive nations like Mali, Somalia and Central African Republic.
"The world is living in difficult times and this calls for a European Union responsibility and role on the global scene," Mogherini said.
The proposal, made by the European Commission, the bloc's powerful executive arm, would see partner countries given "comprehensive support", which officials said could include weapons. Decisions about what to spend EPF money on would be taken by member states themselves, through the European Council.