Conflict prevention has formed an integral part of the European Union’s (EU’s) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) since the early 2000s, with investments in civilian peacebuilding and conflict prevention competences suiting well with the Union’s ‘civilian’ or ‘normative’ power role. The transforming international order is, however, changing the strategic environment also for the Union’s and its Member States’ conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts. This article analyses the implications of the evolving strategic autonomy debate for the EU’s role conception and concrete action in the realm of conflict prevention. While the search for a more capable EU in security and defence does not automatically counter the Union’s selfconception as a conflict preventor and peacebuilder, it does appear to introduce meaningful shifts in the core objectives and values guiding its external action in conflict situations. An analysis of the EU’s rhetoric and concrete uses of its institutional conflict prevention and peacebuilding tools in recent years in Africa suggests a growing centralization of security and geopolitical considerations at the expense of the core ethos of conflict prevention.