[A-List] EU integration struggles: military
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Mon Dec 16 06:43:10 MST 2002
EU military operations could start within weeks
By Stephen Castle in Copenhagen
The Independent, 16 December 2002
The European Union will start its first military operations within "weeks",
the French President, Jacques Chirac, said this weekend, after two years of
deadlock over EU relations with Nato were finally broken.
Mr Chirac said at the end of the European summit in Copenhagen that the EU
could start work "immediately" on taking over peace-keeping duties in
Macedonia. "It's not a complicated operation," he said, "it can be done
quickly in the weeks that follow."
Europe is due to have its 60,000-strong rapid reaction force capable of
peace-keeping and crisis management operations up and running in 2003, but
the project has been stalled amid diplomatic wrangling.
The deal between the EU and Nato clinched at Copenhagen gives the embryonic
European force guaranteed access to the planning resources of the
transatlantic military alliance.
This type of agreement had been held up since 2000 by Turkey, which is a big
player in Nato, and which feared that the EU force might be used against its
At Copenhagen, those concerns were allayed when Ankara won a pledge that EU
crisis management operations would be open only to EU states that are Nato
allies or partners - thereby excluding Malta and the divided island of
That rules out the possibility of the EU rapid reaction force being deployed
in support of the ethnic Greek government of Cyprus, one of 10 candidates
which will be admitted to the EU in 2004.
EU leaders also decided that talks on Ankara joining the EU should start
"without delay" if it passes a human rights review in December 2004.
The removal of Turkey's long-standing veto will bring about an exchange of
letters between the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and the Nato
secretary general, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, leading to a ceremony this
Yves Brodeur, Nato's chief spokesman, said: "EU access to Nato planning
capabilities able to contribute to military planning for EU-led operations
is now assured, effective immediately." While the deal is good news for
architects of the EU's planned rapid reaction force, sceptics say that the
hard work is only just starting. Under pressure to control their budgets,
European capitals have been unwilling to invest in the cash needed to bring
the EU's military plans up to scratch.
Meanwhile strains have been growing between the EU's two biggest military
powers, the UK and France, which signed the accord that gave birth to the
EU's military project in 1998.
Britain, determined to link the EU's force within a Nato structure, had
insisted that no military operations could take place before a deal that
tied it up with the transatlantic alliance. Frustrated by the lack of
progress, the French have recently courted Germany, agreeing a joint paper
with Berlin on defence co-operation.
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