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Observatory on European defence, April 2008


2-4 April 2008
NATO Summit - Afghanistan, Capacity

The heads of State and Government of the 26 allies, the partners and the representatives of the major international organisations met in Bucharest for a summit largely dedicated to enlargement and partnerships, NATO operations (Kosovo and Afghanistan) and capacities.
Afghanistan continues to be NATO's most central commitment. In the final statement of the summit, progress was recognized, while the need for further efforts was underlined in a strategic vision for the ISAF mission based on four main lines: firm and mutual long-term involvement, support for improved Afghani leadership and responsibilities (including operational ones: by 2010 about 80,000 officers of the local army are to be trained and equipped), a global approach for the international community (both civil and military) and greater involvement and collaboration with neighbouring countries (in particular Pakistan: the first center for coordination and exchange of intelligence between NATO, Pakistani and Afghani authorities in order to fight terrorism was opened in Afghanistan close to the Pakistani border).
Also discussed were the topic of capacity-building was and the need for available forces, to make up for the specific shortcomings in strategic and theatre (helicopter) transportation, taking into consideration multinational logistic solutions.

18 April 2008 
Council JHA- Countering international terrorism

Ministers adopted direct and indirect measures to fight international terrorism.
In the framework of the anti-terrorism package brought in by the Commission in November 2007, an action plan for the activation of an Early Warning System on Explosives (EWS) has been adopted that will link EUROPOL and public security officials of member countries mainly to monitor the theft of precursors, explosives and detonators. The initiative fosters an exchange of information and the diffusion of best practices in this domain. For example, in the issue of traceability, the Commission adopted a directive aimed at improving the traceability of explosives for civil purposes on 4 April.
Ministers approved the guidelines for a bill to modify the frame-decision of the Commission (November 2007) on the fight against terrorism. Three new crimes are proposed: recruitment, training (included training through the Internet), and publicly encouraging the perpetration of acts of terrorism. Definition of the latter provoked perplexity in the European Parliament, which will have to express its opinion before the decision of the Council in July.
As underlined by the EU anti-terrorism coordinator, de Kerckhove, countering the threat of terrorism involves our borders as well. Border control and the linkage between racketeering, illegal immigration and terrorism represent two important issues at the EU level: from the 7th to the 11th of April the first training courses for land borders were carried out by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at External Borders (FRONTEX). The training, which involved 10 km of borders between Croatia and Slovenia, was carried out by members of the flying squad (Rapid Border Intervention Teams, RABIT) from 20 EU countries.
Ministers expanded EUROPOL powers in order to give it the status of a community agency as of the 1st of January 2010 with greater authority and capabilities in the domain of trans-border crime. The amendments to the convention which created EUROPOL in 1995 will be definitively decided upon and ratified for substitution by 30 June 2008, after receiving the positive opinion of the European Parliament.
Some statistics published on 7 April by EUROPOL show that crimes and attempted crimes in the EU increased by 24% with respect to 2006 (for a total of 583,of which 517 linked to separatists in France and Spain) and arrests related to terrorist activities increased by 48% with respect to the previous year (1044 in 2007). The majority of people arrested are EU citizens. As for the crimes of exportation of conflict, the most come from North Africa and are directly linked to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. New zones, such as Somalia and Pakistan, have turned out to be critical. In particular, Pakistan seems to host a training center frequented by European citizens later involved in terrorist activities in Europe.

April 2008
EU Capacity - Galileo, EU

On the 7th of April, Ministers of the Transport Council reached a political agreement on a proposal for regulation of the continuation (until 2013) of the European programs of satellite navigation, Galileo and EGNOS. The proposal provides for the creation of an informal interministerial committee (Galileo Inter-institutional Panel, GIP) for representatives of the European Parliament, Council and Commission for management of the program, for which the Commission alone is responsible. Political control is assigned directly to the Council and the Parliament, assisted by the GIP, and the role of the monitoring authority and the European Space Agency is redefined.
On 23 April, this proposal was approved by the European Parliament.
On 27April, the second satellite of the Galileo system (Giove-B) reached its orbit.
On 7 April, the Transport Council adopted a decision amending the legal basis (2001) for the creation of the EU Military Staff to provide it with the capacity to manage strategic planning for EU-led operations.

April 2008
EU Capacity - European Defence Agency, European defence market

On 8 April, the Steering Committee of the European Defence Agency (EDA) met at the RT director level to evaluate the progress made in the program of joint investment on the protection of forces set up in November 2007. The results for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were judged positively, while further efforts have to be made in integration and coordination, standardization and harmonization, with high priority for R&T in high tech areas. Strategies ad projects will be announced in May, when the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 26 EDA member states approve a list of projects for a total of 250 million Euro.
On 9 April, national armaments directors asked the EDA to present, by November 2008, a strategy for cooperation programs in the field of armaments (acquisition and research), with an eye to future military needs, standardization and cooperation, and the sharing of the rising costs of development and the purchase of high-tech equipment. A report on the functioning of the voluntary and not binding Code of Conduct in public contracts in the defence sector showed that it is contributing to the diffusion of a new form of competition in the European military market. In force as of July 2006, it covers the contracts that, for their strategic importance, fall into the category exonerated in art. 296 of the Treaty Establishing the European Community from the regulations of the common market, establishing a systematic informative report for the partners - through the EDA website - on national calls for tenders of at least 1 million Euro. As of March 2007, the website also covers the calls for tenders of other continents. One year after its coming into force, the Code has showed a positive trend on the whole: from 1 April, 18 of the 24 member states have published more that 260 calls for tenders on the electronic newsletter, of which 60 (for an amount of 616 million Euro) have led to competition-born contracts: 16 cross-border contracts and 32 carried out by small and medium-sized companies.
On 25 April, the adhesion of Bulgaria brought the number of EU member states taking part in the Code to 25. On 14 April, the Council started to examine the text of the bill for the directive on simplifying inter-community transfer payments in the "internal market". The directive is part of the set of laws presented by the Commission in December 2007 aimed at increasing competitiveness in the defence industry sector, limiting the cases of applicability of art. 296 of the Treaty Establishing the European Community - which permits the exemption from the rules of the common market for reasons linked to national security - providing an alternative system able to take into consideration the specificity of the sector.
The European Parliament has charged a Green Party MP with analysis of the text, while France has requested the Council's Legal service for an opinion, raising some objections about the legal aspects of the text.