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Observatory on European defence, January 2003


January 2003 
EU Greek Presidency - Italian-Greek Program

The Greek Presidency of the Union began on 1 January; but Greece has already been in charge of the ESDP Presidency since July 2002 because of the Danish “opt-out”. The Greek and Italian governments (the Italian will take over the Presidency in the second semester 2003) presented a common program. The Presidencies would like to improve CFSP and ESDP, increasing the Union’s international presence to spread stability globally and in particular in the area of immediate geographical vicinity and interest; moreover, they would like to develop the common defence policy, improving military capabilities and creating a European armaments policy. In particular:

  • the Helsinki Headline Goal development schedule is to be respected
  • a capability conference will be held in May
  • the main operational shortfalls will be addressed (in particular, the areas of transport and communications)
  • common defence market regulations are to be worked out
  • a European Armaments Agency will be promoted
  • a number of initiatives concerning R&D and defence industry development, space activities will be undertaken.
  • a common ESDP fund is to be set up.

January 2003
EU-NATO - Berlin + Implementing Arrangements

Regular contacts between NATO and the EU at different levels continued during the month, aimed at the operationalisation of the political agreement reached in December. These arrangements should be concluded by the end of February, allowing for EU engagement in Macedonia as of the beginning of March. At present, the Deputy SACEUR (the European NATO Deputy Commander) represents the operational link between the two institutions.

January 2003
Europe - Iraq

In January, the attention of the European public opinion and national governments and diplomacies was focused on the Iraqi crisis. The step up of American military pressure on Iraq, following the UN Inspectors’ first report on 27 January stating the absence of a full Iraqi compliance to UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1441, triggered different initiatives in European countries. On 15 January, the US put forward a number of preliminary requests for support in the NATO framework, including defence measures on Turkish territory. The proposal was not discussed by the weekly meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) on 29 January. On 16 January, the Head of the UN Inspection Team met with some European leaders, in particular the EU High Representative for CFSP. On 22 January, France and Germany adopted a bilateral common position; the two countries believe Iraq is not in material breach of UN Resolutions, therefore they propose to continue the inspections and oppose a possible US military action not backed by an explicit UNSC authorisation. A European Common Position, sought by the Greek Presidency, was only reached at the end of the month. On 27 January, the General Affairs Council of the European Union, following a meeting between the Troika (High Representative, Greek Presidency and next Italian Presidency) and the EU members sitting on the UN Security Council (France and United Kingdom as permanent members, as well as Germany and Spain as rotating members), reached a Common Position declaring support for the Inspectors and the central role of the SC in managing the crisis. The document released does not mention any specific policy (such as the need for a further Resolution allowing for the use of force) or make a statement on Iraqi compliance with UN Resolutions. On 30 January, the European Parliament adopted (287 vs 209) a resolution opposing unilateral American military action and supporting the continuation of the UN Inspection regime. The same day, the Heads of State of eight European countries (five current EU members - UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Denmark - and three future members - Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic) signed and made public a letter supporting the American policy; the action was taken without consulting the other members or any European institution. The Greek Presidency, excluded from this national action, opposed the operation and announced that it will try to reach a common position in a special meeting in February. The Iraqi crisis has been the subject of numerous transatlantic discussions between European and US representatives and scholars, often characterised by strong opposition and verbal violence.

The differences in the positions of the European countries towards a possible US military intervention in Iraq produce a situation of constant flux and represent a major risk for the stability of the international multilateral system. In particular, the divisions between European states have a negative impact on the credibility and the stability of the European Union, the Atlantic Alliance and the United Nations. Moreover, this fragmentation implies a substantial lack of European influence in the international arena. The situation is particularly serious because of the lack of time and diplomatic options for reducing the distance between national positions. The medium-term consequences for European foreign, security and defence policies seems particularly negative; the EU members tend to divide and promote national policies, whose effectiveness in the global context is normally very poor.

1 January 2003 
ESDP - Police Mission in Bosnia (EUMP) Begins

The European Union Police Mission (EUMP) in Bosnia Herzegovina became operational on 1 January. The mission involves 512 policemen (422 coming form EU countries, the rest from 18 partners) and takes over from a similar UN-lead operation (the UN International Police Task Force).

21 January 2003 
European Commission - ESA - Green Paper on Space

The European Commission, in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), published a “Green Paper” on European space activities; the document should trigger a debate on the future of this important sector and lead to the definition of a “White Paper” on a development strategy in keeping with the Union’s aspirations. The document underlines the importance of space assets for the EU’s foreign, security and defence policies (CFSP and ESDP). In the meantime, the problem of ESA financing of the Galileo global positioning system remains unresolved. The Commission has decided to continue development of the program, notwithstanding the continued lack of agreement between the member states (in particular Germany and Italy).

27 January 2003 
EU General Affairs Council - ESDP Mission in Macedonia (FYROM)

A Common Action establishing the framework of the incoming EU military stabilisation mission in Macedonia was adopted by the General Affairs Council. This decision follows up on the directives given by the Copenhagen Summit in December 2002 and was formally requested by the Macedonian government on 17 January. The mission will be under the authority of the PSC (the Political and Security Committee), while higher political guidance will be held by the Council and the EU High Representative. The Council deliberated and proposed to NATO that the Deputy SACEUR shell (the European NATO Deputy Commander) be appointed as Commander in Chief of the Mission using the SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) command structure shell (under EU political authority). A Contributors’ Committee open to non-member states will probably be established. The common costs of the mission has been established at 4.7 million Euro. The Atlantic Alliance will examine EU requests in the framework of the recent “Berlin +” agreement. The mission in Macedonia was discussed during a special session of a defence policymakers meeting on 28 January. The European Union is considering a takeover (possibly in 2004) of NATO military missions in Bosnia (SFOR) and Kosovo (KFOR).