Observatory on European Defence, January 2009
January 1, 2009
EU - Czech Presidency: ESDP Programme, Euro
On January 1st the Czech Republic assumed the EU Presidency. The related programme is the one adopted for 18 months by the Council on June 2008 and covering the Presidencies of France, the Czech Republic and Sweden. During the General Affairs and External Relations Council of January 26th, the Presidency presented the mandate priorities, which include: economy, energy (including energy security in Europe) and external relations (institution of a partnership with the Eastern neighbouring countries, including Russia, and development of Transatlantic relations).
Transatlantic relations were also discussed by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, at an informal meeting in Prague on January 8th, where they identified three priority sectors which will be the topics of specific discussions with the new US administration: economy, energy and international politics (particularly the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iran).
The semi-annual Presidency programme includes several ESDP priorities, such as development of civil and military capabilities, particularly with regard to specific projects (such as those concerning helicopters and European strategic transport); continuation of the missions that have particular involvement in the Western Balkans, the post-Soviet area and the Middle East; fostering NATO cooperation at a strategic level for the joint crisis management in the same areas; continuation of the updating of the European Defence Agency, EDA, especially in the regulation of the defence market to promote the strengthening of small and medium enterprises; and support of a training scheme for young officers based on an Erasmus-type exchange program.
The 10-year anniversary of the creation of the euro was celebrated on January 1st (it came into force in 2002), and Slovakia became the 16th member state to adopt the euro, which now serves 328.6 million of a total 499.7 million EU citizens.
January 14, 2009
EU - European Defense Industry and Market
On January 14th the European Parliament approved the Directive on the public purchase of defence and security products, following which the member states will have 2 years to adjust their rules. The Directive is part of the "Defence Package" adopted by the Commission in December 2007 to boost competitiveness in the defence industrial sector. It provides an alternative regime that takes account of the industry's specificities for managing the cases of applicability of art. 296 of the EC Treaty, which allows for exemption from common market rules for interests that are essential to national security.
The initiative is complementary to the voluntary and not legally binding Conduct Code on EDA defence public contracts, in force since July 2006.
ESDP Missions - Middle East, Iraq, Kosovo, Congo, Somalia, Athena Mechanism
The Middle East. On January 8th the CSFP High Representative Solana declared that, if Israel and Hamas agree on a truce with sure and verifiable conditions, the EU will be ready to reactivate EUBAM Rafah, a monitoring mission at the Rafah crossing, on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, which was deployed in 2005 but suspended in June 2007 because of insufficient security conditions. The involvement of international forces and the establishment of border control mechanisms are an integral part of the peace plan proposed by President Sarkozy and President Mubarak on January 7th, a plan which foresees an immediate ceasefire to allow for the influx of humanitarian aid. Yet the plan has not been endorsed by the parties. The COPS meeting on January 27th also discussed the willingness to modify the EU EUPOL COPPS mission, as support for reform of Palestinian civil police forces, with a mandate which will include strengthening the rule of law.
On January 20th, an agreement was reached by the COPS on the extension of the EUJUST LEX mandate, an integrated mission on the rule of law in Iraq, which since its launch in 2005, has trained about 2000 judges, prison warders and police officers. The EU Presidency has also carefully followed the provincial elections held on January 31st in Iraq, appreciating the democratic conduct and the number of voters (60% versus about 50% in January 2005).
On January 17th the NATO KFOR mission and EU mission on the rule of law in Kosovo (EULEX KOSOVO) held the first joint exercise at the KFOR base in Novo Selo. The scenario, which involved several hundred soldiers and police officers, was violent demonstrations with the EU mission requesting support from KFOR. The coordination was absolutely satisfactory and in line with the subsidiarity principle that regulates management of such kinds of crisis, with the order of responsibility being: Kosovo police, EULEX KOSOVO and KFOR. On January 30th, COPS approved the contribution of Canada, the 63rd country to contribute to the mission, which now numbers about 1650 foreign personnel, in addition to 700 locals.
The humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo remains critical, with regional repercussions which also affect the stability of Sudan and Chad. On January 14th the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1861, which authorizes the deployment of a military component of the UN civil mission MINURCAT, instead of the EUFOR-TCHAD/RCA mission, an EU military operation in eastern Chad and the northeast of the Central African Republic, for one year starting from the expiry of the mandate of the latter (March 15, 2009). The new MINURCAT will include up to 300 police officers, 25 liason officers and 5200 soldiers (4900 in Chad and 300 in Democratic Republic of Congo). France, Ghana, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Russia and Togo expressed intentions to participate.
On January 30th COPS approved 3 documents which will be the frame of reference, particularly in relation to the exchange of information and experiences, for the participation of Saudi Arabia, China and Russia, to EU NAVFOR Somalia - operation Atlanta, the first EU military naval operation to counter piracy off the coasts of Somalia.
The end-of-year revision made by the Council on the management mechanism of the common costs of ESDP missions, Athena, produced changes aiming at extending the coverage of additional costs related to the headquarters structures (including additional infrastructures, civil staff, and transport and satellite image capture where these are not covered by other mechanisms like SATCEN); moreover, the mechanism will be reviewed at the most every 3 years (rather than every 18 months).
NATO - 2009 Priorities, Afghanistan, Kosovo
Several declarations confirmed the importance of the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan for the Atlantic Alliance.
On January 19th the NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer illustrated the priorities for 2009, among which are the new strategic concept, for tasks chosen on a shared basis, and the continuation of missions with particular commitment in Afghanistan. On January 20th USA President-elect Obama, in a letter to de Hoop Scheffer, expressed hope for a closer cooperation between the USA and NATO allies, an alliance unique for its kind in world history, and an irreplaceable fulcrum of the members' and non-members' shared security, with explicit reference to Afghanistan and to the Eastern and Southern European countries which should become part of a democratic Europe.
In the first press conference of 2009, NATO spokesman Appathurai presented the recent "Tactical Directive" as a key contribution to avoid civilian victims in ISAF operations. On January 14th a force generation conference was held at the NATO headquarters in Mons, and decided to dispatch a limited number of additional ISAF troops to maintain security during the presidential elections scheduled for August 20, 2009. The dispatch of the NATO Response Force (NRF) was not considered at this stage. On January 21st the Kosovo Security Force (KSF), a multiethnic police force which will be responsible for Kosovo's security from now on, was officially unveiled.
The force, trained by NATO and formed by 2500 men in addition to 500 reservists, will be first in line for tasks of crisis response, civil protection and the elimination of obsolete weaponries. The force replaces the Kosovo Protection Force, numbering 3500 men, many of whom former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters.
EU - Russia, Georgia, Ukraine
At the beginning of the month the controversy between Russia and Ukraine over the natural gas supplies provoked their substantial decrease in several EU member states (particularly Austria, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria). The Czech Presidency and the Commission protested, labeling the interruption "unacceptable" and demanding the immediate resumption of supplies.
On January 9th the Commission reached an agreement with Russia and Ukraine for the dispatch of European observers to verify the transport of Russian natural gas through the Ukrainian pipelines. On January 8th the EU Ministries of Foreign Affairs, meeting at an informal Council, reiterated the European position, urging Russia and Ukraine to achieve the conditions for a long-term solution, and committed themselves to creating a mechanism of rapid alert to allow the EU to react quickly in the case of temporary interruptions of energy supplies.
On January 12th the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council gathered in an extraordinary session which, recognizing the need to strengthen EU energy policy, recommended the development of mid- and long- term measures to guarantee more transparency of gas flows and the strengthening of bilateral and regional solidarity mechanisms. The Council asked the Commission to arrange recommendations in that sense.
On January 14th Barroso, President of the European Commission, observing the persistence of the gas transit block, threatened to urge European energy companies to summon Gazprom and Naftogaz- Russian and Ukrainian energy companies, respectively - and also affirmed that Ukraine and Russia risk to lose their status as reliable partners of energy supply.
On January 19th Gazprom and Naftogaz signed an agreement at the end of a difficult negotiation, followed closely by the EU, which caused the gas supplies to be resumed. In spite of the crisis' damage to the reliability of Russia and Ukraine as energy partners, the EU intends to continue the negotiations in existence with Ukraine for an association agreement and with Russia for a new partnership agreement. The crisis, however, pushed the EU to broaden its energy policy. During the General Affairs and External Relations Council of January 26th the Czech Presidency illustrated the following work priorities: strengthening of the internal energy market, building interconnections and infrastructure projects, creating response mechanisms for energy supply crises, and strengthening of foreign energy policy to reduce European vulnerability if a new supply interruption occurs.
EU - Gaza
The General Affairs and External Relations Council of January 26th welcomed with satisfaction the cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip. The Council reiterated its support of the Egypt mediation and confirmed its availability to contribute to the sustainability of the cease-fire, focusing on: humanitarian support to the population, prevention of arms smuggling, reopening of the passes on the basis of the Agreement of 2005, reconstruction of buildings and infrastructures destroyed by the war and reopening of the peace process.
Beginning January 4th, a delegation of the European Troika, led by the Czech Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg, carried out a mission in the Middle East, meeting the Egyptian President Mubarak, the Palestinian premier Fayad, the king of Jordan Abdullah II and several Israeli leaders. The EU also participated in the Sharm el-Sheikh summit of January 18th, organized by Mubarak and attended by, among others, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Palestinian President Abbas, his Turkish and French counterparts Gul and Sarkozy, and the German chancellor Merkel.
EU - Contrast to international terrorism
The EU Presidency, the European Commission and Parliament welcomed with satisfaction the intervention of USA President Obama to close Guantanamo. The member states are now assessing whether to cooperate with the USA in welcoming some of the prisoners who should be released after the closure of the detention camp, a decision which is not up to the European institutions. On January 26th, the General Affairs and Exterior Relations Council (GAERC) discussed the matter without reaching any agreement. Several countries, among them France, Portugal and Spain, offered a cautious availability underlining the necessity of a European coordination (every prisoner welcomed in Europe might indeed circulate freely in the Schengen area). Others (Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands) let it be known that they do not intend to take in former Guantanamo prisoners. If the member states are divided, the European institutions seem to be oriented toward cooperating with the USA. The different political groups in the European Parliament, the EU Commissioner for Justice and Security Jacques Barrot and the CSFP High Representative Solana invited the member states to cooperate with the USA. Moreover, the GAERC approved the updating of the European list of terrorist organizations, excluding the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). The decision follows a sentence of the European Court of First Instance on December 4th. France submitted an appeal against the decision.