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Observatory on European defence, March 2000


1 March 2000
Establishment of Interim Committees ESDP: PSC

The Political and Security Committee (PSC-COPS), the Military Committee and the Military Staff have become operative within the EU Council, with the first meeting of the PSC; the other Committees will have their first meeting within the next few days.
As in all EU Committees, the Presidency of the PSC is held by the Country that chairs the EU on a six-month basis (Portugal).

The constitutive meeting of the PSC is the first follow up to the decision taken by the General Affairs Council of the 14th of February; an operative meeting will follow on the 3rd of March.
In order to guarantee a sense of continuity to the structure, it would have been better to give the Presidency of the PSC (the body responsible for the political and military address of the ESDP) to the High Representative Solana, instead of the rotating EU Presidency. Mr. Solana would like the next Intergovernmental Conference in Paris to modify the Treaty of the Union to make this possible.

21 March 2000

The General Affairs Council with the participation of the Ministers of Defence, discussed and approved some documents and conclusions drawn up during the ministerial meeting of 28th February.
The Council adopted a preliminary report for the next meeting in Lisbon, a timetable for the development of the headline goals, in view of the Conference that will be held at the end of the year, and a paper concerning procedures for military structures.

By taking decisions in accordance with preliminary works, the Council accepted the informal agreement taken at the end of February (see previous news for further details).
Deadlines have been respected so far and all interim structures are operating and the decision-making procedure of the EU Council, which adopts the advice of the informal meetings of national government representatives, seems to be effective.
The documents approved will be the basis for future discussion within the Council and among the Ministers of Defence; furthermore, they will provide guidelines for the work of the interim structures, pointing out targets and operational procedures.

21 March 2000
Meeting WEU ASSEMBLY: Parliamentary Dimension of ESDP
The WEU Assembly meeting in Lisbon analysed proposals on how to involve parliaments in the development of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
The Parliament recommended the governments of WEU countries to approve its transformation into a "European Security and Defence Assembly", open to the 15 EU countries, the NATO members not participating in the EU and the candidates for EU enlargement.
The Assembly also requested that a protocol be added to the modified EU Treaty, guaranteeing the legal basis of the future Assembly.

The initiative taken by WEU Members of Parliament indicates the direction that the future development of the ESDP’s parliamentary dimension is likely to take, in view of the absorption of the WEU in the EU.
Envisaged is an enlargement and transformation of the Assembly, guaranteeing the participation of a larger group of countries interested in the European initiative on security, in particular of the non-EU NATO members (Iceland, Norway, Turkey, the US, Canada, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary), but also of the future EU members.
The new parliamentary body should have a control function similar to the current one and should open a dialogue with the (now interim) structures of CFSP (in particular the Political Security Committee). In that case, the European Parliament (EP) would not take on further competencies: its role could be limited to co-operation with the future Assembly and to the initiatives that require expenditure commitments that fall under its authority.

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