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Observatory on European defence, March 2002


5 March 2002
UN Security Council – EU Police Mission in Bosnia

The Security Council of the United Nations approved the EU international police mission in Bosnia. The mission had been proposed by the EU General Affairs Council on 18 February 2002. 
The European force will take over from UN IPTF mission in 2003.

15-16 March 2002
European Council – ESDP Mission in Macedonia

The European Council held in Barcelona confirmed the EU offer to deploy its rapid reaction force in Macedonia, taking over from the present NATO mission; a permanent agreement between the two organisations is considered a precondition for the European intervention.

22-23 March 2002
Meeting of EU Defence Ministers

EU Defence Ministers held an informal meeting in Saragoza. They discussed different ESDP issues, such as:

  • combating international terrorism: ESDP should broaden its scope to deal with this serious and ever present danger. This would require stronger cooperation between intelligence services and coordination of national initiatives against weapons of mass destruction.
  • armament policy: the Spanish Presidency presented a paper on the issue and would like to develop a common policy, building a European Armament Agency, harmonising national requirements, coordinating R&D efforts and pooling capabilities (the National Armaments Directors will meet on 29 April in Madrid to discuss these issues) .
  • defence budgets: ministers recognised the central role of defence expenditure for ESDP development; a new way has to be found to increase defence spending output and assign additional resources.
  • capabilities: the European Capabilities Action Plan (ECAP) was discussed, in view of the reports that will be presented on 4 June to the PSC.
  • mission in Macedonia: the EU will be able to take over from the present NATO mission when an agreement is reached with the Atlantic Alliance; thus, the European force will only be able to deployed at the end of the summer, instead of at the end of June.
  • relations with NATO: a permanent agreement should be reached before the end of the Spanish Presidency, before the Greek and Danish semesters, when it could become more difficult.

The Defence Ministers held a preliminary discussion prior to the formal meeting that will be held on 14 May in Brussels.
Some questions had already been raised in February, such as the deployment of troops in Macedonia, the permanent agreement with NATO, the development of military capabilities and the fight against terrorism); two relatively new, strictly connected items were discussed: military budgets and European defence industrial policies.
On defence budgets, Defence Ministers underlined the difficulties encountered in having additional financial resources assigned to match ESDP needs. 
Italy proposed to study the possibility of allowing additional defence spending on procurement without infringing the rules of the Stability Pact. An ad hoc group will discuss this problem.
The Presidency paper on armaments policy seems a good starting point for the development of a new proposal, that should take into account ESDP needs and facilitate the process of integration of the European defence industry.

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