Observatory on European defence, March 2005
2 March 2005
European Defence Agency - Defence Market
The Steering Committee of the European Defence Agency (EDA) held a meeting on 2 March. A decision was adopted on EDA’s contribution to the consultation process launched by the European Commission through the publication, in September 2004, of the ‘Green Paper’ on the defence market, aimed at favouring greater European integration. The Commission proposed two prospects for reform: a more restrictive interpretation of Article 296 of the TEC (which allows for exemption from the common market regulations for national security reasons) and/or the adoption of a Directive to open up defence market procurement, in accordance with specific rules which should take account of the specificities of the sector.
The Agency, while in favour of the initiative, encourages an intergovernmental approach which sounds out the feasibility of a voluntary regime for procurement currently covered by Article 296 TEC and which sketches out the path to be taken by a possible Directive of the Commission.
Moreover the Committee adopted a working plan related to the “European Defence Equipment Market” (EDEM).
16 March 2005
General Affairs and External Relations Council - Middle East, Iran, Sudan
The Council discussed the situation in the Middle East and, in particular, Lebanon and Iran. The withdrawal of Syrian security forces was required in view of the political elections scheduled for May to which the EU might send an observation mission.
Syria has signed an association agreement with the EU, but the date for formal signature has not been decided yet.
Moreover the Council analysed the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme. On 11 March, US Secretary of State Rice declared her support for the European diplomatic approach. The Europeans confirmed their determination to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power and their commitment to take recourse to the UN Security Council should Iran fail to collaborate with the IAEA.
On 23 March, the management committee dealing with the state of progress of the negotiations for the Paris agreement of 15 November 2004 between the EU-3 (France, Germany, United Kingdom and Solana) and Iran did not reach an agreement on the definitive suspension of activities related to uranium enrichment, thus calling for further discussions. Iran confirmed its request for binding guarantees from the EU including, among other things, support for its accession to the WTO, a commercial and technological cooperation agreement and supply of spare parts for its civil aviation, as well as Airbus aircraft.
The situation in Darfur, Sudan, was also discussed. On 18 March, at the informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers, Solana declared the EU’s willingness to provide, upon UN request, logistic and planning support to the African Union (AU) mission currently underway in the region.
On 24 March, the UN Security Council approved a UN mission in Sudan (UNMISUD, composed of 10,000 soldiers and 715 policemen, with a mandate for a period of 6 months) to support the implementation of the peace agreements signed in January 2005.
18 March 2005
Informal Meeting EU Defence Ministers - Capabilities, Missions
At the informal meeting of 18 March, EU Defence Ministers discussed the EU’s commitment to several military missions, the contribution of the ESDP to the fight against terrorism (see separate paragraph) and development of operational capabilities. Solana submitted proposals for more rapidity in the decision-making and planning process of the EU’s rapid reaction capabilities, to be examined by the COPS, in view of subsequent adoption.
The foreseen planning cell for EU civil and military operations will be able to start work in April 2005 with a limited initial staff (about 40 people) and operability.
Moreover, the Ministers analysed the different ESDP missions, currently underway and foreseen for the future. On 7 March, the Council adopted a Common Action on the EU EUJUST LEX integrated mission for training Iraqi judges and police officers outside Iraq, with an initial duration of one year and an allocation of about 10 million euros. On 8 March, the COPS appointed the UK police expert White as Chief of the Mission. The operation, now in its planning phase, should start by the 1 July 2005.
In the European area, the Althea Mission was reviewed. It is likely that there will be an increase in its police capabilities with respect to military ones, with a reduction in staff from 7,000 to 5,000.
Moreover, on 15 March the COPS declared the EU’s readiness to respond to the request for assistance made by the African Union (AU) and set up a peace-keeping mission in Somalia. The EU would provide support for the planning of the mission of which the AU would maintain the leadership on the ground.
Finally, Solana declared that the EU is planning to launch a small (about 10 soldiers operative by April) assistance mission for reform of the armed forces in Congo (DRC).
Previously, the Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs invited the EU to take an active role in border controls between Georgia and Russia.
Europe - China Arms Embargo
Although not the object of discussion at the 22/23 March European Council, the possible lifting of the European arms embargo on China occupied much of the European schedule.
On 17 March, the Luxembourg EU Presidency confirmed that it had received a mandate from the December 2004 European Council to pursue discussion in order to adopt a unanimous decision during the first semester of 2005. At the same time, discussions about the possibility of making the EU Code of Conduct on the arms export legally binding were under way.
The United Kingdom (together with other countries) was in favour of postponing the decision to 2006, also considering the opposition of the United States to the issue (US Congress threatened retaliation) and the adoption on 14 March by the Chinese Parliament of an anti-secession law that foresees recourse to armed force in case of a declaration of independence by Taiwan, over which the EU has expressed its concern.
On 31 March, China demanded explanations from the EU Presidency.
Europe - International Terrorism
At the commemoration of the terrorist attacks in Madrid on 11 March 2004, the EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator de Vries affirmed that, in spite of progress, the risk of terrorist attacks in Europe remains high. At present, the essential means for fighting terrorism, including intelligence and police, judicial and security services, remain under single member States’ control and coordination is still insufficient. On 8 March, the European Commission adopted a report on terrorism referring to the Communication issued last October, urging the commitment of member States for the protection of infrastructures, cooperation on countering the financing of terrorism and the creation within the Commission of a central crisis warning system.
Moreover, during the informal meeting of 18 March, EU Defence Ministers agreed that ESDP plays a role that is not crucial, but of support to the fight against terrorism; Solana was charged with verifying the means already available to the EU and studying the use of military means in case of necessity.
DetailsRoma, Istituto affari internazionali, 2005