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Observatory on European defence, March 2007


1-2 March 2007
EU Defence Ministers' informal meeting - Operations and capabilities

The EU Defence Ministers held an informal meeting in Wiesbaden.
They discussed the reconfiguration of the EU military mission (Eufor-Althea) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the progress made in the launching of an EU police and rule of law mission in Kosovo, and more in general EU-NATO cooperation in the region.
EU/UN military cooperation was been discussed on the basis of experience in Sudan and Congo. Finally, also the future EU police mission in Afghanistan was examined.
The European Defence Agency Director, Mr. Witney, presented the two stages of a capabilities development plan to be approved before the end of the year: the first, concerning analysis of the needs and the obstacles, is to be endorsed by the Defence Council next 14 May; the second concerns the commitments required at national level to implement the plan.

5 March 2007 
EU General Affairs and External Relations - Sudan, Balkans

The Ministers committed themselves to financing the support fund to the African Union (UA) Armis II mission operating in Darfur (Sudan) in order to ensure the transition of the mandate to the UN, already present in the region with the UNMIS mission. To this end, the Ministers urged the Sudan government again to accept the deployment of UA/UN forces.
As far as the Balkans are concerned, Ministers took note of the Oplan for the reduction of troops in the EU military mission (Eufor-Althea) operating in Bosnia-Herzegovina: before June, troops will decrease from 6100 to 2500. Between 21st and 28th March, the British withdrew about 600 troops from their own contingent: the biggest participants now are Italy (900), Germany (820), France (530), Spain (495), Turkey (345) and The Netherlands (300).

8-9 March 2007
European Council - Somalia

The European Council in spring was dominated by issues related to energy policy and climate change, as well as to the revision of the Lisbon strategy.
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs discussed the situation in Somalia. The possible EU backing to the UA Amisom mission- an international stabilisation force authorized by resolution 1725 (2006) - would involve financial, technical (in terms of planning), logistic and training support. The first contingent composed of 400 Ugandan troops, trained by the United Kingdom, arrived in Mogadishu on 6 March as the first component of an 8000-strong force.

29 March 2007
European  Defence Agency - Code of Conduct on defence procurement

The European Defence Agency (EDA) has enlarged the application range of the Code of Conduct on defence procurement now in force since 1st July 2006. The Code, voluntary and not legally binding, is meant to introduce some measure of competition into the European military procurement market. It covers those contracts which, given their strategic value, are exempt from common market rules through the exception provided by art. 296 TEC. It provides systematic information among partners - through the EDA portal - on national invitations to tender worth at least 1 million euros.
In the first 9 months of the Code's application, about 140 competitions - for a global value of more than 6.5 billion euros - were published on the electronic bulletin. Subject to these efforts in transparency are now going to be added those competitions related to sub-contracting. The launch of this new phase took place alongside the meeting of the Agency's Board of Directors composed of the National Armaments Directors . Other issues discussed in the meeting related to the European defence technological and industrial base (EDTIB). The Agency was tasked with writing a new voluntary Code (to enter into force in January 2008) - "Code of Conduct for Coordination of investments in the Defence Testing and Evaluation Base" - regarding investment projects in the field of defence worth at least 1 million euro, with the aim of reducing duplications and fostering common investments. To this end, the Agency took into consideration the "Concise Guide to Cooperative Programmes", on the production of which this institute collaborated.

March 2007
EU - CFSP, Civil Protection, Galileo

On 29th March, the CFSP High Representative Javier Solana outlined before the European Parliament the priorities of the Common Foreign and security Policy for 2007. The speech, which considered all the EU activities in the international field (10 missions at the moment, plus those in Afghanistan and Kosovo), identified the following urgent issues : the Arab-Palestinian conflict, the Iranian nuclear problem, the Kosovo status and the Darfur Crisis (Sudan). As far as capabilities are concerned, the upgrade has to involve greater availability and the optimization of civil-military cooperation. Finally, the issue of the anti-missile defence shield was discussed, in particular relative to the participation of some European countries in the American defence system. On this point, Solana stressed that the EU is not a military alliance, and that the decision therefore is up to the member states. Nevertheless, a discussion on the issue is needed in the framework and in the spirit of the EU, working towards a compatibility between national and European interests and considering the Russian point of view.
The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council held on 5th March approved a tool to finance common actions in the Civil Protection field. For the 2007-2013 period, a total of 189.8 million euro were allocated. To this budget must be added the European Commission's funds amounting to 5.6 million euro for six projects regarding the elaboration and testing of new equipment for the management of transborder natural catastrophes.
On 22 March, the transport, communications and energy Council took stock of the progress made in the European satellite navigation system, Galileo. The Ministers share the concerns expressed by the European Commission about the blocking of the contract and delivered an ultimatum to the consortium [Thales and Alcatel-Lucent (France), Immersat (United Kingdom), HispaSat e Aena (Spain), Finmeccanica (Italy) and Teleop (Germany)] in order to establish, before 10 May, the conditions for a positive outcome of the negotiations with the supervising authority (Galileo Supervisory Authority, GSA)