Observatory on European defence, May 2008
26-27 May 2008
General Affairs and External Relations Council, EU Ministers of Defence, ESDP Misisons
The EU Ministers reviewed ESDP missions and took some decisions.
The Council reaffirmed that the 2007 EUFOR - ALTHEA military deployment in Bosnia-Herzegovina (about 2500 soldiers, with the support of an additional reserve force) will be operational for all the time needed to complete the stabilization process.
Ministers decided to double the number of experts and police officers initially foreseen for the EUPOL Afghanistan mission (about 200, with full operational capacity by June 2008, one year after the launch of the mission).
The Council took note of the delay in the EULEX Kosovo operation (initially foreseen for mid-June 2008) due to technical and political factors.
As for the EUFOR Chad/RCA military operation, full operational capacity was reached at the end of June 2008: the deployment will continue according to plans and an improved strategic transport capacity should be provided in the future as a result of ongoing talks with Russia and Ukraine.
Ministers decided to extend the EUPOL COPPS mission, aimed at backing the Palestinian police in the penal justice sector, in particular in the judiciary and penitentiary fields. The EUBAM Rafah mission at the Egyptian-Palestinian border, is still suspended, but has potential operational capacity: Ministers reaffirmed the commitment to deploy the mission as soon as security levels are adequate and extended the mandate until the 24 November 2008.
Ministers took note of the departure of a working group involved in launching (June 2008) a consulting mission in the security sector (military, police, judiciary): EU SSR Guinea Bissau
26-28 May 2008
General Affairs and External Relations Council, EU Ministers of Defence - half yearly report on developments in ESDP and capacity; European Defence Agency
The Council approved the half-yearly report on developments in ESDP. Ministers welcomed the progress in capacities, both military and civilian, of which the importance in crisis management and in cooperation with the military is growing in future plans.
As for military capacities, there has not been sufficient progress in the following sectors: force protection, deployability and information superiority.
Battlegroups have been at the center of discussions aimed at reviewing the principles underlying the current financing and, above all, deployment. Battlegroups will be provided with air and naval support by the end of 2008, while their availability will be ensured by the states until the first semester of 2010. Member states will receive non-binding guidelines on the training of troops (which will be submitted to COPS in July 2008).
The European Defence Agency has been associated to the development of capacities, and the Council appreciated its achievements with respect to long-term strategies and projects. The Executive Board of the Agency, meeting at the ministerial level, reached a political consensus on improving the helicopter capacity for ESDP missions and approved the launch of a second program of common investment in research and development in the defence sector, focusing on innovation and new technologies. The relative financing (15.5 million euro) will be shared by 11 countries.
EU - Arms Control and European Defence Marekt
On 14 May, the Council's legal office rejected the objections disputing the legal basis of the proposed directive on simplification of inter-communitarian transfers related to defence products, raised by France during the Council's examination of the text on 14 April 2008. The directive is part of the "defence package" proposed by the Commission on December 2007 aimed at improving the competitiveness of the defence industrial sector by limiting the applicability of paragraph 296 of EC Treaty (which allows for exemptions from common market rules for relevant national security purposes) and providing an alternative system that takes the specific nature of this sector into consideration.
On 2 May, Norway adopted the Code of Conduct of the European Defence Agency on public contracts which - in a voluntary and non-compulsory way - contributes to economic competition on the European market of military procurement. In force as of July 2006, it covers the parts of contracts that - for their strategic value - can be exempted pursuant to paragraph 296 and provides systematic information, through the Agency's website, on national calls for tenders for amounts of over 1 million euro.
Related to the application of paragraph 296 is the sentence handed down by the EU Court of Justice on 20 May, which gives the European Commission exclusive competence in drawing up common measures for contrasting the trafficking of small arms.
The Ecofin Council of 29 and 30 May underlined the need for competitiveness in the defence market, which is attentive to the sector's specificity and boosts cooperation between member states.
On 14 and 15 May, in the presence of more that 300 representatives of governments and industries, the European Organisation for Security (EOS) was officially launched. Created in July 2007 and made up of 26 of the main industrial groups involved in the security market, the EOS aims to promote better integration of the market through concrete measures to reduce fragmentation.
NATO - Afghanistan, Capacity
Afghanistan turned out to be the focus of NATO efforts during the meeting of the Military Staff on 14 May. The other issues on the agenda were evaluation of the global situation of the ISAF mission - for the first time, all contributors, including non-European ones, were present: 40 countries, about 50,000 soldiers, while the deployment of 7,000 US marines in 2009 still has to be confirmed).
Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer, appointed Italian ambassador Fernando Gentilini as NATO senior civilian representative in Afghanistan; on the same day, a memorandum of cooperation to strengthen the security and efficiency of the two main arms depot in Afghanistan was signed. The project will last 2 years, will benefit from 6 million euro and will be guided by Belgium, Canada and Luxembourg.
As for capacities, on 14 May, on the margins of the NATO Military Staff meeting, a memorandum of understanding creating a "Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence" in Estonia was signed. Its aim is to diffuse studies and training related to cyber warfare. The signatory states - now Germany, Spain, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia - have seconded 30 persons for the staff.
The 10 year anniversary of the NATO Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EACRCC), was celebrated on 28 May. Since its creation, it has completed 40 operations in natural and man-provoked disasters, representing a positive example of cooperation between NATO and non-NATO countries and the advantageous use of civilian capacities in some countries less engaged in military operations.